Glamping: Camping can be glamorous

OKEECHOBEE — After enjoying a great day in the Florida sunshine, and a delicious meal cooked on the grill, it’s time to savor the camaraderie around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Then you just look up to count the stars.

The Cabins at O.K. Corral are themed on Old West mining towns. The exterior looks rustic, but inside, guests find luxurious comfort.

The Cabins at O.K. Corral are themed on Old West mining towns. The exterior looks rustic, but inside, guests find luxurious comfort.

But when it’s time to turn in for the night, instead of crawling into a sleeping bag and worrying if a mosquito is in that tent with you, you head to the comfort of climate-controlled luxury. What appears to be a rustic cabin on the outside, instead houses all of the modern conveniences of air-conditioning, a hot shower, wide-screen high definition television, wi-fi as well as a luxuriously comfortable bed.

You aren’t camping — you’re “glamping!”

Glamping, a trend that is gaining popularity all over the world, offers all of the fun of camping with none of the headaches. Whether in a cabin, yurt, airstream, igloo, villa, teepee or tree house, glamping allows you to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing comfort.

Glamping means you can go “off the beaten path,” but still check your email when you want to.

Recent Florida Department of State Tourism and Recreation Department studies have found an increasing interest in camping and ecotourism, but not everyone who enjoys the outdoors wants to “rough it.”

“If you like nature but prefer to end your day in high thread count sheets instead of a sleeping bag, then ‘glamping,’ a.k.a. glamorous camping, is for you,” states the state’s VisitFlorida website.

“Glamping provides all the creature comforts of home in the midst of the great outdoors. It’s a great fit for families: Kids gets a healthy dose of nature and adventure, yet amenities like a hot shower, a delicious meal and even a fireplace are just a stone’s throw away for mom and dad.”

South Florida has long been a tourist destination, and the popularity of “glamping” is already catching on in the Big Lake area.

O.K. Corral Cabins
The Old West meets Southern Hospitality at the Cabins at OK Corral, 9449 N.E. 48th St. The 350 acres of rolling South Florida farmland that are home to the OK Corral Gun Club and the Cabins ensures that each guest enjoys their stay in a private and uncrowded surrounding.

Sprawled throughout a rustic mining town, The Cabins at the OK Corral Gun Club take guests back in time to the Old West. Inside the rustic cabins, guests strike it rich with luxurious rooms that boast all the modern amenities.

Twelve guest cabins offer 24 charming, comfortable rooms that reflect a rustic elegance well in character with the OK Corral Gun Club’s natural surroundings.

Twelve guest cabins offer 24 charming, comfortable rooms that reflect a rustic elegance well in character with the OK Corral Gun Club’s natural surroundings.

Twelve guest cabins offering 24 charming, comfortable rooms that reflect a rustic elegance well in character with the OK Corral Gun Club’s natural surroundings. Each cabin is exquisitely furnished and includes a luxury bathroom, two queen size beds or one king size bed, refrigerator, microwave, HDTV and free Wi-Fi. The cabins come with a complimentary continental breakfast.

While wandering down Allen Street at the cabins, guests can reminisce about the panhandling days of the Old West and mining town history. A stop at the Post Office and General Store, guests will find provisions, sundries, gifts and refreshments, as well as a game room and two fireplaces.

Guests at The Cabins can take advantage of packages that include shooting sports and gourmet feasts.

The General Store at OK Corral Gun Club offers provisions and food.

The General Store at OK Corral Gun Club offers provisions and food.

For more information, contact Lora Bieri, Cabin Concierge at 863-801-6749 or lbieri@okcorralgunclub.com.

Sundance Trails
Camping and “glamping” are also in the future for the property used for the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival. In March 2015, the Okeechobee County Commission approved a zoning change for Sundance Trails, LLC to planned development for a proposed eco resort on the 848-acre sight also known as Sunshine Grove in the northeast area of the county known as Dark Hammock. Plans include traditional and non-traditional, cabins, cottages, and possibly tree houses. Some of the dwelling units would be designed for rentals. Activities on the site that are planned include hiking, biking, canoeing, tent camping, and nature watching. Other plans include an RV Park.

Quail Creek Plantation, 12399 N.E. 224th St., Okeechobee, boasts a natural landscape where gnarled cypress rise up from virgin swamps and the uplands are carpeted with lush native grasses. Visitors can enjoy this natural setting without giving up comfort. Quail Creek has 10 cozy fully-equipped one bedroom cottages and 8 private suites. The cottages are equipped with wireless internet, flat- screened televisions, full bathrooms, and small kitchens with full-sized refrigerators and microwave ovens. For information, call 863-763-2529 or visit them online at http://quailcreekplantation.com.

South Florida popular for camping

For those who enjoy nature, South Florida offers a wide variety of camping opportunities, from primitive camping to modern “glamping.”

CAMPGROUNDS

Torry Island Campground & Marina, in western Palm Beach County near Belle Glade on the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee, offers funfilled camping and outdoor adventures on Lake Okeechobee’s 640-acre “Island Jewel” which is rich with wildlife and historical treasures. Torry Island Campground & Marina is located 45 miles west of the Palm Beaches and the Atlantic Ocean off of Highway 441, 80 miles north of Miami and 90 miles east of Ft. Myers and the Gulf of Mexico via U.S. 27. Call 561-996-6322 or book your campsite online or go online to www.torryisland.com.

Fisheating Creek Campground is part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area, Glades County, Fla. The campground is on U.S. 27, approximately 16 miles northwest of Moore Haven. Fisheating Creek has RV camp sites, tent camp sites and a few pop-up camper sites. For information, go online to www.fisheatingcreekoutpost.com or call 863-675-5999.

DuPuis Management Area, 23500 Southwest Kanner Hwy., Canal Point, under the operation of the South Florida Water Management District, is a 21,875-acre, multi-use natural area located in northwestern Palm Beach and southwestern Martin counties. Restrooms are available, but there are no electrical hookups and no potable water. A group campground is available by reservation and requires a special permit available at www.sfwmd.gov/recreation. For more information, call 561-924-5310.

STATE PARKS

The Big Lake area is within easy driving distance of Florida State Parks with a variety of camping choices.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, 33104 NW 192nd Ave. Okeechobee, has RV camping, tent camping and equestrian camping.

Surrounded by 54,000 acres of prairie, campers at the Kilpatrick Hammock Campground can experience real Florida wilderness with access to modern conveniences. Water and electricity are provided at all 35 camp sites along with a spacious accessible restroom with showers and laundry. A water-filling and dump station is centrally located for campers. Trails are located near the campground to allow for exploration into the preserve. The park’s remoteness makes Kissimmee Prairie an ideal location for star gazing.

Kilpatrick Hammock Campground offers Equestrian Camping with 50 amp electrical service and water at each site. One paddock is provided for each campsite. Water is provided in the southwestern-most paddocks and a central community water source is located near the kiosk at the entry to this camp loop. A composting toilet is provided in this camp loop for campers’ convenience. Equestrian campers also have access to the bathhouse in the family camp loop.

The Preserve offers three wilderness primitive campsites located 2.5 miles from the office. Since these sites can only be reached by hiking or biking, please check in at the office two hours before sunset. Sites have a picnic table and a fire ring. Everything must be backpacked in, including water, and packed out.

For more information, call 863-462-5360.

Highlands Hammock State Park, 5931 Hammock Road, Sebring, family campground offers water and electric hookups, a dump station, access to restrooms with shower facilities, laundry and dishwashing areas, and free Wi-Fi. Campsites have picnic tables and fire rings. Sites vary from being open and sunny to partially or fully shaded and range in length from 20 to 50 feet.

Maximum RV length is 50 ft.

Three paved campsites, designated as American Disability Act sites, are near an ADA-accessible restroom. A maximum of eight people with two tents are allowed per site. RV sites are allowed to have the RV and one tent. A recreation hall with a full kitchen, stage, large seating area, restrooms, BBQ grill, and playground may be rented for family reunions, parties, rallies, and other events.  Well-behaved pets are welcome in the campground. The campground is a short walk from the State of Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and picnic area. Playgrounds, bike trail, and nature trails are also available. Ranger-guided programs and social activities during the busy winter season provide additional activities for campers to enjoy.

Primitive camping sites in the open pine flatlands have fire rings and picnic tables, but no electricity or running water. Book campground reservations online at www.reserveamerica.com or call 1-800-326-3521.

An equestrian camping at the new horse camp located at the park’s South Property will be opened at a future date. Equestrian trails are available for those who own horses.

Florida State Park, Dunns Creek.

Florida State Park, Dunns Creek.

Johnathan Dickinson State Park, 16450 S.E. Federal Highway in Hobe Sound, has cabins, tent camping, RV camping, and equestrian camping. Jonathan Dickinson’s 12 cabins are located near the Loxahatchee River. All cabins are furnished and have one bedroom with a queen or full-size bed, one bathroom, living area, dining area and kitchen area. Maximum occupancy is 4-6 people depending upon the cabin. Cabins are supplied with bed and bath linens. All cabins have outside picnic tables as well as fire rings for outdoor cooking. Pets are not allowed.

Two family campgrounds are located at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Pine Grove Campground, with 90 sites, is located near the Ranger Station on the east side of the park. The River Campground, with 45 sites, is about four miles from the park entrance, near the Loxahatchee River. Both campgrounds have large, tiled restrooms with hot showers. All sites include water, electricity, table and grill; sewer hookup is included on all Pine Grove campsites, as well.

A dump station is located in each campground. Well behaved pets are welcome in both campgrounds.

The park offers a guided canoe/kayak tour every Friday at 9:45 a.m. (weather permitting); fun, family education programs every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.; and ranger led programs on Saturday evenings. Rental canoes, kayaks, motorboats, and tour boat are available from the park concession.

Maximum RV length is 81 ft.

A five-site, campground is available for those wishing to camp with their horses. Horses must be tethered overnight to the tieout posts provided, or confined in sturdy portable pens. Portable electric fencing or hobbling is not permitted. Eight miles of multi-use trails start at the EaglesView area, available for horseback riding, hiking and off-road bicycling.

Primitive camping is available on segments of the Florida Trail, Maps of the Trail are available at the Ranger Station. One camp is five miles out along the trail, and the other is nine miles out. A pitcher pump is located near each camp. Water must be treated. Pets are not permitted on this trail and/or at these camps. Collection of firewood is not permitted in Florida State Parks; be sure to pack a stove for cooking. Overnight trips to these camps must begin by certain specified times of the day; reservations are not required, but are suggested. Call the Ranger Station at 772-546-2771 for information and reservations.

More information on these and other State Parks can be found online at www.floridastateparks.org.

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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