Glamping in Montana with Dreamcatchers Tipi Hotel lets you soak up nature in Big Sky Country, but with all the luxuries of a fine resort.
The alabaster tipis tucked into the rustic mountainside appeared to be a simple campground. However, my husband and I soon discovered that could not have been further from the truth. Looking at the website for Dreamcatchers Tipi Hotel and the image of illuminated tipis against the Montana night sky was certainly intriguing. I envisioned sleeping on bedrolls and hardly being able to walk in the mornings, but the website promised “luxury” accommodations. In addition, the tipis were located only six miles from the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park, a place we desired to explore. So reservations were made in May for our stay to go glamping in Montana in August.
Then the unthinkable happened, the horrific flood in Yellowstone hit in June. News agencies reported the devastation that no roads remained open. We thought of canceling our trip, but Dreamcatchers Tipi Hotel’s staff assured us they were accessible. Glamping in Montana was still on.
The Tipi Campgrounds
Our first sight was the sixteen tipis that sat perched at the base of a small mountain range. Our host walked us around the grounds pointing out the bathhouses, the tent for breakfast service, various sitting areas, and the fire pit for nightly s’mores. From the outside, our tipi looked like a normal tipi—conical in shape, supported by wooden poles, and canvas stretched over the frame. But as our host opened the flap, bent down, and led us inside, we encountered surprising luxury. A king bed, antique rugs, luxury linens, two comfortable chairs, and soft lighting created a cultured tone—certainly not the tipis of our Native American ancestors.
Big Blue Skies
After unloading our luggage inside the tipi, we wandered outside to one of the many sitting areas to enjoy the late afternoon Montana sunshine with friends who had joined us on the trip. As we took deep breaths, the fresh air was exhilarating. We gazed at the expansive, indescribably clear blue sky above us. Now I understand why some paint colors are simply called “Montana blue.” This, indeed, was Big Sky Country.
Nightly Beverages and S’mores
Each night at 8:00 pm, the large fire pit in the middle of the camp was lit. All the campers gathered around the fire to enjoy the “adult beverages” and other drinks. However, the main draw was the s’mores. Children and, yes, some adults quickly grabbed the individually wrapped makings. Their faces reflected the amber glow of the fire as each participant eagerly awaited that perfect crust on the sugary treat. While the children filled their bellies with enough s’mores to make their parents wonder about sleep that night, we conversed with the other campers.
We met people from many different states and even a family from France, everyone was excited about the experience of glamping in Montana. As we discussed ideas of places to go, roads to take, and favorite activities, most of us stayed up well beyond the sunset, savoring the new camaraderie, night air, and fire’s glow.
Midnight Treks and Brisk Mornings
The first night we crawled into the amazingly comfortable bed reveling in the quiet of the night. The clear night air soon turned chilly. We snuggled deeper under warm blankets and turned on the small heaters inside our tipi. There is the matter of the middle of the night bathroom call for some of us at a certain age. The building housing eight upscale bathrooms was located on the far side of the campground—away from us. But no matter. I’ve camped before. A short walk in the middle of the night would be an opportunity to view the stars and moon above, right? So off I went with my small lantern. Later I overheard a store clerk talking about a bear sighting only a mile from us. The funny thing is I managed to avoid the midnight potty run every night for the remainder of our stay.
After a great night’s sleep—thanks to the cool, clean mountain air—we strolled over to the community tent for breakfast. Breakfast each morning was light. Options included yogurt, oatmeal that could be microwaved, granola bars, juice, fruit, and, most important, coffee. The air was still cold, but the Montana staff claimed it was a “dry” cold. We thought we would enjoy our hot coffee in front of the small fire pit outside our tipi. Within a few minutes, we retreated back inside. It was too cold for this girl, regardless of its “dryness.”
Our Major Mistake
There was one major mistake we made on this trip. Due to the flooding and damage at the North entrance to the park, the only way to get in was with a guide. Unfortunately, we had not arranged it ahead of time, and we found that they were all booked. As a result, we could get no further than the Roosevelt Arch. We were disappointed but determined to return in the future.
Rafting the Yellowstone River
We opted to go whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River. Many outfitters offered these excursions a few miles away in Gardiner, Montana, and we quickly scored a reservation. Our guide, Sawyer, was perfect. Our raft held mostly inexperienced riders ages six to 73. Sawyer made it enjoyable and exciting for each one of us. We took on the whitewater areas with as much of our newly acquired skill as we could muster, and the six-year-old squealed with delight over each big wave. Our guide stopped in the calm waters a few times, and those brave enough to get in the frigid waters jumped in for a quick swim.
When Glamping in Montana, You May Have Afternoon Visitors
The campground does have the occasional animal visitor. We were thrilled at the sight of an elk that wandered into the camp. She seemed fond of the green grass the staff was attempting to grow on the grounds. She stayed into the early night, moving around the camp. As we retired, we laughed at the sound of her munching just outside of our tipi.
The Devil’s Slide
Directly across from the campground was a mountain with an unusual bacon-looking stripe down the side. Locals call it the “devil’s slide.” Lore has it that when the devil was cast from heaven, he slid down the mountain and into the Yellowstone River. I’m sure there is a geological explanation for this rock formation, but I like the local’s spin.
Many activities are available while glamping at the Dreamcatcher Tipi Hotel. There are numerous places within a few miles to hike and ride horses, and hot springs are very close. Gardiner is the nearest town and offers various choices for restaurants and shopping. If you want to visit Yellowstone National Park, plan ahead and call to verify if you still need a guide to enter the North Entrance. Otherwise, you may have to drive quite a distance to the West Entrance.
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Hopes of Returning
Glamping in Montana under the big sky at Dreamcatcher Tipi Hotel is a trip we will not forget. We hope to return soon, possibly with our grandchildren, who would love it. We want to explore more in this great state, and I already miss sleeping in the cool Montana night air. Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning a glamping trip to Montana, Wyoming, elsewhere in the United States, or abroad.