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At Home Adventure: The Great Outdoors

Indulge in a mini escape close to nature at Timberline Glamping inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound. Photo courtesy by Elizabeth Palace
Indulge in a mini escape close to nature at Timberline Glamping inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound. Photo by Elizabeth Palace

For most of human history, people have been divided into two camps: those who like to camp and those who don’t. However, with the advent of portable modern conveniences, a new genre of roughing it geared toward the latter group has emerged: glamping.

Officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, “glamping” is defined as “a form of camping that involves accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.” Typically, the act of glamping requires the glampers to bring their own luxe trappings. But now, curious glampers-to-be can enjoy the experience sans preparation and packing thanks to Timberline Glamping inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound.

The husband-and-wife team of Amanda Kyle and Zachary Graeve debuted the concept in November 2023. They met at the University of Colorado in Boulder and relocated to the Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter area 18 years ago. They’ve been camping across Florida ever since, from primitive tent camping to the campgrounds at Walt Disney World. They stayed at a Timberline Glamping camp in Hillsborough River State Park (located northwest of Tampa) and felt that the model would work well inside Jonathan Dickinson, which, at more than 10,000 acres, is the largest state park in Southeast Florida.

Timberline includes six glamping sites, each inclusive of a canvas safari tent with various combinations of queen, king, and bunk beds. All are fully furnished and equipped with an air-conditioning unit (that doubles as a heater during the winter) as well as a mini fridge, a Keurig coffeemaker, an essential oil diffuser, and electrical outlets. Each site has its own hammocks, fire pit, charcoal grill, Adirondack chairs, and picnic table. Fun add-ons include s’mores kits and outdoor games like cornhole, giant Jenga, and Connect Four. One thing you won’t find in your tents is a bathroom; instead, glampers have access to shared restrooms and showers. There is also no WiFi, but part of the beauty of this staycation is the act of disconnecting from the outside world. 

Indulge in a mini escape close to nature at Timberline Glamping inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound 2. Photo courtesy by Elizabeth Palace
Photo by Elizabeth Palace

The Graeves estimate that about a quarter of their visitors—many of whom are local to the region—have never been camping before. They report that the tents have been popular among families and that the sites foster a strong community feel, with kids riding bikes around the area or playing on the nearby playground while their parents grill or hang in a hammock. It’s a vibe that the Graeves (who recently joined the board of directors for the Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park) believe is a great complement to the park’s natural setting and ecological mission.

Opened to the public in 1950, Jonathan Dickinson State Park boasts some of Southeast Florida’s most significant and diverse natural communities. Its five major communities are wet prairie, wet flatwoods, tidal swamp, floodplain swamp, and coastal sand pine scrub, which accounts for 20 percent of the park’s acreage and is so rare that it is classified as globally imperiled. It is within the scrub that visitors are most likely to spot the Florida scrub-jay, an endemic Florida bird that lives nowhere else in the world.

Indulge in a mini escape close to nature at Timberline Glamping inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound 2. Photo courtesy by Elizabeth Palace
Photo by Elizabeth Palace

To round out your glamping experience, head to the Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center, where you can learn more about the park’s activities and animal inhabitants. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore; other popular activities include canoeing or kayaking on the Loxahatchee River, freshwater and saltwater fishing, and touring the circa-1930s camp of Trapper Nelson, which, while fascinating, is a far cry from glamping. 

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