There’s a small window each fall when sleeping in the great outdoors still has appeal: the air is crisp but not cold, the sky is shockingly blue, and the trees are showing their colors. It’s the perfect time to try “glamping” (a.k.a. “glamorous camping”)—a trendy and luxurious type of camping.
Glampgrounds and glampsites haven’t necessarily tamed the wilderness, but they have made it more comfortable. Many are in stunning locations off scenic byways, in or near national forests, or on private land. Most have safari-style canvas tents with floors, heating, rustic but elegant furnishings, and deluxe amenities such as down-filled comforters and robes and slippers. There’s no assembly required (though there might be a two-night minimum).
So, go ahead. Put your binoculars, camera, and layered hiking togs in your backpack, leave your tent rolled up in the attic, and head for one of these glamping sites in some of the best leaf-peeping spots in the United States.
Normandy Farms, Foxboro, MA. At this award-winning property, yurts (a.k.a. year-round universal recreation tents) have wraparound porches for wraparound views of the wooded terrain. Inside you’ll find a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a fireplace, heating, and air-conditioning. Colors: frosty blue-green spruce trees alongside oaks and maples that turn brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds. Rate: $395 per weekend.
Camp Orenda, Johnsburg, NY. Upscale canvas cabins with Adirondack-style furnishings are nestled in four locations amid 40-acres on Johnson Mountain. You’ll dine al fresco on meals prepared in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over an open flame. Later, sip some wine while star-gazing or enjoying a s’more made with Ghirardelli chocolate. Colors: golden yellow beeches; deep red and umber oaks and maples; spruces, hemlocks, and mighty white pines in various shades of green. Rate: $145 per person per night.
The Martyn House, Ellijay, GA. Farm-to-table catered meals are served communal style in the main house of this property set on 18 acres in the north Georgia Mountains and the Chattahoochee National Forest. Accommodations are in luxurious, whimsical “gypsy sleeping tents,” inspired by those found in India. Relax with some yoga or a massage. Grab an apple; Ellijay is the apple capital of Georgia. Colors: The tents are as colorful as the red and yellow sugar maples. Rates: $180 per person per night during the week; $220 on weekends.
The Original Treehouse Cottages, Eureka Springs, AK. The hand-hewn luxury cottages here are built 22 to 26 feet off the ground, giving you treetop Ozark Mountain vistas. The kitchenettes are stocked with snacks—including pumpkin bread—to enjoy on wraparound decks. Colors: Dogwoods and sumacs wear red in the middle of the soaring green pines. Rates: $149 (queen) or $160 (king) per night.
Seth Peterson Cottage, Mirror Lake, WI. Although it’s not glamping per se, this unique property definitely puts you in touch with nature. You’ll stay in a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed cottage with glass walls so you can fully enjoy Mirror Lake State Park views from a wooded bluff. You’ll also enjoy the renovated kitchen and bath, the elegant furnishings, and the fireplace (firewood included). And you have use of a canoe—getting double the fall color with the reflection off the water. Colors: Oaks glisten red, gold, and yellow within an Eastern white pine forest. Rate: $300 per night.
Sinya on Lone Man Creek, Wimberley, TX. The large, climate-controlled, eco-friendly tent at this Texas Hill Country property has luxurious contemporary furnishings in whites and creams. Dreamy amenities include spa robes, goose-down pillows, a deep claw-foot tub, and gourmet coffee. Colors: Red and gold maples along with elms, junipers, oaks, and willows line a creekside ridge. Rates: $245 per night during the week; $275 on weekends; two-night minimum.
Canvas Cabin Retreat, Enterprise, OR. After a day in the great outdoors, watch the moon rise over the peaks of the Wallowa Mountains from the comfort of an elevated deck, attached to a sleekly furnished safari-style canvas tent. Such vistas are among the reasons the area is called “Little Switzerland.” Colors: Big leaf and vine maples, ashes, larches, and dogwoods glisten gold and red through swaths of redwoods. Rate: $75 per person per night.
Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, San Juan Island, WA. Canvas cabins near Friday Harbor provide shelter with comfort. They come in a variety of sizes to accommodate couples or groups—there’s even a bunkhouse-style tent. The Toasty Toes turndown service features a fleece-covered hot water bottle. Colors: Riverbank trees like cottonwoods, alders, and ashes provide peeks of fall color among stands of Douglas fir. Rate: $199 per person per night.
El Capitan, Santa Barbara, CA. After a comfortable night in your furnished safari tent, you’ll wake up to the sounds of El Capitan Canyon and the scent of wild sage. Nearby are onsite facilities such as hot showers and a heated swimming pool. Colors: Central coast vineyards create a mottled blend of red, green and yellow on the hillside during harvest season. Along inland waterways oaks and sycamores share the sun with red and purple elderberries and holly berries. Rates: $145–$155 per night.
Safari West, Santa Rosa, CA. Each of the 30 well appointed luxury tents at this property adjacent to a 400-acre exotic wildlife preserve has a private bath and a comfy bed with a heated blanket. You’ll awaken to the love songs of the Sarus cranes. Colors: Among the magenta, crimson, and golden leaf maples, oaks, and buckeyes, you might see a giraffe or two. The Serengeti-like grasslands turn a golden color. Rates: $225–$290 per night.