By Marilyn Jones
The word “glamping” was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, although living in a furnished tent goes back centuries. The modern version of a “glamp” –or “glamorous camp” – consists of a fully equipped tent on a platform, allowing guests to be one with nature without the work of setting up a traditional tent campsite.
There are dozens of glamping sites across Alabama, each with different amenities. Where will your glamping experience take you?
The Cynefin at Folklore Forest
The Cynefin at Folklore Forest is located on Lookout Mountain in a pristine area next to rushing waters in northeast Alabama.
“Cynefin is a Welsh term meaning ‘place where one’s soul finds peace,’” says co-owner Kelly Daspit. “I felt this the first time we stepped foot on this land, listened to the river rippling over the rocks, and breathed in that mountain air.”
The tent is a 13-foot canvas bell tent on an elevated platform. Inside is a queen-size bed with a memory foam mattress, a wood-burning camp stove, a propane heater, and all the supplies a guest might need, including a pop-up tent, folding cot, and cooking supplies.
The tent is entirely off the grid. There’s no electricity, running water, cell service or Wi-Fi.
Kelly and her husband, Tommy, began offering glamping options recently. “There wasn’t a lot of competition for a glamping-type setup, and it’s something we enjoy doing ourselves,” she says. “So, we decided to give it a try.”
The property offers fishing and kayaking, with about 270 feet of Little River frontage access.
When renting the bell tent, specific instructions about included provisions and what guests should bring are provided.
“The thing we hear the most from guests is that if you love tent camping, but don’t want to go through the trouble of having to load all the supplies and gear into the car, setting it all up, and then packing it back up, then our place is perfect,” says Kelly. “All they have to do is show up with their food, and they’re good to go!”
The Destination Glamping Resort
For a top-of-the-line glamping experience, check out The Destination near Lake Martin, less than an hour from Montgomery.
Skip and Rhonda Courtney began their journey to Alabama from Nashville, where they owned short-term rentals. When it became more like “Nash-Vegas” they sold their business and started looking for land with a water feature.
“We fell in love with this property,” says Skip. “We purchased 104 acres and began making improvements like roads, power, and septic.
“We wanted creative, unique lodging,” he says of his nationally recognized property. “We built two, one-bedroom tent units and two, two-bedroom tent units.
“They are built on decks with outdoor living space, overlooking Sandy Creek and spaced at least 80 yards apart. The one-bedroom units are 370 square feet. The two-bedroom units are 650 square feet,” Skip says.
Each features beautiful flooring, granite countertops, and tile bathrooms.
“We’re on Sandy Creek, which empties into Lake Martin,” he explains. “Guests can hike, canoe, kayak, fish, or just relax.”
Sandy Creek Lodge, on the glamping property, serves as a common area for meetings, events, and Sunday brunches with a beautiful view of the creek from the upper deck. Private dining experiences can be reserved for resort guests in the downstairs wine cellar. They plan to eventually have cooking classes, Skip says.
“Our goal is to provide an environment and activities that allow guests to explore and grow their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health,” he says. “And I think we accomplish it.”
“We found some of the most beautiful lands in Alabama and simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make our dreams of an art-inspired campground, gathering place, retreat location, you name it, come to life,” says Dana Gale, one of a small group of partners that owns Bohamia.
Located in Talladega County just east of Birmingham, Bohamia started over a year ago, and the property already has six glamping tents.
The glamping units are A-frame structures with metal roofs, canvas interiors, and decks with private wooded views, Dana says. “Each glamping site is furnished with a queen-sized bed, linens, bedside tables and an overhead light, electrical outlets, air conditioning and heat, a rug and lamp, deck chairs, and a solo stove.”
A local artist has decorated each of the glamping sites on the back exterior panel.
“We wanted to create a more boutique style campground that exceeds most outdoor enthusiasts’ expectations. We have big plans for Bohamia in the coming months and years,” she says.
Also on site is a state-of-the-art modern bathhouse within just a few minutes’ walk from all the glamping sites. “We offer private showers and toilets with floor-to-ceiling doors, sinks, a dishwashing station, and a water bottle filler,” she says.
There are bonfires on weekend evenings (weather permitting), and the partners arrange occasional fly fishing lessons and guided nature hikes with local biologists. One weekend is devoted to herping – searching for reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitats.
There are also primitive campsites, including a fire ring with a grill grate for cooking and a picnic table.
“We have several marked hiking trails – one leading to a stunning creek and waterfall, a stocked pond for fishing, and access to both Talladega Creek and Talladega Lake. We are also close to ‘blue hole,’ a popular swimming area in the chilly waters of Dry Creek. The hiking possibilities are endless. Our property spans 268 acres and is adjacent to the Talladega National Forest on three sides.
“Guests only need their food, a cooler, and cooking utensils,” she says. “Our camp store offers ice, firewood, snacks, drinks, and several often-forgotten items like large beach towels, blankets, coffee mugs, travel mugs, and more.”
ACES-Graham Farm and Nature Center
This unique property near the Paint Rock Valley of Jackson County offers glamping and traditional camping but also serves as an educational outreach location for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
GFNC offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, canoeing, birding and fishing, as well unique programs, including animal science, water education, agricultural production and wildlife management. The center also hosts companies and organizations who want to hold a retreat or team-building opportunity.
For the glamps, the large canvas bell tents are heated and cooled and have beds with real mattresses and linens. They’re fully decorated inside and include lamps, string lights and an assortment of board games.
For more information, call Donna Sands at 256-453-0716.
State Parks get into glamping
Glamping experiences are coming to six of the Alabama State Parks. The first, at Wind Creek State Park on Lake Martin near Alexander City, was set to open April 21 as of press time. Other parks that will soon add glamping sites are Chewacla by mid-May, Lake Guntersville by Memorial Day, and Cheaha, DeSoto and Monte Sano this summer, according to a news release from the State Parks.
The State Parks has partnered with Timberline Glamping to manage and operate the new sites. The company also offers glamping at multiple sites in Georgia and Florida.
To make glamping reservations at Wind Creek, visit LakeMartin.tlglamping.com. And for the sites that are coming soon, visit TimberlineGlamping.com.
Want to glamp?
You may want to consider glamping if you love the great outdoors but would rather someone else takes care of your woodsy accommodations. The key to this wilderness fun is to know your budget, do a little investigating, and enjoy!
The Cynefin at Folklore Forest: $98 a night.
Located near the tiny mountain town of Mentone, there are miles of hiking trails nearby, and it is minutes from DeSoto State Park. Or you can spend the day shopping in Mentone and eating at one of the local restaurants.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Destination Glamping Resort: $250 and $450 a night.
The two smaller tents feature one bedroom, one bath, and a living room with complete plumbing, heat and air, a fridge, and a microwave. Outside is a propane grill and a 7-foot by 7-foot hot tub. Maximum occupancy for each tent is four guests. ($250 a night, two-night minimum).
The two larger tents have two bedrooms, one bath, and a living room with the same features as the one-bedroom tents. One of the tents is ADA-compliant. Maximum occupancy for each tent is six guests. ($450 a night, two-night minimum).
In addition to Lake Martin, nearby sites include Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, and Martin Dam Tours.
For more information, check the website at TheDestinationGlampingResort.com or call (615) 477-9813.
Bohamia: $99 a night
There’s plenty to do nearby, including Bryant Vineyard, Coosa River for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Nearby attractions include Talladega SuperSpeedway and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In addition to Talladega National Forest, Cheaha State Park and DeSoto Caverns are also very close to Bohamia.
For more information, check the website at bohamia.com or call 205-678-1283.