In Need of a Staycation? Check Out This Russian River ‘Glampground’

Visitors to this affordable yet upscale camping site can enjoy easy access to hiking trails, al fresco dining and wine tasting, and other outdoor activities.

The coronavirus has changed all aspects of our lives, including how we travel. Staycations — or vacationing close to home, sometimes literally in your own backyard — have grown in popularity over the past few months, so have outdoor vacations and RVs

Wildhaven Sonoma, a new “glampground” in the heart of Wine Country, combines several of these travel trends. The Russian River flows just steps from its safari-style canvas tents and visitors can enjoy easy access to hiking trails, patio dining, al fresco wine tasting, and other outdoor activities. Alexander Valley wineries, such as Medlock Ames, are just a stone’s throw away. If you’d like to take a break from driving, you may want to consider bringing bikes. (Wildhaven plans to offer bike rentals in the future).

Upon our arrival at Wildhaven Sonoma, my husband and I immediately grabbed our floats and a cooler filled with beverages, and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the river. While the water may be too cold for a dip or float later this fall, you can still enjoy a picnic on the semi-private beach, or go fishing and kayaking. 

An affordable glamping option

With 30 tents, Wildhaven isn’t as luxurious or intimate as other Northern California glamping spots, such as Guerneville’s AutoCamp or Mendocino Grove, but it’s not trying to be. Instead, Wildhaven offers something that the others do not: an affordable, low key, and family-friendly getaway (dogs are welcome, too). Mid-week rates start as low as $109 a night—kids and dogs are $25 extra each—and while cots are available for children, the campsite recently upgraded some of the family tents to double queens, so sleeping bags aren’t necessary. 

If you’re traveling sans kids, don’t let Wildhaven’s family appeal deter you. My husband and I enjoyed a very relaxing evening at the campsite, despite having a group of 20-somethings as our neighbors (in fact, I really enjoyed the people watching). The strictly-enforced quiet hours, starting at 10 p.m., went into effect without incident, just as we were settling in for some truly incredible stargazing. And with the tent zipped up at night, we felt far, far away from any crowds. (For a quieter and more secluded experience, you can book the riverside tents, which come with larger decks, a double hammock and string lights for added ambiance).

All the necessary amenities

Wildhaven’s tents are minimalist yet cozy and outfitted with all of the necessary amenities—outlets for standard plugs and USBs, end tables with bedside lights, a queen bed, rug, fan, mirror, clothing rack, and two chairs on the deck complete with an awning for shade.

There are clean, communal bathrooms and showers (including outdoor showers if you do take a dip in the river) and each site has a picnic table and either a private or communal barbecue for cooking—but remember that downtown Healdsburg is just a few minutes away, offering an array of top-notch outdoor dining and takeout options. If you do decide to cook, an outdoor kitchen is available for cleaning cookware and dishes.

Wildhaven has basic WiFi, but I recommend using this as a good excuse to unplug for a while. 

The campsite will operate throughout the winter months; all tents are heated and the campsite will provide heavy duvets and extra blankets. By November, Wildhaven will open its own store with wine, beer, and picnic provisions like charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, and nuts.

2411 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg,