When it comes to the PNW, things just keep getting better as you go north. Northern California? Meh. Oregon? You’re getting warmer.
But as you move through Washington and into British Columbia you start getting into the most concentrated “Pacific-Northwest-ness” that you can find. Majestic, green, beautiful, everything that the southern part of the PNW aspires to be.
So it stands to reason that, if you’re a camper, you’ll want to spend as much time camping in British Columbia as possible. However, sleeping in a tent on the ground isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when the ground is full of roots (PNW, ya know…) and your back is already full of knots.
So, without further ado, these are some of the options that you have if you want to do a bit of glamping in British Columbia. These tent alternatives offer varying levels of comfort depending on where you are but they all have one thing in common, they’re better than a tent.
1. Yurt Camping In BC
Inspired by the circular tents of the nomadic peoples of Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey, yurts are a great choice if you’re camping and want to have a bit more comfort (or protection from the weather).
Yurts have become a mainstay in many PNW campgrounds, particularly in Oregon where almost every state or national park has half a dozen to rent.
Renting a yurt can end up just about anywhere on the luxury spectrum. Several of the yurts rented in state parks, for example, are listed as “Rustic.” This means that it’s pretty much just a large tent. Even in nicer yurts, you’ll often bring your own bedding, cooking supplies, etc.
In the most luxury of glamping yurts, however, you’ll be treated to fine sleeping arrangements, a full kitchen, a private bathroom, and possibly even a TV. However, be prepared to have your wallet out as you peruse AirBNB or VRBO for such listings as they can set you back much more than a similarly outfitted hotel room.
The yurt experience (and location) however might just be worth it to you!
When we visit parks we typically choose to camp for a couple of nights and then spring for a yurt on the final night. It gives us something to look forward to and breaks things up a little.
There are also yurt villages (really just vacation rental companies) where you can find lodging easily. For example, situated above Vancouver Island’s Port Renfrew, Soule Creek Lodge’s yurts let guests stay high in the forest with wrap-around decks that have sweeping views of San Juan Bay and the Salish Sea.
What’s more, they have hotel comforts like mosaic-tiled bathrooms and comfortable king beds.
If you’re interested in a beach-yurt experience instead, check out Barefoot Beach Resort at Penticton’s Skaha Lake. They have options that included vaulted ceilings, domed skylights, deep soaker tubs, and hardwood floors.
Just don’t glamp so hard that you forget that you’re actually in British Columbia…
With the strong Native American history of the PNW I’m always glad to see some of it preserved in the form of Teepees and similar options. Even if they were never actually used in the Northwest.
And when I say “authentic teepee experience” I’m afraid it might not put you quite in the right space if you’re looking at glamping.
You’ll need to bring your own sleeping mats and cooking gear if you want to have any semblance of luxury.
Again, however, you can turn to rental companies and AirBNB’s Unique Stays to find a teepee that has all the amenities you could want.
3. Vacation Cabins
If you’re looking at spending a longer period of time in BC, looking at vacation cabins is much preferable to spending it all in a tent.
BC’s camping restrictions mean that it’s typically far easier to rent a cabin that allows you to remain totally private and socialize only with the people in your group.
While you’ll get the best rates and experience renting a cabin from a private seller (as many offer a 30% discount for longer stays) you can also find many cabins run by companies that are in a specific area that you want to visit.
4. Safari-style Tents
BC is also home to many world-class wilderness retreats where nature meets luxury in remote locations. Most of them are for people who have far more money than I.
However, there are a few that offer safari-style tents (think rectangular canvas walls) that provide a nice comfortable getaway experience.
One of these is the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, near Tofino in the UNESCO-protected Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. In addition to beautiful scenery, they have an abundance of canvas riverside tents that are decked out with antique furnishings, vintage oil lamps, and private decks. If you’re lucky, you might even get one of the ones with an en-suite, albeit outdoor, bathroom.
In BC’s interior, Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, overlooking Siwash Lake, has several structures which we might classify as “tents” but are made of handcrafted spruce logs and pioneer-style white canvas. If a lake view is important to you, this is an awesome place to visit!
5. Tent Cabins
Combining the comfort of a cabin with the freedom of canvas, tent cabins are an upscale way to enjoy nature. Like yurts, tent cabins include “proper” beds and can range from a simple sleeping area to upscale romantic options.
On the Sunshine Coast, Rockwater Secret Cove Resort’s “Tenthouse Suites” (a play on “penthouse”, it took me a minute to get it…) offer hotel-esque amenities such as fine linens, fireplaces, therapy tubs, and amazing views, all in a forest setting.
Many people who escape to the PNW and BC in particular are looking to eschew a bit of civilization and get in touch with nature.
If you’re one of the types that can connect with nature just fine while still showering daily and enjoying good food and sleep then glamping is probably more your speed!
So whether you choose a teepee or a safari-style wilderness resort, British Columbia has camping options that combine natural beauty, wildlife, and comfort in ways that will make you loathe to ever come back.