October 29th, 2020
Ooh, I have a treat for you today! I don’t often write about a (sing it with me) hotel, motel, Holiday Inn … but this outpost near the Grand Canyon is one of the most memorable stays we’ve enjoyed in a long time. Under Canvas is one of 2020’s rare success stories — a company whose unique vision has unexpectedly met the requirements of the current state of the world.
Glamping is always cool, but the tents at Under Canvas are next level — more than socially distant, open to the outdoors and full of eco-friendly features. Lighting is solar and battery powered (with additional USB ports), faucets flow by pushing a lever, showers flow by pulling a chain, single-use plastics have been mostly eliminated and all other disposables (at the coffee/tea bar and take-out restaurant) are made of recyclable or compostable materials. Tents also have small fireplaces for heating up on chilly nights.
All that being said, these are not luxury accommodations. All food must be stored on front decks so critters aren’t attracted inside the tents. There is no television, no WiFi and no air conditioning, and there are no electric sockets in the tents for charging camera batteries or running things like hair dryers. Just unplug and get on with your time here.
Under Canvas has nine properties around the U.S. We stayed at the Grand Canyon location for three nights. It’s conveniently located about 30 miles from the park entrance in the small town of Valle, Arizona. It’s a short distance away from the town and main highway, which preserves the night sky and quiet atmosphere of the property.
The check-in desks, lounge, coffee/tea bar (always open) and take-out restaurant are located in a large tented structure at the entrance. This opens to a communal outdoor area with tables, chairs, heat lamps, firepits and corn hole platforms. There are also semi-private areas with picnic table seating where groups can barbecue together on gas grills.
Accommodations include tents with private interior bathrooms, tents with exterior shared bathroom facilities, larger tents for families and tents with clear stargazer windows above the main beds. It’s not cheap to stay at Under Canvas but we felt the peace of mind provided at a time like this was invaluable. We slept well (bed was super comfortable), felt safe and will definitely return to stay at Under Canvas again someday.
For me, the only drawback was wanting to soak in a long, hot shower after our Rim to River to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon. It just wasn’t possible in our shower with a pull chain but I’ll gladly sacrifice my need for short-term comfort in exchange for long-term consideration of the environment. We all have a choice about where we spend our money. After seeing a number of businesses on our road trip with no regard for the health and well-being of their customers, I’m happy to reward the businesses that are working much harder to protect not only their guests but the world they’ve set out to explore. Under Canvas gets an enthusiastic thumbs up on all accounts.
Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.