Into the Wild (With Creature Comforts)

Iconic national parks — from the Grand Canyon and Glacier to the Great Smoky Mountains — now offer outdoor expeditions by day and plush safari-style tents by night. Private resorts around the world also are catering to the desire for roughing it gently.

Some noteworthy glamping sites:

Iceland

Glamping in Iceland brings natural wonders, including the Northern Lights, into closer view. Photo by Cox & Kings USA
Glamping in Iceland brings natural wonders, including the Northern Lights, into closer view. Photo by Cox & Kings USA

Glaciers, volcanoes, geysers and waterfalls have made Iceland a hot destination in recent years. Get closer to the spectacular scenery on Cox & Kings’ private, nine-day Iceland Luxury Glamping Experience. Clients spend five nights in a campground where tents sport duvet-covered beds and a private chef prepares a gourmet dinner nightly, plus one night in a Reykjavik hotel and two nights in a Southern Iceland lodge.

Iceland’s cozy glamping tents offer duvet-covered beds, woolen blankets and rustic furnishings. Photo by Cox & Kings USA
Iceland’s cozy glamping tents offer duvet-covered beds, woolen blankets and rustic furnishings. Photo by Cox & Kings USA

During the day, activities include descending to the bottom of Thrihnukagigur Volcano by a 45-minute hike and 400-foot cable lift; soaking in the iconic waters of the Blue Lagoon and natural hot springs; and spelunking in Vatnshellir Cave, an 8,000 year old lava tube created by volcanic eruption. Safari buggy and Jeep rides also help clients explore the unique landscape, home to the original geyser (plus about 30 more in the vicinity) and the thundering, multitier cataract known as Gullfoss.

For the most unusual experience, try fresh-water snorkeling between two continents, in the chasm between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park. From $12,795 per person, double occupancy. coxandkingsusa.com

Big Sur, California

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Glamping in California’s Big Sur region provides easy access to the coast.
Photo by Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort

Hidden in 20 acres of towering trees on Northern California’s dramatic Big Sur coastline, the Redwood Canyon campground of Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, provides all kinds of comforts. Inside the 15 floored tents are instant hot water, a drinking tap and sink, premium linens on a thick mattress, an electric blanket and hot-water bottles (nights cool down quickly here), power outlets with USB ports, an ice chest, a gas-burning fire pit, Adirondack chairs and handheld lanterns.

The lanterns come in handy in the evening for the short stroll through the woods to the handsome Bath House, offering teak-enclosed showers, heated floors, marble vanities and hotel-quality restrooms. A few even more secluded tents, known as the Canyon sites, also have their own bath facilities.

Just outside each tent is a picnic table and woodburning fire pit, but be sure to hike or drive uphill to Ventana Big Sur for a memorable meal with sweeping ocean views at the Sur House. Glamping guests who pay an additional fee also can enjoy the recently remodeled resort’s two heated pools, infinity-edge hot tub and (clothing-optional) Japanese baths; a sommelier-led wine-and-cheese hour in the aptly named Social House; and its spa and fitness center. From $600 a night ($800 with private guided hike and picnic lunch), plus $50 for optional resort access. ventanabigsur.com/glamping

Chiang Rai, Thailand

Four Seasons’ glamping tents in Northern Thailand feature luxurious bedding, soaking tubs, antiques and sweeping views. Photo by Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
Four Seasons’ glamping tents in Northern Thailand feature luxurious bedding, soaking tubs, antiques and sweeping views. Photo by Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle

Welcome to the jungle — Northern Thailand’s bamboo version. The all-inclusive adventure starts even before arriving at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle: After guests land at Chiang Rai International Airport, a guide shuttles them through rice fields and villages to meet a traditional long-tail boat for a ride down the river to the lush region bordering Burma and Laos.

From the dock, verdant hillside trails lead to the 15 air-conditioned tents, decorated with metalwork by local artisans, rustic wood furnishings, and antiques and artwork reflecting each tent’s individual (sometimes quirky) theme — elephants, botany, knives, opium, the Burmese alphabet, etc. All have a lounging deck with Ruak River or jungle views, an indoor bathroom with soaking tub and an outdoor rain shower; some include a private outdoor whirlpool.

Further adventures include learning how to bathe elephants before exploring the wilderness with them; guided hikes to waterfalls, hot springs and tea plantations; river excursions and interactions with the area’s distinctive hill tribes. Book an al fresco spa treatment before tucking into a “jungle-to-table” meal on site at sumptuous Nong Yao restaurant. It’s easy to add on a stay at the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, where a new Muay Thai kickboxing package enlists professionals to get you in fighting shape. From $2,663 per night (two-night minimum), including meals, beverages and some activities, for ages 10 and older. fourseasons.com/goldentriangle

Halibut Veloute Photo by Waldorf Astoria
Photo by Al Mancini
The backyard of the home at 19 Flying Cloud Lane has unobstructed mountain views.
Glamping in Iceland brings natural wonders, including the Northern Lights, into closer view. Photo by Cox & Kings USA
Vanity Fair menswear editor Christopher Legaspi
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Le Rêve’s Diver’s Dream package offers participants an underwater view of the show. Photo by Tomasz Rossa / Le Rêve
Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict, left, and Golden Knights right wing Ryan Reaves joke around during the game.
Attendees danced throughout the daylong celebration marking 71 years of Israeli independence.
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