This Is One of America's Chicest Glamping Sites — and It Offers Super-luxe Tents and Delicious Dining Near the Grand Canyon
You've never camped like this before.
A road trip to the Grand Canyon for a camping adventure is as classic as American-made vacations get. If you're nostalgic for that familiar feeling but aren't quite into the idea of trekking your entire family into the wilderness and pitching a tent, we have a solution for you — Under Canvas Grand Canyon.
In late June, I made my way from my home in Los Angeles, California to the Grand Canyon to see for myself what all the fuss is about with this ultra-popular, ultra-chic glamping setup. To ensure I could truly judge this old-meets-new school trip, I packed up my own station wagon with my travel partner and dog in tow. As we got closer and closer to the camp's location, just outside of the Grand Canyon's South Rim, I started to wonder if we were lost. There's no towering building, no real sign of life from the main road, and as you get closer, no cell service either. But this, I quickly learned, is all by design.
"Under Canvas welcomes anyone and everyone," May Lilley, the chief marketing officer of Under Canvas, shared with Travel + Leisure. "Outdoor lovers will find themselves right at home. And dogs, too, of course. Even those who don't see themselves as traditional campers enjoy the opportunity to immerse themselves in the best parts of nature, but in an approachable, comfortable way that allows for full appreciation of their surroundings and can be quite transformational for most."
After turning into the Valle Airport, and following the small Under Canvas signs around the bend and onto a dirt road, the tents rose from the desert ground like a mirage. The earthen and muted colors used by the camp only helped to camouflage it from the rest of the world, which is exactly what you want to do on a trip like this.
The camp sits on 160-acres of piñon and juniper forest, just a 25-minute drive outside the park. While you could sit and look out into the wilderness forever, there's real magic happening inside the safari tents as well.
Upon entering the main tent, I was greeted not only by friendly staff, but also by a cooling mist, which was a welcome sensation against the blazing sun outside. Walking a little further into the communal tent it became clear that this was as far from "roughing it" as it gets.
At Under Canvas, guests don't have to worry about packing much, because it comes with its own little shop, coffee on tap 24/7, and a restaurant that could rival any in New York or Los Angeles. While I was expecting to chow down on camp favorites like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and granola, Under Canvas offered meals like seared salmon, vegetable curry, and niçoise salad.
But fear not, my camping purists. Under Canvas also has plenty of fire pits roaring outside and a table full of s'mores accutramont so you can roast up as many as your stomach can handle.
And again, this is just the entryway.
Making our way to our own little tent meant walking down a short but windy path that once again made us feel like we were getting away from it all.
The canvas tents, each built on wooden platforms, all face away from one another for maximum privacy, but if you're booking a stay at the company's Grand Canyon location, try and snag our spot, Tent 40. That's because it faces out into those 160 acres of pristine desert land and makes you feel like you're totally alone.
Inside, we found a king-sized bed topped with cozy blankets, a woodstove for chilly nights, and even a Pendelton bed waiting for our pup. The tent also comes with its own bathroom for added privacy. Just be ready, as the shower is actually a pull-chain, so you still get an element of "camp" within your luxury accommodation.
The showers, the low-flow toilets, and minimal lighting, the company explains, are all a part of the mission. "Our camps use significantly less water and energy than a hotel of similar size," it shares on its website. "Additionally, low-level lighting is used throughout camps, mitigating light pollution and amplifying the night sky."
And that spectacular sky is exactly why you may not catch as many zzz's as you'd like. From the sunset to the moonrise to the sunrise in the morning, it was hard to pull away from the deck outside our tent. Hearing the coyotes howl and watching the bunnies scampering by only added to the sensory experience.
Of course, getting a little rest is key, because the camp also provides adventure packages including Jeep tours, guided hikes, and more. It also provides on-site activities like morning yoga and live bands, so you really never have to leave if you don't want to.
At the end of my stay, I found myself a little sad to be packing up the car once again, yet filled with the joy of knowing family vacations aren't just back, they are exactly as fantastic as I remembered them, thanks in large part to the magic Under Canvas provides. Just make sure to pack your film camera to capture every moment, wait a week or so for the film to deliver, and relive the memories all over again.
Under Canvas tents begin at $229/night. Book your stay here.