New "glamping" resort to open at Bear Lake

GARDEN CITY – Camping provides a way to get outdoors, escape the stresses and complexities of life and reconnect with nature, but it often involves giving up luxuries like a soft bed or a hot shower.

A new resort near Bear Lake is changing that.

Conestoga Ranch is an 18-acre resort overlooking Bear Lake with a goal of providing a style of camping that is both easy and comfortable. Instead of bringing tents and sleeping bags, those who come will have the opportunity to stay in multi-room tents with hot showers, toilets, beds and a mini-fridge.

According to Conestoga Ranch partner Tom Hedges, two of the five individuals involved with starting the resort live at the lake, but he and the remaining two had never visited it until last year.

“We were blown away by the beauty of the lake,” he said.

Hedges said after his visit he decided he wanted to give both locals and visitors another option for high-quality dining and lodging. Now the envisioned resort is less than two months away from the July 1st target opening date and Hedges said construction is ahead of schedule.

The style of camping is known as “glamping.” The word comes from combining “glamour” and “camping.” Resorts dedicated to it are starting to pop up across the country and those behind Conestoga Ranch want it to be the first in the state.

“Being able to sit out, do s’mores and look at the stars then also sit down indoors in a big wall tent and crawl into a nice, warm, comfortable bed is appealing,” Hedges said.

In addition to tents, visitors to the resort can also opt to stay in a Conestoga wagon. The wagons, which will also be equipped with beds, will be mobile to allow for customizable campsites for large groups.

“That’s really why we’re calling it Conestoga Ranch, is because of the Conestoga wagons,” Hedges said.

The “glamorous camping” options extend beyond just lodging, dining is involved as well. Traditional camping food such as s’mores and hot dogs will be available, but the restaurant located on the resort will include more. Steak, salad and wood-fired pizza will all be on the menu. Hedges said the restaurant will be open to the public as well as resort guests, and that anyone dining is welcome to attend the weekend entertainment of musical shows, cowboy poetry and Saturday night rodeos.

There is already noticeable anticipation and excitement for the resort’s opening season. Hedges said reservations opened two weeks ago and the resort is already 50 percent booked.

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