Roulette Travel Review: Glamping at an Old Zoo Near the Catskill Mountains

Our tent at the Catskill Game Farm's Overlook Site

“Glamping” is a recent phenomenon that has brought together some of the luxuries of a hotel stay, with the natural setting and simplicity of camping. I had only ever experienced this one other time through Fancy Camps at a music festival in Alabama. Although their execution was flawless – complete with a premium hotel style bed, air conditioner and outlets, the setting amongst other festival goers wasn’t the most serene. But that wasn’t the case when staying at the Catskill Game Farm’s Glamping site in Catskill, New York.

Before the new owners, Cathy and Ben, had converted the property into a camping site (and now a charming inn in the previous giraffe enclosure), I had visited the ‘abandoned zoo’ that is the focal point of the property. While it is not truly abandoned per se since the owners monitor it and prevent trespassing, but it feels very much abandoned when you take a self guided tour through some of the crumbling and decaying buildings. Don’t worry though – there aren’t any haunted animals running around the campground – click here to take a watch of our tour through the park and enclosures.

Speaking of the campground, there was a total of four glamping sites to choose from, each with ample privacy and features. We stayed at the Overlook Site, which provides a grassy knoll to gaze out on and watch sunsets. The other options were a wooded site in a forest, a spot known as Fido’s Vineyard (accompanied by an old barn with picnic tables), or the Mountain View site, which faced the escarpment ridge of the Catskill Mountains. Even if all of the other sites are occupied during your stay, you are unlikely to hear or bump into anyone else, as they are quite spread out. Nothing like a busy state park campground on summer weekends, where it can feel like a tent neighborhood rather than a campsite!

Features and Amenities

Thoughtful touches inside of the tent

While the tents were quite comfortable, its not literally a hotel room inside of a tent. For example, you won’t find running water, 110V outlets, air conditioning or a fridge – but cmon, you’re camping! What each site does offer is a perfect balance of some comfort and convenience, with just the right amount of rugged. I glamped with someone who had claimed a general disdain for camping, and she had few complaints after the overnight stay. The bed was very comfortable (not like sleeping on air mattress of the floor in a typical tent), and waking up to the sounds of bugs and a gentle breeze was quite pleasant. The sites all include:

  • Queen sized foam mattress with pillows and comforter
  • Raised wooden deck with chairs
  • Fully-enclosed and waterproof tent
  • Small table inside
  • Large accompanying outdoor space with unique views
  • Firepit with campfire grille
  • Outdoor Camping Toilet and Solar Shower
  • Access to restrooms in the Giraffe House Inn, if needed
  • Access to self guided tours at the abandoned zoo
  • Tent stove for the cooler months

In addition, if you happen to forget anything, you’ll be able to access the camp store with things such as flashlights, batteries, bug spray, etc. for a small fee. There is also a small convenience store and deli located just outside of the camp’s entrance if you don’t feel like cooking over a fire or surviving on pop-tarts and lunchables. You can also purchase s’mores kits from the owners, which have a wide assortment of chocolates in them – s’mores with Reeses and/or Kit-Kats definitely takes it up a notch (as glamping should, amirite?)

Enjoying the morning sun

Something that was missing (or rather could be on a wish list), was a portable power source. We brought our Jackery Explorer with us, which let us run the box fan through most of the night. Had we not stayed on one of the hottest nights of the year, we likely would not have needed the fan anyways. But, it still would be nice to have another charging point (especially if you’re looking to keep your cameras charged for all the great photo opportunities nearby).

Price and Value

At around $135/night with a $40 tentr fee over 2 nights, a 2-night stay for two people comes to around $310. While this isn’t incredibly expensive, it is around the same as you would pay to stay in local BnB’s or Motels, so it really comes down to how much you value the setting and experience of where you stay. They occasionally run special deals, which you can look out for on their instagram page. To check pricing and availability, visit the Old Game Farm’s camping page, which will redirect you to the Tentr page shown below.

What to do Nearby

Kaaterskill Falls, a waterfall system just 15 minutes from the Catskill Game Farm

In addition to touring the abandoned zoo (be sure to check with property owners to let them know when you plan to do so) – there is a lot to do within just a short drive to keep you busy on your weekend adventure. Just ten minutes away there are multiple waterfalls and hiking trails, where you can take a guided hiking and/or photography tour, go cliff jumping in the summer, or ice hiking in the winter before a day skiing at the nearby Hunter Mountain.

You can also venture through historic mountain towns, which feature everything from seasonal festivals, car shows, concerts and more. Even just a scenic drive along NY Routes 32 or 23 near the Catskill Game Farm offer scenic views with lookout points, charming diners and historic general stores.

Book Your Stay

For more information or to book a reservaton, visit http://www.theoldgamefarm.com/camping

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