In the not too distant past, if you wanted to get close to nature, you needed to pack your camping supplies or hitch up your RV. I just did it without either of these things. How? I went glamping in Ellijay, located in the north Georgia Mountains.
My home base was Elatse’Yi , a Cherokee word meaning “verdant, green earth,” which kept me close to nature without any fuss on my part. After going up mountain on a winding gravel road, I met up Elatse’Yi operator and manager Rebekah Buchanan, who greeted me and showed me to my glamping home for the next few days. As I admired my lodging, an Argentine geodesic dome far from civilization on their six-acre farm, Rebekah told me a little about my temporary home. If you’re unfamiliar with the geodesic dome, it is basically a large tent-shaped hemisphere with triangular supports that are structurally rigid and distribute the weight and stress throughout the structure, making them able to maintain very heavy loads for their size. It is about 30 feet diameter and furnished comfortably. There are three fans to keep it cool in summer and a heater for winter. The fans kept a green parachute billowing over head inside as a dream catcher. It might have gotten a little warm in midday but then I was busy exploring the many attractions in Ellijay.
The dome sits on a fenced, wooden dock. Towards the rear of the dock, there is a private outdoor bathroom, shower and a deep soaking tub. There is also a canopied picnic table and chairs for outdoor dining. Go down a few steps in back and there is a well-stocked cowboy kitchen — it even has a barbecue pit if you want to do some serious cooking. I enjoyed cooking an omelet on my butane stove using the fresh eggs from my neighboring chickens that were conveniently stocked in the small fridge. For other dining options or just camping fun, there is a campfire circle and chairs set back in the yard facing the woods behind the area. The kitchen is even stocked with the makings for s’mores.
Rebekah drove me around to view the other choices for glampers on her farm. There’s the Tree Loft Airstream, a renovated 1969 Airstream with so much more added. The raised front porch is furnished with an outdoor living and dining room; it has a star shade tent with a picnic table, additional seating and a hammock ;and a fire pit that is situated between the airstream and tent. The outdoor bathroom and tub is enclosed with antique looking glass windows. The icing on the cake here is a little tree house loft perched midway up in the trees that surround the site.
The Pavilion Airstream is a 1977 Airstream set deep into the woods with an Oriental feel to it. The airstream is completely renovated and set up on a raised deck that is furnished with a complete living room and dining area. This deck is also how one accesses the outdoor bath and shower, which also features a wooden Japanese soaking tub. Naturally, you have a fire pit to make s’mores and roast hot dogs.
If you want a bit more civilization, you can stay at one of their cabins, which are set deep in a scenic wooded area. Choose from a log cabin on a small lake or a rustic timber frame next to a babbling creek.
That night ,I slept soundly with chickens, goats, and a Great Pyrenees for neighbors before setting out to explore all Ellijay has to offer. Here’s a list of things to see and do while glamping at Elatse’Yi.
Carters Lake: kayaking or other water sports at man-made, 3200-acre lake. There is a visitor’s center with a marina, store, camping and cabin rental, and a seasonal restaurant. Several other water-related spots, such as Doll Mountain Recreation Area, are also on Carters Lake.
Coosawattee River: Coosawattee River Tubing Company offers shuttled tubing trips on the scenic river. If you’re looking for an opportunity to stay on the river, the Villas at Coosewattee is an award-winning resort that offers river-side amenities. The Coosawattee River Association homepage has a wealth of information on Coosewattee River tourism.
Antique shopping: Around the square in Ellijay you will find many shops like Main Street Antiques, Antiques on North Main, and Antiques Outback. Another interesting one is Black Bear in East Ellijay.
Expedition: Bigfoot!: If you love roadside attractions, this is a do-not-miss, whether you are a believer or not. In addition to being a museum full of tons of artifacts and other interesting information that owner David Bakara has collected, Expedition: Bigfoot! is also an active Bigfoot investigative research hub.
Build an Ark Animal Rescue: This is an unusual rescue where you can interact with farm and domestic animals, including goats, baby deer, horses, rabbits, sheep, pigs, kittens and puppies.
Tabor House & Civil War Museum: One of the oldest homes in Gilmer County, the Tabor House also houses a Civil War and Native American museum. This 1870s farmhouse is home to a large Civil War library and rooms staged to take you back to the late 19th Century.
Gilmer Arts Gallery and Playhouse: They are just down the block from one another and support all form of the arts. Visual art, live entertainment and more.
Agri-tourism: R&A Orchards is a third generation orchard open year-round where you can find home-grown apples, peaches, and other produce in the roadside market. There is also a small restaurant that serves homestyle meals and the best peach ice cream ever. Other agri-tourism options include Engelheim Vineyards, Cartecay Vineyards, Fainting Goat Vineyards & Winery, Mountain Valley Farm, and more.