Upscale campground proposed north of Moab
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Jun 13, 2013 | 3607 views | 0 0 comments | 474 474 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Imagine camping in a large canvas tent with wood floor, queen-sized bed, tables and chairs, catered meals and even a bottle of chilled champagne.

That’s not a fantasy, it’s the type of resort a Montana-based company wants to establish seven miles north of Moab.

Moab Under Canvas Campground agent Jeff Pillus of Durango, Colo., spoke before the Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission on May 22 to explain the company’s vision for communing with the desert wilderness.

He compared it to eating sushi, saying, “It’s not for everybody. But there’s a need in this area and I think it’s a pretty good fit.”

Pillus added that, for $300 per person per night, “you get everything.”

The upscale campground, which would feature teepees as well as tents, is proposed for 32 acres owned by Steven and Maurine Tanner. The Grand County Council has already granted a zone change from range and grazing to resort special. Now the company wants a conditional use permit for the site a mile north of the intersection of state Route 313 and U.S. 191.

Planning Commission members had lots of questions about the project. Chairman Mike Duncan wondered how much water the resort would use daily and whether owners would consider using solar energy instead of the generators being proposed.

Grand County Community Development Director Krissie Braun said the application indicates the resort would haul about 800 gallons of water per day from Moab. There would be 87 tents and teepees, she said.

Pillus said the owners haven’t considered solar panels for power, and probably wouldn’t go that direction. The generators they plan to use are “whisper quiet,” he said.

Pillus added the owners are “very environmentally conscious,” and plan to remove tents, teepees and other signs of the campground after the May to October season ends.

“You won’t know they’ve been there,” he said. “That’s their business model.”

The campground would have a traditional septic system with leach field, Pillus said.

The company, based in Bozeman, Mont., currently operates Yellowstone Under Canvas Campground, about 10 miles from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. That campground’s website details the amenities of its safari tents, including luxury models with private shower, sink and flush toilet in an adjacent teepee.

Planning Commission members also were concerned about plans for white canvas tents at the Moab campground. Ryan McCandless said he was worried that visitors in nearby Arches National Park could see the camp “like a white beacon.”

“White is the worst color,” Braun added. “We’re going to address that.”

Mary Hofhine, Grand County community development coordinator, said the county land use code requires earth tone colors.

Pillus said white is the only color available for the tents, which are treated to withstand harsh weather.

Braun said Arches National Park officials are aware of the campground proposal “and are participating in the process.”

The website suggests that guests stay two or three days to see Arches and Canyonlands national parks and other scenic attractions.

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