“Glamping” with Backroads

glamping2  [glamping] verb  a higher form of camping utilized by individuals used to the finer things in life. aka. glamorous camping

My husband recently mentioned he thought it would be nice to take our son camping.   What!  It’s been over 20 years since I did a road trip/camping trip down the Baja Peninsula.  Somehow in my 20’s this seemed perfectly logical but now I would rather endure the latest Four Seasons Hotel!   So what’s a travel professional to do?  Book the next best thing….. A Backroads Adventure!

I have just returned from a week of hiking, biking and “glamping” (glamorous camping) with Backroads in Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.     There were a total of 4 families in the Backroads group made up of 9 adults and 10 kids ranging in age from 6 to 17 years of age.  I highly recommend the trip to any family that is modestly adventurous and wanting to put the cell phones away and get back in touch with nature and your family.   Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or would like more information.

Our trip comprised 6 days and 5 nights = 1 night in Bryce Canyon, 2 nights at the Grand Canyon and 2 nights at Zion (which was our favorite).  Each day comprised one or two organized hikes and/or bike rides which were very well supported by our exceptional and highly qualified group leaders (they were amazing) and offered the scope for each and every individual to bite off as much exercise and adventure as they were able to take on.  In the couple of instances difficulty was sufficiently easy that no one in the group was unable to finish.  If you and your family are capable of 2 hours of Holiday shopping in Manhattan you are more than ready to keep up with the group.  Saying that there were always opportunities to push yourself as hard as you liked…..and we did on a few occasions.

During our second day at the Grand Canyon all the kids were treated to a 2 hour Mule ride through the park.  During that segment the adults did a hike descending into the Grand Canyon and back.  Since it was an in and out hike you could go as far as you were comfortable and then turn around.  This gave all of the adults a chance to push your body or just relax in the beauty of the Canyon.  Everyone could do a personally tailored hike that was well supported with information about the geology, flora and fauna and park history as well as food, water and hand holding.  On our second last day at Zion we had a similar opportunity to venture out without or kids as they were taken on a half day of Canyoneering with expert local guides.   My husband and I did a relatively strenuous hike to a rendezvous point at which point we opted for a route that was breathtakingly beautiful, with virtually no people that made us feel like we were totally away from civilization.   Based on the photos and feedback our kids were having more fun repelling down ropes and climbing rock faces.   Our boy was the youngest and although frightened at times he was pushed just the right amount to not terrify him, learn some skills and become more confident in a new situation.  I could not have been happier with his experience.  I think all the older kids experienced all fun and no apprehension.

The “glamping” experience was exceptional.  Our camp was completely set up and taken down by the Backroads leaders who are logistical experts.  Our entering and departing of a camp was not that different from checking in and out of a hotel.  Pack your personal belongings and get them to the lobby and the rest is taken care of.   Breakfasts comprised an early cold breakfast (yogurt, cereal, granola, juices, hot coffee and possibly pastry) followed an hour later by a hot breakfast (eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and some vegetables were typically on the menu).   Half the time our lunches were similar to a catered event in the country with 3 o r 4 salads, fixings for sandwiches, fruit and desert and the other half the time we made our own lunches in the morning (mostly sandwiches from a big selection) to take with us on an off the beat and path lunch.   Getting back into camp in the afternoon was typically between 3:30 and 5:00 depending on the day.  There were always some snacks, juice, soda, beer and wine around to take the edge off until appetizers hit the picnic table at 6:00.  A full on camp dinner commenced around 7:00.   Dinners were a feeding frenzy which were very competently done and nicely served.  (no paper plates here).  Dinners had a couple salads, a couple vegetables and usually two entrees with a few vegetarians in our crowd made very happy.  Some of our entrees included vegetarian lasagna, burgers, burritos (steak, chicken and tofu), spaghetti with red sauce, grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, and grilled chicken.  To be honest I can’t remember all the dishes but I do remember not going hungry and enjoying every meal.

With the few mid day breaks and pre and post dinner down time the adults typically lounged and the kids burned off their last few ounces of energy playing games.   The camp leaders did a fantastic job of initiating physical activities (sports, tag, little hikes, tree climbing, wildlife citing) as well as board and card games for those with not much left in the tank.  My son, and I believe all 9 other kids, had one of the best vacations of their lives.  Not to mention the fun of sleeping in a tent.  Showers were made available to us every day and although they were far from luxurious they felt luxurious after a day of activities in the great outdoors.

I think that most families that take this trip do it because they think their kid(s) will love it, have a new adventure, learn a bit about nature, see America and be physically challenged and that the parents will tag along for the ride.  If you sign up don’t be surprised if you have a great time, learn a bit about nature and the parks, get a bit of exercise and fresh air and totally love it.  I did, my husband did and I think 9 out of 9 adults in our group walked away very satisfied on many fronts.   On top of it all we met some great people who we will likely stay in touch with….who knew.