Railcars and Eco-Lodges: Explore Arizona’s Glamping Scene
Camp in luxurious, quirky, natural and downright unique style as you travel the state.
You don't have to "rough it" to experience the great outdoors in Arizona. Several campgrounds and outfitters offer "glamping," or glamorous camping, options.
Canyon Motel & RV Park, Williams
Travelers along Route 66 in Northern Arizona don't have to pitch a tent to camp on the historic highway. Instead, glamp in style at the Canyon Motel and RV Park's converted railway car or caboose suites.
The renovated 1950s Pullman classic railway car is separated into three guest suites - accommodating two to four people - each with its own bathroom and everything you'd expect in a "traditional" motel room. Larger families and groups can book one of two 1929 Santa Fe caboose suites, which are rented out as a whole and can accommodate up to six people each.
The Canyon Motel is within walking distance (or a quick, two-minute drive) to Williams' restaurants, shops and attractions, including the Grand Canyon Railroad.
Raven's Nest Nature Sanctuary, Patagonia
Credit: Ravens-Way Wild Journeys
Nestled in a mesquite bosque near Patagonia Lake in Southern Arizona, Raven's Nest operates two secluded glamping sites at their eco-friendly retreat. At each site, African-style safari canvas tents atop wooden platforms are outfitted with rustic furnishings, fans in the summer (heaters and electric blankets in the winter) and an outdoor shower. Flaps at both ends are equipped with screen doors, allowing fresh airflow, and comfort comes in the form of adjustable, queen-size Sleep Number air mattresses and private en-suite bathrooms.
When you aren't relaxing on the patio or rocking in your hammock, enjoy birdwatching excursions, astronomy programs, biodiversity tours, botanical walks, wilderness survival workshops and more hosted by Raven's Way Wild Journeys.
Arizona Nordic Village, Flagstaff
At the Arizona Nordic Village in Northern Arizona, you can spend the night in a yurt, a circular tent common among the nomadic tribes of Central Asia. The yurts at Nordic Village are a tad more permanent and an adventurous option for up to four people. Their yurts come equipped with beds, bunks or mattress pads and wood stoves, and each has a window-like bubble at its top so you can count stars instead of sheep as you fall asleep.
While the yurts are fairly basic, they are conveniently located. It's only a 30-minute drive from Arizona Nordic Village to downtown Flagstaff and an hour to the Grand Canyon.
Shash Dine' Eco-Retreat, Page
Credit: Shash Dine Eco-Retreat
Located on a working sheep farm 12 miles south of Page in Northern Arizona, Shash Dine' Eco-Retreat a Glamping B&B introduces guests to Navajo culture. Stay in one of two canvas bell tents, two covered sheepherder wagons or two hogans, including one the owner Baya Meehan's grandmother once called home. (There's also a cabin with handmade furniture.)
All guests at this off-the-grid bed & breakfast enjoy private "camp showers," plush bedding and a traditional Navajo breakfast of blue corn porridge with fresh fruit. The real perk is the landscape. A five-minute hike up a nearby ridge reveals the Colorado River, Lake Powell and distant mountain ranges.
Arizona Luxury Expeditions, Statewide
Taking inspiration from African safaris, Arizona Luxury Expeditions offers a classic glamping experience - travelers are led on custom adventures throughout Arizona during the day, then retire to luxury tents at night. Each extra-large tent (or hogan in Monument Valley tours) is outfitted with an elevated queen bed (or two twin beds), decorative floor coverings, fans, lighting and bedside tables. (All lodging includes toilets and showers.)
In the morning, guides prepare hearty breakfasts featuring items such as fresh-made cinnamon buns, eggs, bacon and pancakes, all served in a screened-in dining space. Dinner options include steaks grilled over an open fire, pan-fried trout and stew simmered in a Dutch oven.
The Cozy Peach at Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek
The 300-acre organic farm and orchard has 10 vintage trailers - including four Airstreams - that mix retro with modern amenities for a fun, kitchy experience. Jam along to their 8-track tape sound systems or watch a show on your flat-screen TV. Front porches with fenced-in grass yards complete each rental.
Spend the day riding the farm's bicycles to the onsite U-pick produce and flower gardens, or walk to nearby Queen Creek Olive Mill. At night, roast marshmallows at your private fire pit before retiring to beds with 5-star quality bedding, down comforters and feather pillows. The Cozy Peach will also offer "trailer service," where guests can order farm-fresh breakfast or lunch, including - one hopes - Schnepf Farm's famous peach cinnamon rolls.
About the Author
Teresa Bitler is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Wine Enthusiast, and AAA publications. She is the author of two guidebooks and a contributor to Fodors Arizona & The Grand Canyon. Her work can be found at teresatravelstheworld.com.