“Glamping” (glamorous camping)
By Ellen Miller-Goins
Camping in a lavishly appointed tent dates back at least to the 16th Century. Today, “glamping” can range from 5-star resorts to comfortable but rustic accommodations that are, at the very least, a step up from sleeping on the ground with nothing but a thin wall of nylon between you and the elements.
Glamping, in its modern iteration, wasn’t a thing when Taos resident Doug MacLennan, owner of Southwest Nordic Center, built his first yurt on Neff Mountain in the Cumbres Pass area in 1987. Back then, he was mostly hoping to access typically bounteous powder for epic skiing.
“I had done some skiing to a mountain cabin, and I thought that was great,” MacLennan says, adding he knew of a yurt in Idaho’s backcountry, so “I thought the forest service would go for it because they called it a ‘non-permanent structure.’”
His “non-permanent structure” is still there and MacLennan has since added four more yurts, including the popular 24-foot Bull of the Woods yurt outside Taos Ski Valley. His other yurts, all in the Cumbres Pass area outside Chama, New Mexico, are situated so that yurt-to-yurt backcountry treks are also possible. “That’s become way more popular, ’cause there aren’t many places you can do that.” MacLennan says his business attracts a “great group of people.”
“They always have great spirits. It’s not easy. You have to carry your own pack. It has challenges, but that’s part of the experience, right?” Over the mountain from Bull of the Woods, Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Area also offers yurts – four in winter, five in summer – that are relatively easy to access, as all are situated on a groomed cross country ski trail network, as well as trails just for snowshoeing. Co-owner Geoff Goins has always characterized Enchanted Forest’s trails as “groomed skiing with a backcountry feel” because of the area’s stunning vistas of Wheeler Peak, Gold Hill and the Latir Wilderness.
New this year, Enchanted Forest’s “Glade Yurt” is situated on a small network of dog friendly trails, which means guests can bring their fur babies along.
As with Southwest Nordic Center’s yurts, Enchanted Forest’s yurts are semi-primitive, but comfortable with a wood stove for heat, firewood, kitchen area with some cooking supplies, a propane cook stove, propane lantern and outhouse, plus other amenities. Enchanted Forest also offers a snowmobile-assisted “gear drop-off” for an added fee. With both companies, a winter paradise is definitely a lure, but visitors who just want “glamping” without having to ski or snowshoe, this area is rich with offerings that range from a shipping container to myriad “tiny houses” or cabins, to funky RVs or trailers, to Tipis, like the one in Ranchos de Taos that boasts “solar lights, hot water shower, toilet, fire pit and picnic table.”