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  • Please WAIT! Then SCROLL DOWN for LUXURY CAMPING   [ Are you in this picture? ]
    Luxury camping--those two little
words have given a whole new meaning to getting away from it all. Luxury Camping. Leave home your tent, your sleeping bag, your camp stove and the rest of that hard-to-find camping gear. (Your Fourpeaks Luxury Camping Cabin has everything you'll need.) And don't bother with a trip plan, topos, field guides, and all the rest. (Our Adirondack hiking trails, canoeing routes and swimming spots, too, are all laid out for you with considerable thought.) CLICK & GO!  (On this page.)   "NATURE WITHIN REACH, Luxury Camping."   (A Southwest Airlines SPIRIT Magazine Article).   Luxury Campgrounds (A short list, including Fourpeaks.)   More Adirondack Miscellany Pages.    Guest Notes:  "So close to its natural state . . ."   "I took a shower and loved every step of the process . . ."   "We had a WONDERFUL time this year, notwithstanding the pump situation. "   More interesting pages in An Adirondack Miscellany.   (On the next pages.)   10 Best Visitor Information Pages. (Quick Index.)   4 Star Camping. 4-Star Luxury Camping at our Adirondack Backcountry Cabins.
    Luxury Camping. with Private open space, outdoor grill, picnic table and hammock. Luxury Camping Fireplace at every camp. Flush toilets mean Luxury Camping. Pet-friendly. Free phone use is Luxury Camping. Private hiking/skiing trails with views and no people. Luxury Camping Hot showers. Public trails: View of crowded summit at the end. TV only at the Base Camp!

    SOURCE: July 2004, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT (In-flight Magazine.)
    (Reprinted from July 2004, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT (In-flight Magazine.) NATURE WITHIN REACH
    "Luxury camping" -no longer an oxymoron, those two little
    words have given a whole new meaning to getting away from it all.
    Plush linens, gourmet meals, spa treatments. You call that camping?
    Yes, here's why.
    It never fails. No matter how much planning I do, no matter how detail-oriented I try to be, I always leave something behind when I go on vacation. And from the moment I step out my front door, my brain will not rest until it identifies the missing item. Then, at some point, in the midst of my otherwise pleasant trip, a light will come on in my head exposing that item in exactly the spot where I left it, resulting in a brief wave of frustration and panic.

    Hemingway-inspired safari tent (Exterior view, with bikes)
    Hemingway-inspired safari tent (Interior view, with comfy bed.)
    Ocean views on horseback.

    It was on my second day of camping at El Capitan Canyon, during a lazy, mid-morning horseback ride through the broad, sloping foothills of California's Santa ynez mountains, when I finally had my latest aha moment. I was looking out across the steely coolness of the avocado groves, and over tall, narrow stands of eucalyptus, at where the Pacific rolled green and wild onto the edge of California -when it hit me.


    E1 Capitan Canyon and Ranch
    E1 Capitan Canyon is located 100 miles north of Los Angeles and caters to couples and families. Cedar cabins range from $135 to $305. May-October. Creekside King cabins go for SZ85 a night. In-cabin Canyon massages are $95 for 60 minutes, $135 for 90 minutes. Guided horseback riding starts at $47 per person.
    11560 Calle Real
    Santa Barbara. Caiifornia
    For reservations call (866) 352-2729 or go to

    Bucks on the Brazos
    Rainbow, Texas
    Sleep in a classic safari tent surrounded by century-old pecan trees in this secluded campground on the Brazos River in central Texas. Two-room safrai tents begin at $100 per night.
    For information and reservations call (254) 395-2825 or visit

    New York
    Peaceful seclusion is the top priority at this series of six backcountry cabins hidden deep in a private 700-acre valleyin the High Peaks region of New York's Adirondack Park. Most cabins come with fireplaces, full kitchens and spectacular year-round views. Perfect for hiking, showshoeing or just leaving it all behind. Cabins start at $350 for three-day rental.
    For information and reservations call (518) 524-6726 or visit

    Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Spa
    Pescadero, California
    Costanoa, located near the dramatic seaside cliffs of California's San Mateo County, is surrounded by four state parks with access to over 30,000 acres of trails. Explore hidden beaches and hike throuqh towering redwood forests, or just relax in the on-site spa with Shiatsu massage. Furnished Cypress Tent Bungalows start at $130, Douglas Fir King Cabins from $170.
    For information and reservations call (650)879-1130, tollfree (877) 262-7848 or visit

    Red Mountain Spa
    St. George, Utah
    Stay in a private villa and enjoy the ultimate in spa pampering in the heart of Utah's Red Rock country, one the country's top mountain biking destinations. Red Mountain offers classes in kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor skills. The faclity also boasts top-notch all-natural dining at its very own Canyon Breeze Restaurant. Two-bedroom villas start at $495 per person per night.
    For information and reservations call (800) 407-3002 or visit
    No tent. This was a camping trip and I didn't bring a tent. I could picture it, safe at home, 3,000 miles away in New England, propped against the rear wall of my closet. Of course, I hadn't brought along a sleeping bag, either -that was back home in Boston, too. Camp stove? Negative. Cavernous cooler full of soggy food? Nope. Bug repellent? Uh-uh. Come to think of it, I didn't have any camping equipment at all - just some clothes, a few bottles of cabernet and a book.

    But instead of panic, a warm, sunny sense of calm followed the realization, and I couldn't help myself from thinking that after this trip, I might never touch that tent again.

    Set in a lush grove of sycamore and oak, in a seaside pocket of the California coast 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, El Capitan Canyon and Ranch (pictured) represents the latest trend in outdoor travel: luxury camping. Designed for those of us who want to relax and enjoy nature without being sequestered in a sanitized new-agey spa, these modern campgrounds combine natural solitude with the sort of amenities you might find at a four-star hotel: plush beds, linens, packed picnics and gourmet meals. Others offer spa treatments and dataports. Some, such as Buck's on the Brazos in Rainbow, Texas, even have chef services. It's more expensive than a campground, to be sure, but more and more travelers are willing to pay hotel rates (up to $300 a night in some cases) to get a little comfort and convenience with their fresh air. No more sleeping on damp, hard ground. No more waking up mosquito-bitten. Even if the closest you've ever come to being outdoorsy is wearing a fleece vest, luxury camping puts nature within reach.

    Hemingway-inspired safari tent (Night scene, with campfire.)
    Jacuzzi-equipped cedar cabin (Interior view, with romantic bedroom.)
    Jacuzzi-equipped cedar cabin (Romantic night scene.)

    And, planning a camping trip no longer needs to take on the complex magnitude of an Everest ascent. "Camping can be really intimidating for people who don't have a lot of experience," says Terri Bowman, general manager of El Capitan Canyon. "It takes a lot of coordinating and a lot of gear

    . Then you need a way to transport that gear. Our facility allows people to get an outdoor experience." Recent studies by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) show camping remains the most popular outdoor vacation activity for U.S. adults, with one-third of us having gone on a camping trip in the last five years. But unlike back then, more and more of us are opting for weekend trips rather than longer, more involved vacations.


    While campers may not be spending as much time planning as they used to, many are expecting an increased level of comfort, and camping equipment has changed as a result. "It used to be you brought a lot of basic stuff in a canvas rucksack with a pair of work boots, but that's changing - fast," says Jerry Mallett, president and founder of the Adventure Travel Society, a Colorado-based consulting group and trade association specializing in outdoor travel and eco-tourism. Today, campers can choose from multiroom tents, mini hot water heaters for warm showers, even portable espresso machines.

    And getting away from it all used to mean being out of touch. No more. Campers are toting laptops and to meet the demand Kampground of America (KOA) is currently installing wireless Internet at many of its 50 nationwide facilities. Today, it's not a matter of whether or not you'll be comfortable, it's simply a matter of how much comfort you want to bring with you. But the allure of luxury camping is that travelers can choose to leave the usual camping gear behind.

    "I think people like to travel light, but it's also the ambience," says Mallet. A lot of traditional campgrounds are nothing more than staging areas - combination parking lot/Hoovervilles where families crowd together, share bathroom facilities and recoup before heading off to the next point of interest detailed in stacks of pamphlets; the kind of place where cars and RVs stream out in the morning and straggle back after dark. One of the goals of luxury camping is to shift the focus back to the actual landscape.

    A former campground and RV park, El Capitan Canyon once housed up to 3,500 campers a night. "We used to be a very compact environment, and the canyon suffered because of it," says Bowman. "We set out to make the new El Capitan more eco-friendly and less intrusive on the environment." In 2000, El Capitan Canyon began replacing its hookups and camping areas with Hemingway-inspired safari tents and Jacuzzi-equipped cedar cabins - strictly limiting the number of guests. "Now, instead of being an overflow area for the state beach, we're more of a destination."

    By letting guests leave their tents at home and providing a range of dif- ferent activities, these luxury campgrounds shift attention to their natural settings, which too often become afterthoughts. At El Capitan, visitors can choose from surfing lessons, guided nature walks and sea kayaking. There is access to a wide range of trails throughout the 2,800-acre preserve, and plans are in the works for a ropes course. Bikes are available to cruise the beach trails or make the short trip to Refugio, the next beach up the coast. For travelers interested in exploring the rest of Santa Barbara County, there are guided wine-tasting tours of the local vineyards.

    "Some people are more active and want us to set up kayaking or horseback riding for them," says Bowman. "And other people would just rather sit and read. It's adventure travel if you want adventure travel, or it can be a retreat if you just want to relax."

    Despite the amenities and lush surroundings, El Capitan Canyon still has some of the best aspects of the traditional campground. Children roam easily, unencumbered by parents in most cases, riding bikes, playing games, catching frogs in the creek. For those souls not hearty enough for the ocean, there is a heated swimming pool. For meals, there is the Canyon Market, offering a full menu of sandwiches and salads, not to mention a wide range of regional wines. And while in-cabin massages are currently available, El Capitan Canyon plans for a full spa facility.

    It all comes down to choosing the experience you want. "It's being able to say you had fresh shrimp for dinner or you had ice cream at the bottom of the Grand Canyon," says Mallet. "With luxury camping, we're seeing a merger of adventure travel and the campground industry. People are looking for something different, a nicer opportunity, and the industry is evolving to keep the public interest. It's just an evolutionary step."

    PAUL GOLDSMITH is a frequent Spirit contributor and also writes for the New York Times.

    July 2004, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT (In-flight Magazine.)
    Photos and Text for the above article were Reproduced from the
    July 2004
    Southwest Airlines SPIRIT
    (In-flight Magazine.)
    433 Amon Center Boulevard
    Fort Worth Texas 76155

    Old-fashion hand pump right at camp, located at the kitchen sink or at Well House nearby. Old-fashion outdoor toilet (privy, outhouse) right at camp. 4-Star Wilderness Camping amenities.Parlor stove, Franklin stove, free-standing fireplace/woodstove.4-Star Wilderness Camping 4-Star Wilderness Camping. Enjoy the quiet and beauty of untrammeled Nature in considerable comfort with no equipment and no experience required. View the Graphic Amenities Summary for heating, lighting, kitchens, water supply, screened porch or deck, and more. Get help deciding which Fourpeaks Cabin is right for you.

    #1893 "So close to its natural state that you can imagine yourself as a pioneer just discovering the area."
    Subject: Guestbook Entry
    Date : 8/29/2004
    Name : The Abrigo Family
    Email : queen****
    Location : Staten Island, New York
    Comments : Dear Martin,
    You are a very lucky man. Fourpeaks is a unique place of great beauty
    that's been kept so close to its natural state that you can imagine yourself
    as a pioneer just discovering the area. One way you could determine if
    potential guests would appreciate the experience would be to have them stop
    at Lake George Village first and have a look around there. If they tell you
    they actually like the crowds and commercialism, then tell them to forget
    Fourpeaks. It takes a different mindset to go into the woods and spend the
    day picking up frogs instead of cruising the T-shirt shops in Lake George!

    As much as we loved Fourpeaks, though, we weren't enthusiastic about
    the outdoor privies! Chemical toilets are definitely the way to go (pun,
    ha-ha) and we would immensely appreciate this amenity on a future visit.

    We're contemplating a return visit with some friends to share a bigger
    place than Thoreau House. Ridge Camp was really attractive and I'll bet the
    fall foliage season there would take your breath away! Would you be willing
    to get a couple of chem toilets there for the fall season? Let me know and
    I'll see what's doable on everyone's schedule (possibly around Columbus
    Regards, The Abrigos
    More about this. Keep reading.More about this. (Keep reading.)
    Subject: Thanks very much for your thoughtful Guest Book entry.
    Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2004 16:25:37 -0400 (EDT)
    From: "Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)"
    To: queen***** Hello Frances, Joselito and Valerie!

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful Guest Book entry.

    The comparison with Lake George Village (or for that matter) downtown
    Lake Placid is a good one. There are after all many (the majority of
    vacationers really) who don't value privacy and are even scared to be
    where there aren't A LOT OF PEEEPLE around. Asking them if they like
    LG or LP village is a good way to figure them out. I'll try and
    remember that.

    Quiet (no audible sounds except natural sounds like birds and insects
    and wind in the leaves and such) is really scary for most people. They're
    used to cars and planes and radio and TV and peeeple and even sirens.
    A guest who just came down from Ridge today commented about that. He
    couldn't hear any highway sounds at all or even airplanes. He says
    he's visited lots of "wilderness" or "backcountry" places where city
    sounds and sounds of motors still get in and spoil the quiet.

    Yes. You can have the use of a chemical toilet while at camp. I mentioned
    that in the "Thank you" letter that I sent to you following your visit
    (see copy below). It's part of several new upgrade offers in my "Luxury Camping"
    program. I don't want to be left behind with all the progress that's being
    made to put "NATURE WITHIN REACH" to anyone who wants to take a look at it,
    even for just a weekend. It's not so scary after all.

    You can read something about what is "Luxury camping" and where to find it
    in a magazine article from the Southwest Airlines In-flight magazine
    (Fourpeaks is mentioned). Just click
    Along with that "Luxury camping" page is an (almost finished page)
    "Luxury Camping at our Adirondack Backcountry Camps," including a list
    of new amenities available to Fourpeaks visitors, free phone service,
    running water, flush toilets, hot showers, outdoor screened dining (some with
    small fee) along with the already available complete kitchens, outdoor grills,
    table and hammock, scenic private hiking trails, and pet-friendly accommodations.
    Read about the new stuff at still somewhat
    "under construction" but due to be finished soon.

    Thanks for thinking about coming back. You will have to remind me (my new
    inquiry form will provide for it) that you want the flush toilets for your
    visit. I'd love to have you back. Maybe I'LL MAKE YOU a meal to pay you back for
    your friendly hospitality while you were at Thoreau.

    The calendar shows Ridge is available
    for Sept 11 for 3 nights and Sept 17 for lots of time, but Labor Day weekend
    is already booked. Sorry. Please consider those alternate dates or maybe
    Sugar Camp for Sept 2.

    Hope to see you soon. (20% discount off posted rates apply for a second visit
    this year.)


    #0461 "I loved the quiet. Even hauling water was fun. I took a shower and loved every step of the process . . ."
    Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 13:25:22 -0400
    From: "Al C***"
    Ted and I had a great time, Woody too. I loved Ridge and can't wait to
    return. I think you have a great place. I loved the quiet. Even hauling
    water was fun. I took a shower and loved every step of the process,
    heating the water, filling the little shower pump and was
    hing down. In
    the words of Arnold S. in The Terminator, 'I'll be back'.

    Albert C*****
    15** Broadway 36th floor
    NY, NY 10036
    212 277 **** phone
    212 719 **** fax

    #1532 "We had a WONDERFUL time this year, notwithstanding the pump situation."
    Subject: Re: Your Fourpeaks visit 08/09/04 to Sugar Camp
    Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2004 16:30:03 EDT
    From: Mam***
    Thanks for your note. We had a WONDERFUL time this year, notwithstanding the pump situation. We also couldn't get the
    electric shower to work, although we replaced the batteries. You might want to check that out, too.

    We left a couple of leashes, as you probably figured out, but don't worry
    about it. Keep em or throw em out, whatever. Betty and Rudi have fancy new ones.

    We no doubt will return next summer. I want to use my new kayak a lot, so
    we might do some lake camping as well.

    Take care,
    Carey C****
    More about this. Keep reading.More about this. (Keep reading.)
    Subject: We had a WONDERFUL time this year, notwithstanding the pump situation.
    Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2004 17:15:36 -0400 (EDT)
    From: "Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)" To: Mam****

    Thanks very much for you email about your stay at Sugar Camp.

    I'm glad you had a good time and I hope you'll make it again
    next year. As I mentioned in my [Thank You] note (copy below)
    the hand pumps can be frustrating at times, even with regular maintenance.
    Next year the option of "running water" will be available at
    Sugar Camp and several of the other camps. It's part of my new
    "Luxury Camping" program to put "NATURE WITHIN REACH" to anyone
    who has an interest in it, for a week or just a weekend.

    There's was a magazine article recently about "Luxury Camping," what it is
    and where to get it (Fourpeaks is included) and you can see this at
    now "NATURE WITHIN REACH--'Luxury camping.'" CLICK

    Aside from "running water" there's the new option of flush toilets
    (portable chemical toilets) and outdoor screened dining and more.
    A graphic chart of these additions is on a new page "Luxury
    Camping at our Adirondack Backcountry Camps"
    (still a bit "under construction" but to be finished soon).

    I'm sorry your portable hot shower didn't work for you. (I wish you had
    mentioned it as I have spares.) It turns out the fault is in the switch
    and the manufacturer ( has an upgrade version. I just
    ordered four of them. It's black instead of green. And these will
    be in place shortly instead of the original showers. I'm sorry you missed
    the fun of trying this! "Luxury camping" for certain and really very
    simple to use.

    Thanks again for writing. Hope to see you next year (or even sooner).


    Dear Carey and Mike,
    Re: Your Fourpeaks visit 08/09/04 to Sugar Camp

    Mike--Sorry you had the problem with the hand pump. I
    figured out later that it needs priming (water poured in at
    the top) to insure a good seal. Next year I'll have more to
    offer: gravity water in holding tanks, so no pumping at all.

    . . .

    The Hunter's Shanty in the Adirondacks. Currier and Ives litho, 1861. CLICK HERE for An Adirondack Miscellany.An Adirondack Miscellany   Newspaper and Magazine articles, Books and lots more.  
    Ice storm of the Century Devastates Northcountry.January 1998
    Town of Jay Happy 200th Birthday Party at the 1829 Southmayd Stone House May 1998
    Natives and Outsiders at the Jay Old Covered Bridge. June 1998
    Jane McCrae Murdered by Indians in Ft. Edward NY. July 1777
    Adirondack Great Camps: Adventures in the Wilderness.
    Miss P, the famous www.Internet web purrcat, interviews Tramp, our Fourpeaks barking cocker.  
    Ironman USA comes to Fourpeaks.  
    Chickadees In Winter   
    Flying Critters on your Adirondack Vacation.
    Adirondack Letters: "Hints of Balsam and Pine from our corner of the Adirondacks."
    AuSable River Swimming: Where the Pools Are Never Crowded, And Water Slides Are Nature's Own (New York Times)
    A new novel about Fourpeaks: Moss Krupnick's Daughters of Utopia, 196 pages, $9.98
    For your Adirondack experience--"Stay Awhile In Style!" Plattsburgh-Republican November 2002.
    NATURE WITHIN REACH: Luxury Camping. (July 2004, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT (In-flight Magazine.)
    Annual Jay Yard Sale. (First Sale August 19, 2006.)
    Glamping. (Glamorous Camping.) (Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec 2008, Women's Adventure Magazine.)
    "Imagine a place that preserves the charm of the nineteenth-century back-country dwellings . . ." ADIRONDACK LIFE, 2006 Collectors Issue.

    .Are you in this picture? CLICK HERE to find out. 
    Are you in this picture? Fourpeaks hosts now welcome paying guests to a 700-acre rest and playground for vacations in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition. Couples appreciate Fourpeaks secluded settings. Outdoor loving families have fun exploring our accessible wilderness. Folks with dogs enjoy the open spaces to run their pets. A private nature rereat. For a vacation away from it all.    Are you in this picture?  CLICK HERE to find out!    [More about this at Frequently Asked Questions.]

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