- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

PHILIPSBURG, Mont. (AP) - It could be argued that sleeping in a king-size bed with a fully plumbed bathroom inside your tent isn’t actually camping.

However, for many guests at the Ranch at Rock Creek, that is their first taste of camping.

“They don’t have closets but they do have armoires,” said Rich Miller, director of facilities at the ranch outside Philipsburg.

The ranch offers several options for glamorous camping, also known as glamping. All of the tents have in-tent bathrooms, some even have kitchens and in-floor heat.

“It’s not like any tent you’ve ever stayed in before,” Miller said.

Even the most basic tents at the Ranch at Rock Creek are luxurious. They are canvas wall tents book-ended by a hard-frame front porch and a hard-frame bathroom at the back of the tent.

They have hardwood floors and are fully furnished with a bed and bed frame, couches and chairs. A propane stove keeps guests warm and a ceiling fan keeps them cool. The bathrooms feature flush-toilets, sinks and a shower.

Camping is one of many first-time experiences visitors will get to enjoy during their stay at the luxury guest ranch.

“A lot of people who come here want to try something new,” said Heather Rue, marketing manager at the Ranch at Rock Creek.

That could mean riding a horse for the first time, seeing their first rodeo or casting a fly rod for the first time. The Ranch at Rock Creek offers all of those experiences, and offers them in a way that puts guests at ease while they step out of their comfort zone.

The same is true with camping.

As much as the luxury wall tents differ from traditional camping, they also share some similarities.

“You feel like you’re out in the elements to a certain degree,” Miller said.

If it’s raining, you’ll hear the rain on your tent; if it’s windy, you’ll know it; and at night you can fall asleep to the sound of the creek just outside your tent.

“It’s certainly very hard not to be in tune with nature if you spend three or four days here,” Miller said.

The Ranch at Rock Creek has been a guest ranch since 2010 and opened its luxury tents that spring. They’ve proven to be popular among guests.

“They’re full all summer long,” Miller said.

Glamping tents at the Ranch at Rock Creek start at $850 a night at top out at $5,400 per night for a tent that sleeps four. That price also includes all meals and activities.

The even more extravagant tents feature claw-foot bathtubs, full kitchens and cedar soaking tubs on the deck.

African safari in Montana

Sarah Dusek spent many years living in Africa. During that time, she went on numerous safaris where she slept in luxury wall tents.

Dusek, who is British, married a native Montanan and moved to his ranch north of Havre in 2009.

“When we moved back here, I just fell in love with the prairie,” Dusek said.

She wanted to bring the African safari camping experience to the Montana prairie.

Dusek and her husband started a luxury camping business called Under Canvas, which has locations outside Yellowstone, Glacier and Arches national parks.

“I love going on safari and this is … as good as you find in a posh safari camp in Africa,” Dusek said.

Yellowstone Under Canvas is located about 7 miles outside West Yellowstone on the banks for the South Fork Madison River.

On the site, 72 tents stand under the stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Under Canvas offers a wide range of glamping tents, from deluxe suite tents with king beds, a living room and full bathroom, to tepees with two cots inside.

The tepees are fairly basic. There are no bathrooms or fancy furniture inside. But they’re also the most popular option and most affordable starting at $95 a night. Rates range up to $425 per night.

All of the tents include daily housekeeping.

“We operate exactly as a hotel would,” said Eric Otis, general manager at Yellowstone Under Canvas. “We like to say we’re an inside-out hotel.”

Guests check in inside a canvas tent and their luggage is delivered to their tent via golf cart. The tents come supplied with pillows and bedding or sleeping bags.

“We provide everything,” Otis said.

Glacier Under Canvas, near West Glacier, operates with a similar set-up. However the Glacier site offers a tree house tent perched about 10 feet up a tree complete with a bathroom.

Guests who have never camped often seem a little surprised at first by the accommodations, but after the first day they usually settle in and love it, Otis said.

“They want that Montana experience,” he said. “That’s what they tell us when they check in.”

Even guests who are regular campers enjoy the experience at Under Canvas, Dusek said.

“I think people love the idea of feeling like they’re having an outdoor vacation without having to do all the work,” she said.

While staying at Under Canvas feels a lot less like roughing it than pitching your own tent, “It is still camping,” Dusek said.

Sometimes guests complain that they can’t plug in their hair dryer or that their high heels are sinking into the grass.

“We can’t remove the camping part of this for you,” she said.

Under Canvas attracts visitors from around the country and around the world, but Dusek would like to see more Montanans stay with them.

“I think Montanans are more used to being in the outdoors and more used to camping than the average city folk,” she said.

That means they’re probably more comfortable camping on their own, but would still enjoy the unique experience of staying with Under Canvas.

Camping with butlers

Campground hosts are a common sight, but campgrounds with butlers are unique to the Resort at Paws Up.

Butlers help guests with their luggage, serve breakfast and even make s’mores.

“At night there’s quite the competition between butlers over who makes the best s’mores,” said Kristy de Lange, general manager at Paws Up.

The Resort at Paws Up offers luxury camping along the banks of the Blackfoot River.

Tents have hardwood floors, real beds and attached full bathrooms. A honeymoon tent even has a claw-foot tub in the middle of the tent.

“It’s not roughing it per se,” de Lange said.

Instead, Paws Up offers the experience of camping in luxury.

“It’s the adventure without giving up those creature comforts,” she said.

___

Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide