Under Canvas, a glamping resort in Surry, is one of several luxury camping resorts that have sprung up around Acadia National Park in recent years. Photo courtesy of The Maine Monitor

Air conditioning. Private bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilets. A woodstove. A bedroom “wing.” A $600 per night price tag. Could this be… camping?

Not quite. A far cry from the soggy-bottomed tents of youthful adventures, the new camping is far more glamorous (hence, glamping) with resorts springing up all over the state in recent years.

There’s been a particular focus (no surprise) on the towns surrounding Acadia National Park, including in nearby Surry, now home to Under Canvas, and Acadia Wilderness Lodge, in Tremont, Terramor Outdoor Resort in Bar Harbor and a handful of smaller, family-run operations.

A new proposal, set for a public hearing on June 5 in the town of Lamoine, would offer 90 domed units, along with a restaurant, spa, employee housing and “activity domes” from which guests can bird watch and star gaze, nestled among the trees on 230 acres (12 acres would be developed, leaving most of the rest as open space) on Partridge Cove.

The guest domes would be the size of a comfortable New York City apartment, with between 425 and 845 square feet of floor space, and come complete with electricity, air conditioning, fireplaces and private bathrooms.

“Clear Sky Acadia” would be the second project developed by Clear Sky Resorts, an Arizona-based company that owns a 45-dome glampground near the Grand Canyon.


Glampgrounds have generated considerable controversy in Maine, with residents expressing concern about fire safety, wastewater treatment, noise and traffic. They also have created complications for local officials, since the sites could fall into a new regulatory category – not quite a campground, not quite a hotel – for which many communities have yet to develop ordinances. Some are even wondering how to assess the canvas tents for tax purposes.

In Tremont, voters adopted the most stringent campground restrictions in Hancock County, with rules around setbacks, density, and a new definition for “recreational lodging facilities,” after a proposal for a 154-site campground generated considerable controversy, including a court case, a moratorium on campground development and the formation of a citizen’s group opposed to the plans.

Millions of people have been visiting Acadia National Park for years, but until recently, most of that activity was largely concentrated in and around Bar Harbor. Now, tourists are increasingly looking outside the seaside town to the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island and communities across the bridge.

Property owners and developers have begun catering to those who want to explore communities around the park, with short-term rentals springing up in communities across the county. Ellsworth, a half-hour drive from Bar Harbor, has been named one of the top 10 places to invest in an Airbnb or VRBO unit for several years running. Bar Harbor’s recently-enacted short-term rental regulations, which capped the number of allowed units in the town, have also helped push investors into nearby towns without regulations.

Proponents of glamping see it as a way to expand camping beyond the traditional market, including to those who may have mobility issues but want the experience of sleeping outside under the stars.

The National Park Service has been fielding increased calls for accessible campsites, which have stable, level surfaces without roots or rocks and specially-designed fire pits, picnic tables and trash receptacles.


“We saw people looking for unique ways of experiencing the outdoors, and not everyone is interested in traditional camping,” said Kampgrounds of America CEO Toby O’Rourke in an interview with the New York Times. KOA owns Terramor, which opened its flagship luxury camping resort in Bar Harbor in 2020, and has plans to expand around the country.

But the company recently pulled an application for a similar resort in the Catskills after concerns that the project “did not meet criteria across several key benchmarks to warrant moving forward,” according to local news reports. Residents also formed a group, Citizens Against Terramor, to oppose the plans, citing concerns over water supply and wetland impacts.

Frank Donnelly, a Lamoine resident who’s lived in the town for 40 years, said a similar group of concerned residents was taking shape in Lamoine and planned to attend the June 5 meeting. “It’s too big,” said Donnelly. “This area is being overdone.”

This story was originally published by The Maine Monitor, a nonprofit and nonpartisan news organization. To get regular coverage from the Monitor, sign up for a free Monitor newsletter here.

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