Get out and about: 9 LGBTQ-friendly campsites
No doubt about it: COVID-19 has put a stop to travel. Unless you go off the beaten track. Or rather, “out”.
Camping has several built-in perks that make quarantines a moot point. Tent or cabin, motorhome or caravan, the relative distance between installation sites facilitates social distancing. Judicious timing in pavilions, showers and latrines keeps potential viral spread rates to a minimum. Compared to Saint-Tropez, the campsite is less expensive, easy to access and has everything to “communicate with nature”. Many queer destinations have LGBTQ-owned, LGBTQ-friendly, or LGBTQ-populated campsites on their outskirts. Here are nine of our favorites:
Campit Outdoor Resort
Not far from the Midwestern gay mecca of Saugatuck, Fennville is smack in the middle of Michigan’s wine country, which makes Campit all the more appealing during a viral apocalypse. LGBTQ at heart, the resort’s 28 cabins, nine-bedroom dorms, 100 RV sites, and five tenting areas span 33 acres. Rounding out the amenities are a clubhouse, game room, games room, heated pool, volleyball, horseshoe pits, and nature trails.
Several LGBTQ campgrounds are in the idyllic Hudson Valley region, making them equidistant from the Big Apple and Beantown:
Kate’s lazy meadow
Mont Tremper, NY
Pierson and Coleman transformed an old motel into a glampy, campy, MTV-meets-mid-century modern phantasmagoria straight out of a B-52 video. Divided into “suites” that sleep two to four people, guests can enjoy the swing vibe while social distancing and taking in views of the Catskills, Esopus Creek and other outdoor perks spread across eight acres . If you want something a little more private, head to Kate’s Lazy Cabin in Lake Hill, NY.
Beginning as a retreat for gay men during the dark early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Easton Mountain remains a haven where men can “grow and heal, play and pray, dream big dreams and plan to make the world a better place” . All about fostering brotherhood and community, founder John Stasio has created a safe space that’s as much about getting outdoors as it is about getting in touch with your spiritual side.
Katie’s lazy desert
Kate’s lazy desert
“Staying here is an otherworldly, out-of-body experience,” says Kate Pierson of The B-52’s. She, along with her partner Monica Coleman, run this five-acre glamping retreat in the heart of the Mojave Desert. “You’re surrounded by sand and stars and there’s no other place on earth like it. Come get the aliens and if you come back without being probed, you won’t get your money’s worth!”
Ok, not the most conventional selling point – no judgment – but the Mojave’s open vastness seems to be swelling right now. Local artists have restored six vintage Airstreams to create a retro paradise under the stars.
Flamingo Heights, California
Also in the Mojave (and owned by Pierson), Starland Community is an adult-only campground and the most rustic on this list. Presiding on a desert bluff surrounded by mountains and canyons, the ten-acre site offers cabins and RV parking for guests, as well as plenty of Mother Nature. A favorite of hikers and Burning Man fans, visitors should bring food and water, but since the camp is de facto clothing optional, you’ll have more space to pack.
“We offer simple living; you can see the stars at night with or without a telescope,” says Beams Director Mohabee Serrano, who adds that Starland is excellent for out-of-status people requiring quarantine (10-14 days) before to explore the rest. from California.
Located in the artsy neighborhood of Guerneville (about an hour north of San Francisco), the Highlands Resort dates back to the 1920s. A “hetero-friendly” campground, owner Lynette McClean ticks off several highlights — redwoods, Pacific Coast Highway, Sonoma Wine Country – as well as the undeclared competition among visitors for the most fabulous campsite on the three-acre lot.
“Customers decorate their campsites and tents,” she says. “They bring huge tents with several rooms and a veranda. Even if it’s only for one person!” says McLean, adding, “It’s a magical place. A short walk from town, surrounded by redwoods, but with lots of sun and light.”
“With COVID-19, we’ve seen a marked increase in our activity,” says Jim Schwab, owner of Grizzly Pines, “We’re an outdoor place; a lot of guys think it’s a safe environment to visit.”
Grizzly offers bunkhouses, RV sites, tent sites, wagons and cabins spanning 15 clothing-optional acres in the Texas countryside (just over an hour’s drive from Houston) . Accommodation ranges from $125 a night to just $25 (the last one is a dorm), and Schwab manages to maintain a low-key schedule of events as coronavirus permits, from August’s “Trailer Trash Weekend” at the Drive-In Movie Night.
LGBT Rainbow Ranch Campground
About 95 miles south of Dallas, Rainbow Ranch won the Dallas Voice – Readers Voice Award for Best Weekend Getaway in the Past Four Years. Located in the small town of Groesbeck, on the verdant shore of Limestone Lake, Rainbow Ranch spoils its guests with accommodation choices including a house, apartments, cabins, tent sites and RV sites. tastefully spread across the Texas woods.
Vitambi Springs Resort & Camp
Vitambi guests can upgrade and stay at the on-site hostel, or embrace their inner adventurer and pitch a tent on the 269 acres of this campground just south of Lake Okeechobee and 100 miles from Miami. Aware that Florida is now a COVID hotspot, managing member Steve McCloud has canceled group events and is enforcing social distancing and masks while remaining open, playing to the strength of the campground as a retreat.
“What’s amazing is that this approach works. A lot of people really want a sanctuary from everything that’s going on in their world,” he says. “Vitambi Springs has always been a safe place to have fun, enjoy nature and people you will always want to call a friend.”
David Perry is a freelance travel and current affairs journalist. In addition to EDGE, his work has appeared on ChinaTopix, Thrillist, and in Next Magazine and Steele Luxury Travel among others. Follow him on Twitter at @GhastEald.