Lodgings that commune in some way with nature are more popular than ever, post-pandemic. The 2023 North American Camping and Outdoor Hospitality Report found that a record 58 million American and Canadian households camped or “glamped” in 2022. That same year, the National Park Service saw more than 13 million overnight stays in its campgrounds, cabins, and lodges.
Travelers reserve up to a year in advance to stay overnight at the top of a 65-foot-tall fire tower amid the purple mountains and wooded expanses of West Virginia’s Seneca State Forest. It’s a 69-step climb to the refurbished 1930s structure, which was built to accommodate rangers who scanned the surrounding Greenbrier Valley for forest fires.
Today, the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower hosts up to four people a night during warmer months. This is far from glamping: you’ll snooze on a cot, and the bathrooms are down the stairs at a nearby ranger station. But guests can luxuriate in 365-degree views of sunrise and sunset from wraparound windows.