A few years ago a friend of mine confided in me that she hated camping. This otherwise very outdoorsy individual couldn’t understand why someone would pay money to sleep on the ground—it was tempting to see her point. However, I have come to adore sleeping under the night sky with the sounds of nature’s chorus lulling me to sleep. The only part I struggle with is the good sleep part of the equation. While gear has come a long way since the days of foam pads and flannel sleeping bags, I still toss and turn throughout the night, wishing that my slumber matched the magnificence of the dawn that greets me in the morning.
Lucky for me (and other sleep deprived camping folk), the trend of glamping has hit the hospitality scene, making both good sleeping and stunning star-gazing within reach of even the most hesitant of campers. Glamping (short for glamorous camping), transports all of the amenities of a traditional hotel room to the great outdoors. And Piney River Ranch, just outside of Vail Colorado, not only boasts three glamping tents, but also the surrounding beauty to make a weekend both unforgettable and comfortable.
Tent camping takes on a whole new definition at Piney River Ranch. The log-framed, canvas-walled tents are spacious, cozy and modern in design. Enjoy your weekend getaway in these perfectly curated rooms while sipping your favorite cup of coffee by the fire. One of the most challenging aspects to camping, especially at a high elevation, is staying warm. The Ranches’ glamping tents have a wood burning stove to take the edge out of the cool mountain air—although the ranch does recommend bringing extra blankets or sleeping bags for particularly cool nights. The tents at the Ranch can house up to four people and are family-friendly. Each tent has a picnic table and fire pit along with a small porch with chairs for enjoying the views. Guests are encouraged to bring their own camp stove and food options when staying in the tents as the restaurant on property is only open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
The property also has four lakeside cabins and a yurt that can sleep larger groups. Piney River Ranch is an ideal place for weddings, family reunions, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and other large events.
It’s rare to find a timeless experience in today’s modern world, which is why Piney River Ranch is such a gem. Located just 12 miles from the town of Vail, the ranch is one of the most breathtaking properties in the area. Massive peaks from the Gore range frame the lush wilderness surrounding the high alpine lake and moose are often seen ambling by the property. With simplicity at its core, the ranch prides itself on letting its natural surroundings take center stage.
As a gateway to the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, the ranch is encompassed by protected lands. This unique characteristic leaves guests with the feeling of finding a hidden treasure in the somewhat saturated outdoor playground off of the I-70 corridor.
Nostalgia seeps into the bones of many guests once on the ranch, as their memories begin to percolate—family mountain vacations, summer camp experiences, and getting lost in the woods. Even those who didn’t grow up drunk on Rocky Mountain air feel nostalgic at the possibility of creating new traditions that harken from a different era and a more simpler life. Even locals escape the hubbub of the Vail Valley to take a pause, get away from the crowds, and be reminded of the calming power of the mountains.
Piney River Ranch has a bevy of opportunities to maximize your outdoor experience. If you are looking to take it easy, choose a corner of the property to just sit back and relax. The boat dock, pavilion, fire rings, and sporadically spaced benches on the property are all great places to sit back and enjoy the view. If water is more your speed, take a leisurely paddle on the lake or see what lays beyond the lake in the river—the ranch offers guided canoe rentals to explore the ranches’ waterways. Novice and experienced fisherman can rent gear, sign up for a clinic, or get a fully guided fly fishing experience with Piney’s experts.
Guests can also explore the surrounding area by guided horseback. One and two-hour rides are open daily for reservation. Finally, one of the most unique aspects to the property is the hiking accessibility. While hikes in the Vail area promise spectacular views, many of them are also very steep. Piney River Ranches’ property boasts gentle and rewarding hikes that are family-friendly. Whether you are looking for a waterfall, seeking wildlife, or are interested in peaking Mt. Powell, the many trails and diverse landscapes will satisfy all levels of adventurers.
Piney River Ranch
700 Red Sandstone Rd.
Vail, CO 81657
Open June 21 through the last weekend in September
Lodging: Three glamping tents (sleeps four each), four cabins (sleeps eight each), one yurt (sleeps 10).
Pricing: Glamping Tents $219/night, Cabins $249-359/night, Yurt $429/night.
Barbecue restaurant on property is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Showers and bathrooms are located in men’s and women’s guest bathhouses.
Mountain lover, novice adventurer, writer, maker and baker, Jordan Martindell is Colorado girl with sophisticated sensibilities who believes comfort does not have to be sacrificed when playing outdoors. During the summer months, she can be found in a tent, surrounded by her own array of glamping gear.
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