Dear Mountain Mama:

My in-laws are coming to visit and my wife and I would like to introduce them to the magic of overnight river trips. I’ve been looking into “glamping” options, but I can’t stand the idea of a flat screen tv, guides, or catered meals in the outdoors. I’d like to ease my parents into the backcountry without paying for high-end luxury. Any suggestions?

Thanks, Happy Camper

Dear Happy Camper:

Glamping, short for glamorous camping, allows people to experience the outdoors surrounded by creature comforts. Some say the concept started from safaris that catered to individuals with a lot of money who wanted to experience wildlife viewing while sleeping in beds with 1000-count sheets.

What constitutes glamping differs depending on an individual’s perspective. Anything from a platform tent to a yurt to a treehouse falls under the definition of glamping. But there are less upscale options that include more amenities than camping.

Imagine stopping halfway on a 23-mile canoe trip on an undeveloped river and spending the night in a treehouse. You’d enjoy more amenities than camping. There’d be futons to sleep on and a screened sleeping area that would allow the evening breeze to whisper you asleep. There’d be cooking utensils, an outdoor grill, and a dining deck. The treehouse would be off the grid and the river the only running water. There would be outhouses and oil candles, but nothing more extravagant.tree-house-camping2

Owners Anne and Scott Kennedy built Edisto River Treehouses in the middle of a private wildlife refuge on an undammed river. Located midway between Charleston, Columbia, and Savannah, the treehouses are nestled along the river’s edge and accessible only by canoe.

The meandering blackwater river allows a relaxing trip, the type of outing enjoyed by many generations. The river flows beneath under huge live oaks cloaked with Spanish moss. The current moves paddlers along at 2-4 knots, but basic canoe handling definitely helps with maneuvering around fallen trees. Abundant wildlife grace the shores, including wild turkey, beaver, kingfisher, great blue heron, and egrets.

But don’t take my word for it. Men’s Journal named the treehouses in their “Top 50 Vacation Destinations” and Outside Magazine called it the “Favorite off-the-beaten-path Adventure in South Carolina.”

Enjoy! Mountain Mama