Glamping can also be referred to as Luxury Style Camping. As each High Sierra Camp listed here provides different levels of luxury, how do you decide which one is right for a first time Glamper? One way is too base your choice on your past experiences in the mountains. As simple as that sounds, first time Glampers often overlook this important point. Luxury style camping can obviously be expensive but despite the high cost, it alone doesn’t guarantee you that you’ll be impressed with the amenities.
To help index the high cost vs. the actual featured luxuries, we have independently rated the 7 High Sierra Camps between 3 and 5 stars. Find them on our Compare Camps page. You can also come up with your own rating based on our detailed descriptions of each camp. To start, Identify your background below to point yourself in the right direction.
HOTEL If you have only stayed at hotels but are interested in staying in the wilderness environment, then Glamping style High Sierra Camps will need to be rated 5 stars to impress you. A positive Glamping experience is the best introduction to wilderness camping for first campers.
CAR CAMPER Camping with your car means you take food and camping supplies with you and pull your vehicle directly into a campground. You then set up your tent and kitchen next to your car in the space provided. With that experience you already know you have limited amenities but you’re familiar with not sleeping at a hotel. Therefore, Glamping style High Sierra Camps might impress you even if rated at 4 stars.
BACKPACKER When you are an experienced backpacker, you have carried your food, tent and all your supplies on your back for several days and many miles. Glamping style High Sierra Camps rated at 3 stars will seem like luxury in comparison. We often find ex-backpackers who can no longer shoulder heavy loads and welcome the option to try Glamping.
WHAT AMENITIES MAKE A LUXARY CAMP?
A true 5 star Glamping experience can be very similar to a hotel stay in the city, albeit with a few exceptions. There is always some level of dirt, after all you staying in the wilderness. Not to mention that you will be required to walk in and depending on the camp, it could be as short as 1 mile or as long as 11 miles. Lastly, you will be staying in a large tent instead of a building. Then there are the amenities and the section below focuses on those aspects. When preparing to make your ideal Glamping choice, consider the following.
ROOMS The tent which in this case will be your room, is important in terms of our luxury rating. All camps have sturdy canvas sided tents that are plenty tall enough to stand in. They are all mounted on concrete foundations. Some camps provide private spaces while other require you to share your tent with 2 or even 4 other campers. Our rating system downgrades camps which require you to share your tent.
BEDS Liens, blankets and the actual bed itself vary widely. For a 5 star experience, we would expect a queen sized hotel-like plush mattress as opposed to an single sized Army-style cot mounted to a creaky metal frame. Sadly, there is only 1 camp that provides fine liens and push mattresses. Backpackers point out that they are used to sleeping on a thin piece of foam, directly on the ground. To those from that background, an Army cot does seem like luxury. To the rest of us, we are looking for the larger, plush bed. Camps with single cots are not rated as high.
TOILETS When it comes to conveniences, most take toilets for granted and assume they are found everywhere. Not so in the wilderness! You might be surprised to learn that flushing toilets are only found in a few camps. The rest have the composting kind. And as you might expect, composting toilets will smell and look very different at the business end. Composting is environmentally friendly for locations with extremely fragile Alpine soils as opposed to constructing leech fields and septic tanks. For a Glamping experience, we down grade the luxury rating for camps that do not have flushing toilets.
SHOWERS Most camps (but not all) provide hot showers as you might expect in a luxury setting. However, due to their remote locations some camps have a limited water supply which forces them to put their showers on a timer. In addition to reducing the length of your shower, you might find that occasionally you are at the end of the hot water supply as well. Therefore, if showers do not have unlimited hot water, we down grade their luxury star rating.
FINE FOOD As with any fine hotel you would expect gourmet food. And Glamping certainly requires fine food. For camps which only employs seasonally hired cooks instead of gourmet chefs, that limitation is noted. Not that all camps don’t provide you with enough to feel full and their cuisine isn’t tasty. But gourmet prepared food is quite different from basic menus. We grade camps higher with Chefs on duty.
COCKTAILS Alcohol is an accepted adult beverage usually enjoyed just before or after a fine meal. All camps permit alcohol to be brought in but few offer it on the menu for an additional change. We indicate when alcohol is available and consider it to be part of a required luxury rating.
ELECTRICTY Assume you will have no options to charge phones or even receive a Wi-Fi signal for internet connections. Only one camp has its own power generator for you to charge devices which also has emergency internet access if needed. Basically, no camps have electrical connections in the rooms.
VISTAS & VIEWS That is one of the main reasons you’re going right? Experiencing High Sierra Sunsets and Sunrises across spectacular mountain peaks will be part of your luxury environment. Just as you would appreciate the finely appointed lobby and glass elevator at a 5 start hotel, here you will see the entire Sierra unfolding around you. For those camps perched at outstanding locations with picture post card views, we award extra stars.
ACTIVITIES & DAY HIKES Leisure activities are also an important part of the Glamping experience. If you have extra days at any one of the camps, you’ll want to explore the area. Some camps are located at extra special locations that the opportunities to take short hikes to nearby lakes, overlooks and mountain passes are impressive. Other locations might have world class fishing possibilities. These extra special locations are given higher star ratings.
THE HIKE-IN Lastly, let's not overlook the impact of the hike-in on your luxury experience. First time Glampers can view the length of the hike in as either a rewarding challenge or a necessary evil. That’s why this one area is so important to consider. If you are out-of-shape and overweight, that alone need not dissuade you from Glamping to a High Sierra Camp. But it should restrict you to 1 mile or under. For those an excellent physical shape, a 5 or even 11 mile hike-in may be possible but will you enjoy it? You may be surprised to learn that for some, that very long 11 mile day would be fun! Only you can decide if the total numbers of miles is something that will not detract from your dream Glamping experience. Just be realistic and know your limitations.
The final distance to the camp can sometimes be shortened when on a Yosemite Loop trip and coming from another camp. But because the lottery system makes it hard to get multi-day reservations, you may find it necessary to hike in from the nearest road. That’s one of the reasons our hike-in mileage profiles always show distance and elevations gains from the nearest road. You will find them at the bottom of each page profiling that particular camp.
If you are lucky enough to do advance planning and place in the Yosemite High Sierra Camp lottery, you have the option of riding a horse in. Called a “Saddle Ride” option, it’s a case of “Pick Your Poison.” Because unless you are used to riding in a saddle, the pain at the end of the day can make you wish you walked in!