If you love the great outdoors but not the great discomfort of sleeping in a bag on the ground in a hot tent, think upscale. Glamping — "glamourous" + "camping" — combines luxury and creature comforts into a nature resort vacation. The Highland Lakes is host to a variety of glamping destinations, from fully furnished yurts on the ground to treehouses tucked into a lush, green canopy.
WHERE TO GLAMP
One of the newest upscale camping destinations is NowHere, a secluded 200-acre retreat hidden among the tall trees of Round Mountain at 3486 Old Marble Falls Road. The name is a play on its location: "now here" in the middle of "nowhere," according to the owners. Each cabin is outfitted with a full bathroom, walk-in rain shower, outdoor deck, king-size bed, heating and air conditioning, mini-fridge, closet, full-length mirror, and hairdryer. The one thing that's missing: WiFi. NowHere is for glampers looking to fully connect with nature. Go to hellonowheretx.com or call 830-220-3027
The Retreat at Green Acres is another newcomer, located at 6038 Texas 71 in Spicewood. Choose between an Airstream trailer or a tiny cabin with gorgeous Hill Country backdrops. You’ll be surrounded by onsite shopping and nearby wineries and a distillery just a short drive away. Go to greenacresspicewood.com or call 713-398-7331.
When you stay at The Retreat on the Hill, 4425 Cottonwood Drive in Cottonwood Shores, you can sleep under a transparent globe that opens up to the night sky in the Stardome Suite or choose the Eagle’s Nest Retreat, a tent and patio high above the hills. Other exotic and luxurious options are available, including tipis. It’s the perfect place to hold a wedding or retreat. Go to theretreatonthehill.com or call 512-379-7001.
Perhaps the most upscale glamping can be done at Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park and Resort, 16942 RR 2341 outside of Burnet on the northeastern shore of Lake Buchanan. You won't feel like you're roughing it all at this 940-acre facility near Lake Buchanan. Amenities include a fine-dining experience with views at The Overlook Restaurant and stargazing at the Eagle Eye Observatory. Go to canyonoftheeagles.com or call 512-334-2070 or toll free at 800-977-0081.
Get off the ground in one of the treehouses at Cypress Valley. These aren’t like the one your dad built for you. Think luxury among the leaves. One of them even has a private soaking pool. Cypress Valley is located at 1223 S. Paleface Ranch Road in Spicewood. Go to cypressvalleycanopytours.com or call 512-264-8880.
At Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary and Retreat Center, 1330 Waterway Lane in Burnet, you can relax in a yurt to disconnect and unwind near the shores of Lake Buchanan. You won’t find any clocks or TVs, just peace and quiet. Go to rainbowhearth.com or call 512-756-7878.
Get away from it all at Walden Retreats, located on 96 private acres along the Pedernales River outside of Johnson City. It was named after Henry David Thoreau's novel "Walden," about escaping society to nature. Safari-style tents combine the amenities of a nice hotel with outdoor adventure. Each tent has a private bathroom, a king-size bed, air conditioning, an outdoor deck, and more. Go to waldenretreats.com or call 830-321-0295.
You can also go on a “safari.” Book a night in one of the six cabins at the Exotic Resort Zoo. You’ll be right by the kangaroo exhibit with a wonderful view of the zoo’s center pasture. The Exotic Resort Zoo is located at 235 Zoo Trail just off of U.S. 281 about 4 miles north of Johnson City. Go to zooexotics.com.
And, check out the Lower Colorado River Authority's Camp Creek Park, 1221 CR 343 east of Marble Falls off of RR 1431, which offers six explorer tent rentals, or Shaffer Bend Recreation Area, 706 CR 343A in Marble Falls. Go to lcra.org/parks for details.
Visit the 101 guide for more places to Stay in the Highland Lakes.