Conestoga Ranch: Don't Camp. Glamp.
I once spent an entire summer in my twenties camping out of the back of a Jeep Wrangler with my soon-to-be husband. Our cross country adventure took eight weeks, hit dozens of national parks, and required the kind of stamina that I haven't been able to muster for decades.
Since we had kids, camping has become... COMPLICATED. In the summer of 2015, I made the mistake of attempting ten days in Northern Idaho in campgrounds equipped with pit toilets and no showers. This was the peak of my hubris as a parent. I have learned from my mistakes. Camping is great. For other people. Who like vacations that seem like work.
And then GLAMPING became a thing.
It's tents as big as your house, with running water and electricity, and real furniture that feels like you've been dropped into an old school African safari movie. It's campfires you don't have to build, luggage that magically arrives onsite, and incredible food you don't have to raise a finger to cook.
Conestoga Ranch has made camping comfortable again and I'm officially in love.
The gathering of canvas tents crouches in the foothills above Bear Lake, a location best known for its family atmosphere and rural, backbend of nowhere aesthetic. The lake is a long, gorgeous slice of turquoise water in the distance whose color is dazzling pitted against the muted shades of the surrounding mountains. And everywhere there is a riot of wildflowers and long grasses, whispering softly in the breeze off the lake.
When dusk descends, the ranch lights up with music and campfires. You can stumble into an old-fashioned serenade by the big fire pit or snuggle into your own cozy campsite blaze. The staff keeps each ring stocked with firewood and s'mores supplies and they're on hand when darkness falls to lend a light or tend your fire.
As a foodie, I avoid vacationing in places like Bear Lake, where the choices land somewhere between fast food and traditional, local diner fare. But this, my friends, is where Conestoga really shines. Because they have finally brought real food to Bear Lake, with an attention to detail that embraces fresh, local ingredients. A full wine list and a trendy menu with offerings you typically can't find north of Salt Lake City has made Campfire Grill the star restaurant of the region. Go casual with wood-fired pizzas and craft beer or dig into Chef Vince's incredible wagyu beef and a bottle of Malbec. Either way, you'll walk away satisfied.
My girl's weekend was a dream made in glamping heaven and I came home refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle a busy week. Which was a vast improvement over camping where I return dirty, annoyed, and frustrated at having to tackle a pile of laundry.
I highly recommend kicking up your feet at Conestoga Ranch. Come for the camping, stay for the comfort. It's worth every penny.