What is Glamping?
Glamping, a Global Travel Trend
Over the past 10 years, glamping has moved up the ranks of the travel world. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s a primer on this growing trend. It is one of those new, hybrid words like “hangry,” “Spanglish” or “screenager” that are used to describe our changing global lifestyles. Hybrid language is nothing new. Hybrid words have been used to bypass traditional language barriers for centuries, as combining words can give us the ability to communicate a new concept. Some popular examples include “automobile” (the Greek word for self with Latin word for moveable) and “television” (Greek for far and Latin for seeing).
Glamping is the combination of the words “glamour” and “camping.” Although backpackers will scoff at the idea that camping can be upgraded, many people who have slept on the ground for a night or two might admit that they prefer some small luxuries, like a mattress, a shower or a delicious, filling meal prepared after a day of hiking.
A seating area in a canvas cabin at The Ranch at Rock Creek
What’s so attractive about glamping travel is that there are so many possibilities. Anyone can use their creativity to enhance the natural environment and redefine “roughing it.” Glamping can be as simple as splurging on a large framed canvas tent with windows or as complicated as refurbishing an airstream camper van with hardwood floors, full kitchens and a lofted space. Many people think of glamping as something from Harry Potter, thanks to a beautiful rendition of magical tents in the Goblet of Fire movie.
Harry Potter’s glamping tent
We love seeing how luxury glamping holidays have developed across the world, from Santa Barbara Autocamp’s take on the RV park to Sayari Camp in Tanzania. In fact, several of our fellow National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World feature luxury camping in exceptional surroundings. Glamping is not a one-size fits all endeavor, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure, which is why it’s a perfect fit for The Ranch at Rock Creek.
Montana, a Glamping Paradise
The Great Falls Tribune’s Erin Madison recently wrote an article entitled, “Tourists Flock to Montana to Try Glamping,” presenting Montana at the forefront of the glamping movement. The article garnered nationwide readership when it was picked up by USA TODAY and the Washington Times, as well as over a dozen other media outlets.
We believe the attraction stems from the fact that living in Montana balances an appreciation for the wilderness and the pleasures of life—the views, fresh food, minimal traffic and an endless supply of diverting hobbies at our fingertips.
Mountain biking and the ropes course are part of 20+ activities available to glampers at The Ranch
As The Ranch at Rock Creek Director of Facilities Rich Miller says, “Camping is a family tradition for almost anyone who grew up here. Sleeping outside (basically) and getting closer to nature are why people are drawn to Montana, and why people who grew up here tend to stay here. We definitely kicked that experience up a notch by adding the amenities and comforts that we have.”
Glamping can be entirely focused on the tent itself or it can pull in the other aspects of the great outdoors that make camping so attractive. Our all-inclusive glamping approach means that guests take advantage of the proximity of a world-famous fly fishing destination, rodeo arena and 75 beautiful horses. They are just moments away from hiking and biking trails. Glamping goes hand in hand with experiential travel. While we’ve always said we can’t take credit for the scenery, we believe the glamping experience enhances our ability to appreciate and reflect upon it.
Horseback riding at The Ranch
Luxury Glamping, The Ranch at Rock Creek
Glamping has been part of The Ranch at Rock Creek since our luxury guest ranch opened in 2010. The Rock Creek valley might as well have been made for luxury camping sites, thanks to the Blue Ribbon trout stream that bisects a natural valley lacking in any light or noise pollution.
Before we opened, Ranch owner Jim Manley and Ranch employees, like Rich Miller, decided to customize the concept to fit the historical landscape. They would create hybrid structures that would feel at home on a ranch homestead and take advantage of the gurgling stream. Ranch designers created large canvas tents, supported by removable log frames. These unique structures are nestled between a comfortable, hard-framed bathroom and screened porch and sit on a flat meadow near Rock Creek.
The exterior of canvas glamping cabins at The Ranch at Rock Creek
The sizable fly allows them to stay cool during the hot summer months, while the stoves give off plenty of heat in the cooler months—making them ideal for the changing Rocky Mountain weather. These structures, called “canvas cabins,” have a similar footprint as camp sites, because they can be easily removed, leaving no trace of their existence after a few months. They have minimal impact on the environment, providing a highly sustainable way to travel.
The exterior of Trapper Cabin
It’s not just the structure that makes it luxury glamping. Our services and amenities enrich the experience. Each canvas cabin has twin, queen or king-sized beds covered in Frette linens and plush pillows. The screened porch features a reading nook and several cabins come equipped with cedar soaking tubs and stocked mini-refrigerators. They are filled with one-of-a-kind antiques, beautiful quilts, standing mirrors, armoires and western textiles. With four different styles of cabins, they are suited to a family on their first summer glamping adventure or a couple seeking a quiet autumn getaway.
The interior of Trapper Cabin
Guests can also enjoy breakfast and dinner in a bespoke glamping cabin called the Blue Canteen. While the tent is sheltered and decorated by cornflower blue and barn-red antiques, you can sip your morning coffee or afternoon beer while watching the eagles and osprey alight on the cottonwoods and willows that line Rock Creek.
Glamping dining in the Blue Canteen
The Blue Canteen’s fare is crafted by our Executive Chef Josh Drage, who feels passionate about preparing food in an authentic fireside atmosphere, as well as in a state-of-the-art kitchen. Before going to culinary school and earning his name as a Relais & Chateaux chef, Drage learned to cook in his family’s cabin in Alaska over a wood fire grill. You might enjoy a six-course tasting menu in the Granite Lodge one night, and then appreciate his prowess with a Dutch oven the next.
The Summer Friday Morning Breakfast Ride with frittatas and biscuits and gravy cooked in Dutch ovens
A Dutch oven is a cast-iron cooking pot that uses heat from wood or charcoal to evenly cook a variety of dishes, from seafood cioppino to braised elk and greens to apple pies. While it has been used in ceramic and clay forms in many countries, the Dutch developed the design for the cast iron and enamel versions that have become popular in the United States. In the West, the Dutch oven is traditionally used during camping trips and by sportsmen who put a premium on ingredients and flavor when cooking their freshly caught meat or fish. The rich, full-bodied flavors of the wood fire grill, combined with fresh, local ingredients are a decadent addition to our glamping vacations. During the summer, Drage serves a Dutch oven dinner on Sundays on the Flagstone and a Friday breakfast by Piney Pond.
The Friday Morning Breakfast Ride to Piney Pond
We hope we’ve given you a taste of glamping. To help you try it at home, Chef Drage has shared one of his Dutch oven recipes below. If you can’t eat it outside, near the murmur of a creek, we hope you’ll come try our version and see why this travel hybrid is gaining so much international attention.
The Sapphire Range Frittata
Bacon and Gouda Frittata with Tomatoes and Avocado
1 lb. bacon
1 bunch scallions
1 cup cubed gouda (We suggest Flathead Lake Cheese Company Gouda)
2 oz. clarified butter
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
Juice of one lemon
1 bunch of parsley
Pinch of chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 oz. olive oil
1. Prepare your morning camp fire. It is important to produce coals for effective Dutch oven cooking. Once the firewood has mostly reduced to coals, use a shovel to push the flaming wood to one side of the fire ring. On the other side of the ring, away from the flame, create a flat cooking surface covered with a small layer of coals (equal to 10 small pieces of charcoal).
2. Place your Dutch oven (lid on) atop the coal-covered cooking surface. Shovel an equal amount of coals onto the top of the oven. Allow the dry (no oil or ingredients within) Dutch oven to pre-heat for 10 minutes prior to cooking.
3. Cut bacon into one-inch pieces. Sauté until crisp in another pan on your fire. Remove the bacon with a spoon and set it aside in a bowl for later.
4. Prepare the garnish. Halve the cherry tomatoes and chop the parsley. Halve and pit the avocado. Cut into small pieces and place the tomatoes, parsley and avocado in a bowl. Add lemon juice, salt, chili flakes and olive oil. Toss and set the bowl aside.
5. Cube the gouda cheese and set it aside.
6. Whip the eggs thoroughly in a bowl until they begin to lighten. Add the scallion and whip together.
7. Remove the lid on the Dutch oven using thick oven mitts, placing it on the rocks of your fire ring. Keep some coals on top to retain even cooking temperature while it rests.
8. Add clarified butter to the Dutch oven and pour in the eggs. Scrape across the bottom with a spatula to fold in the cooking eggs as they bubble. Repeat the folding process until the eggs are about one-third cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Add the bacon and gouda. Fold into the eggs quickly. Replace the lid of the Dutch oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes without peeking.
10. Check the frittata after the allotted time. Remove the Dutch oven from the coals. If the eggs aren’t fully cooked, fold through one more time before serving.
11. Garnish the top of the finished frittata with your tomato and avocado mixture. Adjust your garnish to include whatever is in season in your area. Serve around the campfire.