Camping Guide: Glamp It Up

Emma Frankart Henterly
The Box Hop cabin in the Hocking Hills

Do you prefer climate control and plush surfaces to the night breeze and a sleeping bag? We get it. The great outdoors is for everyone, but forgoing modern amenities isn’t. Luckily, options in Ohio abound. These sites offer the best of both worlds: access to Mother Nature, with all the creature comforts of home. They’re ranked from “most like your house” to “most like actual camping.”


Perfect for first-timers, camping in a cabin can be every bit as comfortable as staying home. Options range from “camper cabins”—basic wooden shelters that may have cots or bunks, for those who can’t quite cut it in a tent—to luxe lodging with amenities like air conditioning, king-size beds and hot tubs. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers cabins throughout the state, though proximity (and extraordinary natural beauty) makes the Hocking Hills the destination of choice for many Central Ohioans.

Standard cabins too boring? The Box Hop made waves in Ohio this spring when it debuted, thanks to its ultramodern aesthetic and unique design. Nestled on 18.5 acres in the Hocking Hills, this “cabin” is actually three shipping containers stacked to create one amazing space. Owners Emily and Seth Britt of Columbus built the concept for family getaways, but they also rent it out via Airbnb. It sports three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gas fireplace, a full kitchen, a deck with a hot tub and more.

There’s also the Hocking Hills Caboose, an authentic 1950s rail car that sleeps five. (Kids will love the upper bunk beds in the cupola.) It was converted from a working car to its current state in the late ’90s and renovated in 2016, so no worries about coal dust here. You’ll have central air, a kitchenette and a full bath, plus a deck and gas grill for cooking.

The Little Red treehouse was featured on 'Treehouse Masters' (Photo by Compelling Photo)


Head to Glenmont, Ohio, near Mohican State Park, to sleep among the trees—literally. The seven treehouses at The Mohicans are a step up from the childhood hangout you may remember. Two of them were designed by Pete Nelson, of Discovery Channel’s Treehouse Masters, and one was even featured on the show. Each treehouse sleeps two to six and includes a toilet. Some have a full bath, while others feature a seasonal, secluded outdoor shower. They’re accessed via staircases and bridges, so acrophobes beware. Once inside, you’ll enjoy cozy, tiny house-style environs—each treehouse has its own distinct vibe—plus kitchenettes, sitting/eating areas and private decks. Owner Kevin Mooney says three more treetop accommodations—a treehouse featuring stunning glass walls, plus an Airstream camper and glamping tent lofted on platforms—will be completed in June.

Farther east, near Berlin, Ohio, you’ll find stunning treehouses featuring fine Amish craftsmanship. Built in 2016, the accommodations of Amish Country Lodging soar 30 feet in the air, giving you a birds-eye view of the surrounding woods. With models that accomodate two or six guests, each treehouse includes a two-person Jacuzzi tub, a full kitchen and a wraparound deck. The larger models are multistory wonders of architecture, while the smaller, studio-style versions pack a big punch.

A yurt at The Inn at Cedar Falls (Photo courtesy Explore Hocking Hills)


This circular, wooden-framed structure dates back 3,000 years or more, to Central Asia. Today’s offerings are noticeably more luxurious, however, and they tend to be permanent fixtures as opposed to the easily packable dwellings used by nomadic tribes. You already may be familiar with the concept thanks to The Wilds in Cumberland. The sister property to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium features Nomad Ridge, an adults-only collection of 12 private yurts. They feature bamboo flooring, private decks (with views of roaming animals), screened windows, ceiling fans, private bathrooms and even complimentary Wi-Fi. Some yurts are climate-controlled; portable A/C and heating units are available for those that aren’t. Also included in your rental: an open-air safari tour, dinner and breakfast for two and a 24-hour staff concierge.

Back in the Hocking Hills, yurts at The Inn at Cedar Falls are similarly outfitted: ceiling fans, a gas log stove, a full bathroom, a wood deck, a kitchenette and climate control are found in each one. You can choose between a king-size or two twin beds for your accommodations. The property itself comprises 75 acres and is surrounded by Hocking Hills State Park on three sides. The full-service spa offers everything from facials and massages to cupping, reflexology and mud wraps.


If you think you’re nearly ready to take the tent-camping plunge but want to dip a toe in the waters first, check out The Eco Camp in Northwest Ohio. You’ll be camping in the forest, with an eco-friendly blend of comfort and roughin’ it. Each site includes a carpeted, 16-foot-diameter Lotus Belle tent featuring a queen-size bed, solar lights, a battery pack for electronics, a charcoal grill and more. You’ll be able to stand upright inside the tent, too. There are shared toilets and a shower house, a community fire ring and—if the wilderness isn’t entertainment enough for you—a social hall with pool tables and games.

A little closer to home, in Granville, you’ll find Orchard House Boutique Inn. The main house is your typical bed and breakfast, but out back you’ll find a charming little bell tent. Inside, there are modern comforts such as hardwood floors, windows to the surrounding woods, indoor and outdoor sitting areas, a queen bed and electrical outlets. A secluded, outdoor, passive solar shower provides a unique opportunity to commune with nature. There’s also a private half-bath in the main house. Hot breakfast is included of course, and you can add on a massage, an evening bonfire and more.


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These three Ohio music festivals bring the jams to the campground. Even better: The farthest one is only an hour from Columbus.—Brittany Moseley

Nelsonville Music Festival (June 6–9)

3301 Hocking Parkway, Nelsonville

The popular four-day festival celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. More than 50 artists will perform, including Death Cab For Cutie, Mavis Staples and Tyler Childers. Individual weekend camping passes are $40 for primitive camping and $75 for nonelectric motorhomes. Those looking for more glamorous digs can reserve a two-person luxury tent for $750. Tickets for the festival are $55–$90 for a day pass, $100–$125 for VIP and $165–$350 for weekend passes. Weekend passes will increase by $5 every two weeks until the festival.

Bellwether Fest (Aug. 9–10)

10542 OH-73, Waynesville

Beach House, Cake, Cold War Kids and Guided by Voices headline this 2-year-old indie rock fest. Basic camping is $44 for four people or $64 for six. RV camping for six is $234 or $334 with electric. Glamping for four is $624. Tickets to the festival are $99 for a two-day GA pass and $239 for a two-day VIP pass. Single-day tickets are $59. Don’t forget your Freshen Up pass. For $44 you get a towel and access to a lounge with showers. Passes for camping and the festival will increase as Bellwether draws nearer.

Country Jam and Campout (Aug. 16–17)

7585 Kindle Road, Thornville

Billed as “Ohio’s largest country music event,” this fest features performances by Jason Aldean, Old Dominion, Randy Houser and more. Hosted by local country station 92.3 WCOL, the festival takes place at the 230-acre Legend Valley in Licking County. Passes for primitive or RV camping range from $99.50 to $599.50 for four people. All campers must purchase weekend festival admission passes, which start at $84.99 for general admission and $154.99 for reserved seats. Don’t forget parking and shower passes ($40 and $10, respectively).

Tents and Tunes