Tent Revival

An offbeat way to experience the new river.

You can never be accused of lacking imagination if you spend your vacation in a tipi.

“It’s the novelty of it,” says Donnie Turner, whose Bluecat on the New River Outfitters in Draper rents colorful 18-foot tipis to recreationalists looking for a campsite with a little more, well, flair.

Tipis (made by Nomadics Tipi Makers in Oregon, the same company that made tipis for the films Dances with Wolves and The Last Samurai) overlook the New River and come with floors made of river rocks. Turner can outfit them with beds or camp-sized cots, and each tipi site offers a bathhouse, a fire pit and access to more than 1,200 feet of riverfront.

“They’re not very common on the East Coast,” laughs 62-year-old Turner, a Carroll County native and formerly its tourism director, when asked why he added tipis to his company’s slate of offerings (which includes rentals for canoes, bicycles, river tubes and more, plus local specialty guides for everything from fishing to antiquing). Turner, who has been in business for a decade and has shops in Draper and Fries, also rents yurts for “comfort camping.”

Does Turner see the whimsical accommodations as a lure for tourists to the New River? “Well, it’s the oldest river in North America,” he says, pausing a moment to consider the question. “Right now, there are 65-foot cliffs across the river looking back at me, and the water is crystal clear. Usually, I don’t have to try to convince anyone to come here.”

Tipis and yurts sleep up to four, for $45 per night. BluecatsNewRiverOutfitters.com

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