Get Out and Be Out: 9 LGBTQ-Friendly Camping Sites

by David Perry

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday August 22, 2020

Get Out and Be Out: 9 LGBTQ-Friendly Camping Sites
  (Source:Getty Images)

No doubt about it: COVID-19 has put the kibosh on travel. Unless you think outside the box. Or rather, "outside."

Camping has several inbuilt pluses that make quarantines a moot point. Tent or cabin, RV or trailer, the relative distance between set-up sites makes quick work of social distancing. Judicious timing at lodges, showers, and latrines keeps potential viral spread rates at a minimum. Compared to St. Tropez, camping is cheaper, easy to get to, and has the whole "communing with Nature" thing. Several queer destinations have on their peripheries campsites that are LGBTQ-owned, LGBTQ-friendly, or LGBTQ-populated. Here are nine of our favorites:

Midwest
Campit Outdoor Resort
Fennville, MI
Not far from the Midwest gay mecca of Saugatuck, Fennville is smack in the middle of Michigan wine country, making Campit all the more appealing during a viral apocalypse. LGBTQ to the core, the resort's 28 cabins, nine-room bunkhouses, 100 RV lots, and five tent areas lounge over 33 acres. Rounding out the amenities are a clubhouse, rec hall, game room, heated pool, volleyball, horseshoes, and nature trails.

Northeast
Several LGBTQ campgrounds are in the idyllic Hudson Valley region, making them equidistant from both the Big Apple and Beantown:

Kate's Lazy Meadow
Mt. Tremper, NY
Pierson and Coleman jazzed up an old motel into a glampy, campy, MTV-meets-mid-century modern phantasmagoria straight out of a B-52s video. Divvied into "suites" that can accommodate two to four people, guests can enjoy the swingin' vibes while social distancing and taking in views of the Catskills, Esopus Creek, and other outdoorsy plusses spread over eight acres. If you want something a little more private, check out Kate's Lazy Cabin in Lake Hill, NY.

Easton Mountain
Greenwich, NY
Beginning as gay men's retreat during the dark early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Easton Mountain remains a refuge where men can "grow and heal, play and pray, dream big dreams and while schemes to make the world a better place." All about fostering brotherhood and community, founder John Stasio created a safe space that is as much about getting outdoors as getting in touch with your spiritual side.

Katie's Lazy Desert  

Southern California
Kate's Lazy Desert
Landers, CA
"Staying here is an otherworldly, out-of-body experience," says Kate Pierson of The B-52's. She, along with her partner Monica Coleman, runs this five-acre glamping retreat deep in the Mojave Desert. "You are surrounded by sand and stars and there is no other place on earth like it. Come for the aliens and if you return without being probed, you haven't gotten your money's worth!"

Ok, not the most conventional selling point — no judgment — but the open vastness of the Mojave sounds swell right about now. Local artists restored six vintage Airstreams to create a retro paradise under the stars.

Starland Community
Flamingo Heights, CA
Also in the Mojave (and owned by Pierson), the 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, plus plenty of Mother Nature. A favorite of hikers and Burning Man fans, visitors must bring their food and water, but as the camp is de facto clothing-optional, you'll have more space to pack.

"We offer a simple life; one can view the stars at night with or without a telescope," beams director Mohabee Serrano, who adds the Starland is excellent for out-of-staters needing quarantine (10 — 14 days) before exploring the rest of California.

Highlands Resort  

Northern California
Highlands Resort
Guerneville, CA
Located in artsy Guerneville (about an hour north of San Francisco), the Highlands Resort dates back to the 1920s. A "straight-friendly" campground, owner Lynette McClean ticks off several highlights — redwoods, the Pacific Coast Highway, Sonoma Wine Country — as well as the undeclared competition between visitors for the most fabulous campsite on the three-acre grounds.

"Guests decorate their campsites and tents," she says. "They bring huge tents with several rooms and a lanai. Even if only for one person!" says McLean, adding, "It is a magical place. A short walk to town, surrounded by redwood trees, yet getting lots of sunshine and light."

Texas
Grizzly Pines
Navasota, TX
"With COVID-19, we saw a marked increase in our business," says Jim Schwab, owner of Grizzly Pines, "We are an outdoor venue; many guys feel it is a safe environment to visit."

Grizzly offers bunkhouses, RV lots, tent sites, wagons, and cabins sprawling across 15 clothing-optional acres in the Texas countryside (a little more than an hour's drive from Houston). Accommodations range from $125 a night to just $25 (that last one is a bunkhouse), and Schwab manages to keep a low-key schedule of events going insofar as coronavirus allows, from the August "Trailer Trash Weekend" to Drive-In Movie Night.

Rainbow Ranch LGBT Campground
Groesbeck, TX
About 95 miles south of Dallas, the Rainbow Ranch has won the Dallas Voice — Readers Voice Award for Best Weekend Getaway for the last four years. Located in the small town of Groesbeck by the leafy shore of Lake Limestone, Rainbow Ranch spoils guests with accommodation choices, including a house, apartments, cabins, tent sites, and RV lots tastefully sprawled across the Texas woods.

Florida
Vitambi Springs Resort & Camp
Clewiston, FL
Vitambi guests can go upscale and stay at the on-site Inn, 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 nixed group events and mandates social distancing and masks while remaining open, playing up the campground's strength as a retreat.

"The amazing thing is this approach is working. Many people really want a sanctuary from whatever is going on in their world," he says. "Vitambi Springs has always been a safe place to have fun, enjoy nature and people you'll forever want to call a friend."

David Perry is a freelance travel and news 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.

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