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See Yosemite’s high-country wilderness without having to lug a heavy pack full of gear. Accessible only by foot or saddle, Yosemite’s High Sierra Camps are prime real estate and can be reserved only through the park’s lottery system. In other words, plan very far ahead. You’ll shack up in dorm-style canvas tent cabins with real beds, and meals are served family-style in cozy dining tents. Stay toasty by firing up the in-cabin wood-burning stoves.
Yosemite High Sierra Camp, from $161 a night (includes lodging, dinner and breakfast)
These insanely popular wood cabins on Mount Tamalpais date back to the 1940s. You’ve got to be up for roughing it, though--there’s no electricity or running water, and you’ll have to use primitive (read: pit instead of flush) toilets nearby. But the expansive ocean views are worth it. Get your clicking fingers ready; once the sites become available to book (six months in advance), they fill up in minutes.
Steep Ravine Cabins, from $75 a night
Trinity County is known for breathtaking mountain wilderness, crystal-clear alpine lakes and dense forests. This luxury riverfront yurt features bamboo flooring, a claw-foot tub and an electric fireplace and even has air conditioning for steamy summer nights. Try your hand at white-water rafting and hit up nearby Gold Rush-era towns.
Trinity River Yurt, from $184 a night
Nestled deep in the woods in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Monterey, this is a tree house in the most literal sense--real trees are growing right through the living room and bathroom! Take a dip in the hot tub (on the ground at the base of the tree) before cuddling up with Grey, the house cat, and watching a flick from the extensive movie collection.
Watsonville Tree house, from $125 a night
The adventure is in getting to this Swiss chalet-style cabin in the woods near Truckee in Tahoe. There are no paved roads, so guests must strap on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes to make the four-mile trek during the winter. Bring a good book (no cell service or Wi-Fi here) and settle in to the idea of unplugging for a weekend.
Lost Trail Lodge, from $79 a night per person or $1,180 for the entire lodge
Cushy hotel amenities (queen-sized beds, luxury linens, locally sourced art) meet simple cottage living at this Sonoma Coast retreat minutes away from Sea Ranch. Adirondack rockers on each cabin?s front porch are perfect for sipping your morning coffee. And there?s even an old-fashioned general store on site.
Stewarts Point Cottages, from $155 a night
Located near Petaluma’s charming main drag, this vintage Airstream is perfectly positioned as a jumping-off point for wine-tasting tours in Napa and Sonoma. For a fun mini staycation, shack up in the kitschy, retro-themed quarters with a Palm Springs vibe.
Petaluma Trailer Rental, from $119 a night
If you’re intent on a truly unique experience and don’t mind shelling out the big bucks, Shelter Co. will plan a glamorous getaway for you. Specify location (in Northern or Southern California), type of trip, head count, budget and overall vision, and they’ll do the rest. Think bearskin rugs, Pendleton blankets, leather lounge chairs and catered meals. Fancy.
Shelter Co. Camping Adventures, call for a custom quote
Ah, camping. Sometimes we’re up for rugged (sleeping on the ground and going without electricity), but other times we want the creature comforts we’ve grown accustomed to at home (hello, air conditioning and queen-sized bed).
Check out our slideshow of creative, nature-filled living quarters in Northern California that mix the beauty of the great outdoors with varying degrees of “roughing it.”
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