Summer is upon us, and as the days grow longer and the mercury rises, my mind can’t help but drift to the outdoors. Deadlines and other real-world responsibilities be damned; I want to throw my hair up in a ponytail, escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and feel the grass between my toes.
Camping is, of course, the most effective Rx for communing with nature. But between labor-intensive campfire meal prep and back-to-back application of DEET, I don’t always want to deal with the hassle of roughing it. A happy compromise: glamping ("glamorous camping," for the uninitiated).
And at Camp Long Creek— a new 40-tent “glampsite” comprising cabins, huts, and tents in Ridgedale, Missouri — it’s possible to reap all the benefits of communing with nature without giving up the amenities of a high-end hotel.
An extension to the popular wilderness resort, Big Cedar Lodge, which was opened by the founder of Bass Pro Shops in 1988, Camp Long Creek immerses guests in the densely forested landscape of the Ozark Mountains. The rustic-chic glamping accommodations are shaded in oak and dogwood trees near the banks of 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake, about five miles from the main resort.
With its white canvas “walls,” king-sized canopy bed, wood floors, and fenced-in patio with outdoor soaking tub, my glamping tent (one of seven) made me feel like I was on the set of an Eddie Bauer photo shoot. Within minutes of getting settled, a wave of calm swept over me, and I knew I was in for some deep Zzz’s — the kind you can only get from sleeping under a starry sky (with a layer of canvas in between, mind you).
The next morning, I left my hiking boots and hydration pack behind and, with a very un-camp-like green superfood smoothie in hand from the lodge’s cafe, set off in an electric golf cart to explore the 2.5-mile Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail. I motored past waterfalls, caves, and across bridges hand-built by the local Amish community, delighting in the sights and sounds of my surroundings.
Back at “camp” there was plenty to do, like swimming laps in the heated infinity pool and noshing on burgers and wine slushies at the lakeside canteen. Guests also have access to the full range of amenities at Camp Long Creek: five golf courses; five outdoor pools and a lazy river; a dozen restaurants; a natural history museum; a mini golf course; and a spa, salon, and fitness center.
But my morning jaunt had whetted my appetite for adventure. So I hopped in my rental car and hit the road in the direction of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a 10,000-acre expanse that straddles the Missouri-Arkansas border. There, I explored springs, waterfalls, and caves, and even saw a small herd of American bison grazing on a vast pasture.
That night, I joined large groups of families and friends for the nightly sunset ceremony, which culminated with a bagpipe performance and the blasting of a civil war cannon. The tradition harked back to when the land served as hunting grounds for the Osage Indians, then as a logging site for trappers and settlers — a time when nature was an inherent part of daily life, not a place to go and escape daily life. Which makes an off-the-grid escape like Camp Long Creek, where you can pretend that the former is true, even if only for a few days, so appealing.
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