Yellowstone Under Canvas
West Yellowstone, Montana
When Sarah and Jacob Dusek returned to Jacob’s home state of Montana in 2009, the couple started an upscale, upland bird-hunting company, Sage Safaris. During the all-inclusive excursions, guests slept in large canvas, safari-style tents.
“They were very popular, and we were asked if we would ever put tents in other locations; people were calling all the time,” Sarah Dusek said.
That interest led the Duseks to open Yellowstone Under Canvas in 2012 on a section of Bar N Ranch just seven miles from the nearest entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The camp has about 60 tents, ranging from basic tepees with cots to multiroom canvas mansions complete with interior private showers, toilets and high-end furnishings.
“The wonderful thing about glamping [glamorous camping] is you get to experience the outdoors, you get to be in the nature with stunning views, stunning surroundings without any of the hassle of packing your own camping gear, without it being uncomfortable or buying a lot of equipment you don’t own,” Sarah Dusek said. “It’s the easy way to enjoy the outdoors.”
The luxury camp opens at the end of May and closes after Labor Day weekend. The beginning and end of the season tend to be slower, making them perfect times for groups to book several tents — or reserve the entire camp, she said. Yellowstone Under Canvas can sleep 150 people, although the camp and the ranch can host much larger events. The Bar N Ranch restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner every day, and groups can order box lunches to take with them on their daily adventures.
Yellowstone Under Canvas partners with a variety of providers in the area that offer horseback riding, white-water rafting, fly-fishing, zip lining, guided hikes and guided tours of the park, Dusek said.
People fly from all over the country and the world to visit Yellowstone National Park, and the camp offers families and groups a feasible way to fully experience Montana’s nature.
“It doesn’t compare to being in a motel; it’s a completely different experience than that, but then it’s also a completely different experience than lugging your own gear and setting up camp,” Dusek said. “It’s a good halfway point; you can be in the nature and experience the early morning air and the mist and sunrises and sunsets without it being difficult.”
Clear Creek Guest Ranch
Burnsville, North Carolina
Clear Creek Guest Ranch sits in a valley of the Smoky Mountains, about 45 miles northeast of Asheville, North Carolina, and is nearly surrounded by Pisgah National Forest.
The guest ranch is also a dude ranch that’s home to 45 horses, ranging from spritely 2-year-olds to calmer 20-somethings. Ranch guides match Clear Creek’s surefooted horses’ personalities to each guest’s riding ability and lead horseback rides on the ranch’s 11 named mountain trails, said ranch manager Rusty Oleszewski.
“That is our main draw,” he said of the Clear Creek’s horseback riding. “The majority of the time, it’s on mountain trails, and we do offer an extended ride when we travel down the road a ways and go into national forest.”
The ranch has four buildings that can sleep about 55 people “if we put a head on every pillow,” Oleszewski said, but they’re more like guest houses than individual cabins. One building has eight one-bedroom units, another houses four two-bedroom units, and the final one offers four one-bedroom units. A duplex also has two three-bedroom units, he said.
Guests can relax by fly-fishing or tubing on the South Toe River next to the ranch or go off-ranch for adrenaline-pumping zip lining and white-water rafting trips. Guests can also hike, mountain bike, swim in the pool and join the wranglers for cookouts, karaoke and line dancing.
Clear Creek also offers a craft tour that showcases the area’s artists and studios. The mountains surrounding Asheville are “home to many pottery-makers and glassblowers, artisans and craftspeople,” Oleszewski said.
“Once people find their way to this area, they fall in love with it,” he said. “Most of the artists we go to see, they have their own little workshop next to their house. We have several world-renowned artists that live in the woods, and we’re able to take our guests right to the studios.”
Spring and fall are good times for groups to book because the ranch can reserve the entire property for the group and “cater just to them,” Oleszewski said.