A Guide to Glamping in North Carolina

Take camping up a notch this summer


Published:

Modern yurts are elevated and feature modern amenities.

Photo courtesy of Asheville Glamping

Glamorous camping, or glamping, blends camping with modern amenities to create what some might consider a more enjoyable and comfortable vacation in nature.

According to Kampground of America’s 2019 North American Camping Report, more than 7.2 million U.S. households started camping over the past five years, bringing the total number of camping households in the U.S. to a high of more than 78.8 million. A vacation in nature, however, is a lot easier when you have a bathroom, kitchen and comfy beds. 

 

Choose Your Accommodations

Photo Courtesy of Asheville Glamping

Dome 3 includes a fun slide so loft guests can access the lower level. 

Tent camping requires a lot of planning, packing, setting up and taking down — not to mention sleeping on the ground. Glamping blends a touch of comfort with the relaxation of being in the great outdoors — without as much setup. Types of glamping accommodations include geodomes, glamping tents, treehouses,  travel trailers and yurts (a circular tent with a framework). Modeled after Mongolian nomads’ traditional yurts, today’s yurts are elevated and feature modern amenities. 

“We think of it as easy camping,” says Tim Murphy, owner of Emberglow Outdoor Resort, a 72-acre year-round glamping retreat in Mill Spring, North Carolina, that is on track to open in September. “Accommodations are comfortable for sleeping, but are designed to get people outside.”

Inspired by Johann David Wyss’ “Swiss Famiy Robinson” story, Emberglow Outdoor Resort’s big treehouse sleeps 8-10 and features a living room, lookouts and a cargo net on the backside. For smaller groups, vintage trailers, geodomes, yurts and tent camping options are available. Each of Emberglow Outdoor Resort’s accommodations have running water, air conditioning, a microwave, a coffee maker, a small refrigerator and an outdoor grill. 

All rentals, except for tree lofts, include private bathrooms, and Murphy says there is a family bathhouse big enough for the whole tribe to get cleaned up in, without having to worry about boys being in the girls’ room, and vice versa. Learn more at emberglowoutdoorresort.com. 

Wildwater Falling Waters Nantahala, located next to the Nantahala Gorge in Bryson City, is a 22-acre resort consisting of two ponds, a waterfall and eight yurts — each with a queen-size bed and futon that sleeps two to four people. French doors, three large windows and a wooden deck make it feel like a home. Each yurt was built with a weatherproof canvas and includes a space heater and ceiling fan (since there is no air conditioning). All yurt guests share lockable bathrooms. What isn’t provided? TV and Wi-Fi. This limits distractions and provides more opportunities for guests to enjoy nature. Learn more at fallingwatersresort.com.

Asheville Glamping, located 10 miles outside of downtown Asheville near the French Broad River, rents yurts, vintage trailers, geodomes and treehouses for $125-$350 per night that stay booked a year in advance. The site’s 1,300-square-foot Dome 3 sleeps eight and includes a loft bed with a fun slide for guests to access the lower level. Each dome includes electricity, air conditioning and a fire pit. Some come with Wi-Fi. Dome guests can also stargaze while inside. Learn more at glampinginnc.com.

On the site of a former Girl Scout camp, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Golden Valley resort in Bostic, North Carolina, offers two glamping options: luxury tents and treetop cabins. Just steps away from a scenic lake, glamping tents sleep five and include air conditioning, heating, a microwave, a mini refrigerator and a coffee pot. Perched up in the trees, treetop cabins sleep four and feature air conditioning, heating, TV and an outdoor kitchenette with a lake or mountain view. Both lodging choices include access to a nearby private, detached, full bathroom with linens provided. Learn more at campgoldenvalley.com.

 

Set Reasonable Expectations

“Glamping is great for folks of all ages,” says Trey Barnett of Falling Waters Resort, adding that it’s “more about a desire for something more adventurous than staying in a hotel. Glamping is a great intro to camping for families.”

Guests shouldn’t expect a five-star resort, however. Joanna Cahill, who co-owns Asheville Glamping with her fiancé Patrick Lovell, says glamping is an outdoor experience, and folks who aren’t interested in spending time outdoors aren’t going to have as good of a time. The company’s FAQs, which is required reading for all guests, state: “Though our spaces are clean, we guarantee that you are going to see bugs at some point during your stay.”

“We have learned to make sure to give people extremely accurate expectations,” Cahill says. “We like to have folks arrive with lower expectations, and exceed them.”

 

Get Packing

“Families need to prepare much like they would for a camping trip,” Barnett says. “Pack clothes with the mindset of being outside.”

When it comes to food, Barnett recommends preparing as much beforehand as possible. Bring the necessary tools for grilling, and keep plenty of snacks and drinks on hand. “Campfire dinners (hamburger and veggies wrapped in foil) are popular, or plan to grill meats and veggies,” he says. “Some families even choose to bring a camping cook-set to make cooking easier.” 

At Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Golden Valley resort, glamping tents and cabins are equipped with charcoal grills, but there is also food on-site at Creekside Cafe, Snack Shack and The Lodge to give family cooks a break. At the Camp Store, guests can stock up on groceries, ice, wood, propane, beer and wine. 

Photo courtesy of Asheville Glamping

Asheville Glamping’s Silver Bettie vintage trailer offers heating and air conditioning, a kitchen, two double beds and a hot tub just outside. 

Go on an Adventure

Glamping resorts offer access to outdoor activities — from zip lining to water sliding. Some may be included in the price, or offered at a discounted rate to resort guests. Wildwater Falling Waters Nantahala is owned by Wildwater, considered the oldest outfitter in the Southeast. Just a few hundred feet away from the resort, families can participate in rafting, zip lining (including a Kidzip Canopy Tour) and Nantahala Jeep Tours on the resort’s property. 

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Depot in Bryson City is about 11 miles away from Wildwater Falling Waters Nantahala. Board a one-way train ride into the Nantahala Gorge, then hop on a Jeep for a scenic backroads tour. After that, take the train back to Bryson City and enjoy a boxed lunch during the return trip.  

Emberglow Outdoor Resort gives kids autonomy to roam and explore, says Murphy, who is a father of three under age 5, with a baby on the way. The resort’s pool features a sitting shelf, and the playground includes an “unscripted” play area that allows children to use natural materials — and their imaginations — to build forts and other creations.



Photos courtesy of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Golden Valley

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Golden Valley’s treetop cabins sleep four and feature an outdoor kitchenette, TV, heating and air conditioning, and lake or mountain view. 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Golden Valley resort includes pools, water-slides and splashgrounds. The Ranger Smith Pool features a swim-up pool bar, basketball courts, horseshoes, mini golf, a playground and volleyball courts. Hit the lake in a canoe, kayak, paddleboat or stand up paddleboard. There’s even an outdoor laser tag course.

“Families can expect a welcoming environment filled with fun activities, tons of brand-new amenities, great food and the opportunity to reconnect with nature while making long-lasting memories,” says Nicole Powell, reservations manager at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort.

Plan a glamping escape to North Carolina’s wilderness and discover how glamorous getting back to nature can be.

Sara Kendall is a Charlotte-based freelance writer who loves to explore new places with her family.

 

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December 2019

Come by the Finley Center any time during the day to participate in a collaborative community art project celebrating what you are thankful for! Play a game of “Roll a Turkey” and take home...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Did you know bucks or male deer can grow a new set of antlers each year? Explore pelts, skulls, tracks, and scat of white-tailed deer through hands-on discovery stations. Then learn about the...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2854
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Please join Admissions, Division Directors and our Head of School as they talk about Duke School’s unique program, specifically for incoming kindergarten through fourth grade students for the...

Cost: $0

Where:
Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Duke School
Telephone: 919-416-9420
Contact Name: Logan Blaylock

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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127198.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Have you ever wondered what happens to our wildlife during the winter? They have a variety of adaptations to help them get through the cold months. Come explore some of their techniques then take a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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There are a lot of dangers in the woods for deer and rabbits! Read a story about these mammals and practice hiding from predators during a fun game, then make a deer-themed craft. For ages 3-5...

Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Design and create a keepsake apron with vibrant markers and other fun decorations. After completing your apron, enjoy baking and decorating your own individual cake. Ages 6-10. 

Cost: $35/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Come talk about books and eat pizza. No assigned reading prior to the meeting. Call or stop by to register: 919-245-2532.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Parents of children learn age-appropriate social skills for children ages 3-6. Register online by Nov. 28.

Cost: $22/person or $33/couple

Where:
Project Enlightenment
501 S. Boylan Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Please visit the Homeschoolers of Holly Springs 4th Annual Holiday Market Day. Student entrepreneurs will be showcasing their products while learning about running their own businesses. All...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Hope Community Church
2080 E Williams St
Apex, NC  27539
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As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
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Want a fun arty Friday night activity for your teen? We've got the Teen Art Takeover just for them. Once a month we open up the community clay studio just for the 11-17 set. We have art...

Cost: $5 Resident/$6 nonresident

Where:
Chapel Hill Community Clay Studio
200 Plant Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Community Clay Studio and Chapel Hill Teen Center
Telephone: 919-968-2878
Contact Name: Robena Meek
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More information

Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

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Join the three ensembles of the Cary Youth Voices for choral music. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Greenwood Forest Baptist Church
110 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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On season 6 of American Idol, Melinda Doolittle stunned both the audience and the judges with her powerhouse vocals and her personal charm. She placed third in the voting, and has since gone on to...

Cost: $28 + taxes and fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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Meet at the Waterwise Garden (first parking lot on right) No preregistration required.Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends....

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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See award-winning houses from the Town of Cary's 9th Annual Gingerbread House Competition on display. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

More information

Ages 4-12 enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required. Children must have adult accompaniment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Take your American Girl to enjoy crafts, games, tea etiquette and more. Registration required online. Ages 5-10. Choose course #127007 for the 11 a.m. tea or #127008 for the 1 p.m. tea. 

Cost: $21/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Get ready for the holidays with festive activities, shopping, a holiday concert at 5 p.m. and much more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Make an angel out of polymer clay to hang on a tree. Register online. Choose course #127353.

Cost: $19/resident, $25/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Kick off your holiday season with horse-drawn carriage rides, hot apple cider, live music, handmade crafts, holiday activities, and a visit with Ol' Saint Nick.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Website »

More information

As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
Website »

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Ages 3-12 and their fathers enjoy a night of dancing, light refreshments, photos and more. Registration required at Rolesville Community Center.

Cost: $25.00 per couple, non-resident $30.00 per couple, $10.00 per additional child

Where:
Rolesville Community Center
514 Southtown Circle
Rolesville, NC  27571
View map »


Website »

More information

Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

More information

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