"Glamping" (glamorous camping) is a growing global phenomenon that combines camping with the luxury and amenities of a home or hotel -- be it in a travel trailer complete with the comforts of home or in a canvas tent with wood floors, comfortable queen-size beds, spa facilities and gourmet meals. Either way, if you're the type that's not crazy about sleeping on the ground, outdoors in a flimsy tent, then glamping may just be your answer.
We took the first option during our road trip through Idaho and Montana with our Airstream travel trailer glamping at some of the finest campgrounds while cooking up delicious meals prepared in our tiny silver kitchen. Sourcing fresh ingredients from local markets we find along our way not only gives us an inside look into the local food culture but also gives us the opportunity to make friends with the locals.
On one particular morning during our road trip, we rose early to unhitch the Airstream and depart our campground in Hamilton, MT along the Bitterroot River making our way deep into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. From its rugged peaks and connection to four national forests, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is a popular destination for people looking to spend time in the wild and for us was where our next glamping adventure would be with Storm Creek Outfitters.
Slowly winding our way a good hour through dirt and gravel roads deep into the remote wilderness, we finally reach the top of Nez Perce Pass along the Idaho and Montana divide. We step out of the truck and while taking in the sweeping views, I pondered for a moment what our accommodations would be like so distant from civilization.
Upon arriving at camp we were warmly greeted by our hosts Steve and Lorrie Burson who run Storm Creek Outfitters along with guide Cory who took us via Jeep to the top of Hells Half Acre Fire Lookout. From here you could see forever.
Upon returning back to camp, Lorrie presented us with appetizers of bacon-wrapped shrimp and a glass of wine while we sat down to relax. Shortly after for dinner, we feasted on perfectly cooked pork tenderloin, homemade bread baked by Steve's mom, crisp salad and fresh indigenous berries for desert all while taking in our alpine surroundings. Gathering around the fire pit in the evening while roasting marshmallows, we listened to Steve's historical stories about the area and learned so much.
A luminous sunrise awoke us the next morning and as we emerged from our cozy tents, we immediately noticed the fresh crisp mountain air while we headed into the main lodge for a gourmet breakfast and hot coffee. As we sat around the family style table we talked about our day. Steve would be our guide for a dry fly fishing experience on the upper Selway River. Letting no grass grow under our feet we packed up our gear and headed toward the river. On his second cast, Bradley (my 9-year-old son) watched a rather large trout rise to his fly. He set the hook firmly in the fish's mouth. The fish fought hard but Bradley reeled him in and like a true sportsman, he released his trout back into the softer current. Our day continued on like that catching and releasing a dozen or so fish. Reluctantly we then took a break from fly fishing for a riverside picnic. Never in my life had I set my eyes on such a beautiful river as the Selway. What an experience!
On the final and last day, our guides Cory and Will directed us to the Montana and Idaho divide where they saddled up five horses to begin an alpine riding adventure into the heavens of photo journalism. The alpine meadows were adorned with Bear Grass, Indian Paint Brush, and Alpine Lupine with the Bitterroot and Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.
The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness from the buffalo hunting trails carved into the hillsides for thousands of years by the Native Americans, toed on the same ground as Lewis and Clark, to "Magruder's Gold," one of the greatest stories of the Old West, the land here is as rich in history as it is deep in beauty.
In your search for challenging pristine alpine destinations with the amenities of a five-star hotel consider glamping. You won't be disappointed.
All photos by: Monica Bennett
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