Over the past few years the number and popularity of gay campgrounds has increased greatly. They offer a comfortable, safe environment in which to meet and mingle with fellow LGBTQ+ campers while getting to enjoy the frivolity of the weeks spent at summer camps as children. If you're thinking about visiting a gay camp or bringing along a few friends, take a look at what makes these camps stand out as well as see some of the best options around the world.
Queer Camps for the LGBTQ+ Community
Specialty summer camps have been around for decades, with most people having memories of days spent at space camp or a church retreat or a softball intensive of some kind. Incredibly, the idea of these camps has been modified to fit the LGBTQ+ community; some campgrounds specifically cater to people with these orientations while others have weeks of queer-specific programming. Most of these gay campgrounds are adult camps, and they have an age requirement. Usually individuals must be at least 18 or 21 years of age to become a member or attend the camp. Therefore, these campgrounds require you to present proper ID, such as a driver's license, when you register for a stay. As with most camps, a deposit may also be required to make a reservation.
You might come across a few gay campgrounds and RV parks that are clothing-optional, and some which are even nudist. At a clothing-optional camp, there is no requirement for nudity. It is left entirely up to you and your comfort level of whether to walk around the camp in the nude. In fact, many camp guests don't take advantage of the option, but some enjoy the freedom of breaking away from typical social norms and getting one with nature.
Different Types of Gay Campgrounds
It's important to note that there is a distinction between gay campgrounds which cater only to masculine people and gay campgrounds which are open to all genders. Given that the term gay has historically been used to refer to homosexual men, you will find a lot of campgrounds that are labeled as 'gay' cater to the masculine clientele. However, if you're of the LGBTQ+ persuasion and don't identify as masc and as attracted to men, there are gay campgrounds which service all queer individuals. You just need to be careful when reading their guidelines and requirements that they're a great fit for you!
Some gay campgrounds maintain a private membership, with their activities and facilities only open to their members. Typically, these are exclusively male encampments. You can usually obtain a membership in as little as 24 hours in advance of your arrival at the camp. If you would like to make a reservation at a members-only gay campground, be sure to call ahead to make your reservation.
In addition, a gay-friendly or LGBTQ+-friendly campground mainly caters to a straight, traditional client-base, but also provides a friendly, comfortable environment for LGBTQ+ individuals, couples, and groups. The owners and staff are expected to treat all of their clientele with the proper respect and welcome that they deserve. Keep in mind, however, that you probably won't have the same level of freedom of expression as you would expect to have at an exclusively LGBTQ+ campground.
Searching for Gay Campgrounds
When you're looking for LGBTQ+ campgrounds, there are a few places you can visit as a starting point for your searches. Gay Sejour offers an international look at the various LGBTQ+ friendly camping options available. All of their listings are in Euros, so keep that in mind when it comes to booking. Similarly, Gay Camping USA is a huge resource for gay camping, campgrounds, and RV resorts across the United States. Ranging from New York, to Florida, to Washington, their collection spans the entire East Coast to the West Coast to give you all of the options that're out there in one quick search.
Popular Gay Camps to Visit in the United States
Since there are quite a few LGBTQ+ camps to choose from, it can be overwhelming when you're trying to pick the best one. Check out these different camps and see which fit your vacation needs the best.
Roseland Resort & Campground
According to their website, Roseland is a year-round gay owned and operated resort for gay men who're 21 years and older. Located on over 222 acres in West Virginia, the camp offers hiking trails, rec centers, pools and hot tubs, and a curated nightlife for you and your group to make new friends. They do offer a 15% military discount and special group rates are available. Depending on the number of nights and the specific rooms you choose, your costs can range anywhere between $75 to $170 per night. Nudity is also permitted in all areas of the grounds except for their Walnut Tree Restaurant, so if you want to be free to be your most authentic self, take a look at Roseland Resort & Campground.
Some of the other amenities Roseland offers include:
- Professional massages
- Ice cream shop
- Game room
- Poolside bar
- Two restaurants
- General store
- Steam room
Sawmill Camping Resort
Sawmill touts itself as the premiere gay and lesbian camping community in the southeast located in Dade City, Florida. It has options for single-day visits, RV camping, tent camping, and cabin stays. A premium membership, which anyone over the age of 21 can own, is only $400 and allows you unlimited access to Sawmill throughout the year. With a general store, pool, cigar bar, nightclub, and billiards hall, the queer camping resort truly has it all. Check out some of the other annual events that Sawmill hosts for its guests to see what time of the year you might want to book your stay:
- I Love the 80s Weekend
- Sawmill Music Festival
- Sawmill's Annual Festival of Lights
- New Year Celebration Week
Copper Cactus Ranch Men's Retreat
Copper Cactus Ranch Men's Retreat is another clothing optional retreat that caters to men of all sexualities who're 21 years and older. The facility has both ranch house rooming and camping accommodations for people of all levels of outdoor affinity. Located about an hour outside of Phoenix, Arizona in the Superstition Mountains, you get to experience the best that the colorful and arid landscape that Arizona has to offer.
To visit Copper Cactus Ranch, you must purchase a yearly membership which costs $25, and they offer day and evening passes as well for only $10 a day/night if you don't want to stay overnight. You can even bring your dog so long as they stay on a leash. Some of the amenities that the ranch boasts include:
- BYOB saloon
- 40 acres of hiking trails
- Hot tub
- Corn hole
- Beanbag toss
Oneida Campground & Lodge
Offering entertainment and solace to the LGBTQ+ community since 1980, Oneida Campground & Lodge is one of the oldest queer campgrounds in the United States. Located in the Pennsylvania wilderness, Oneida offers cabins, bunkhouses, and RV sites for all of their visitors to have a safe and comfortable stay. Featuring a pool, club, bathhouse, and customized events, Oneida stands as a testament to the history of gay camping and resort life.
You can visit their website to fill out a reservation form or contact them at 570-465-7011 to check availability. You do have to make a 50% deposit with your reservation to secure your spot.
Proudly Enjoy LGBTQ+ Camping
While gay campgrounds have been around for decades, they've really taken off in the past few years thanks to a growing cultural acceptability of all sexualities and the continued perseverance of the LGBTQ+ community to not only be seen and heard but carve out spaces to proudly be themselves in the world. You might not have even realized that gay campgrounds were an option, so now that you do know about them and the many that're out there, check out a few and see if you might want to take a slight pivot on your summer vacation to visit one of these queer camps.