“Glamping” is the latest camping fad, and local real estate developer Doug Brock has taken it to tree-top heights in Western North Carolina with a camping deck.
His deck, 18 feet in the air and surrounded by wilderness and wildlife, gives backpackers, tent campers and luxury travelers an alternative to motels and inns that many find expensive. at 3,100 feet, Brock’s deck between Black Mountain and Chimney Rock is listed on AirBnB.
Brock took a local friend, retired home inspector Bill Altork, to visit the camping deck recently.
“As soon as Doug turned the car engine off, there was a great silence waiting to be taken in,” Altork said. “The open view of mountains both distant and near, along with the deep silence, gave me a humble sense of inner peace and pure, simple pleasure. I think we tend to forget how precious natural beauty combined with utter silence can be.”
The camping deck is well-built, Altork said, and has a high roof over part of it. Sturdy safety rails and a swinging gate keep everyone inside. A reflection of Brock’s love for nature, it’s called “Above the Fray.”
The camping deck offers long-range views of the surrounding mountain. Measuring 16 by 24 feet, it gives campers a sheltered place from which to view nature, without having to rough it. It’s large enough to hold three tents. Amenities include electricity, lights, easy chairs, an airbed, picnic table, a clean toilet, dog gate - and extreme quietness. Dogs can be off leash on the deck, but, for their own safety, cannot run free in the woods.
All garbage must be taken with the campers when they leave since there is no garbage pickup and because the deck is in prime black bear territory. No fires are allowed because the 34 heavily wooded acres on which the deck sits lack city water. The terrain makes firefighting nearly impossible
“Over 100 acres burned 50 years ago, and locals still remember it,” Brock said. Campers can have a propane cooker, an electronic stove and an electric griddle. Outlets allow them to charge electronic devices. Garbage bags and cleaning supplies are provided.
“The camping deck is what our friends call ‘spoiled camping,’ and we admit to it,” Brock said. “I tell people don’t expect room service. It isn’t a room. It’s a humongous deck with amazing mountain views.”
Guests should bring such items as pillows and sleeping bags.
“Although it is a good camping spot, guests need to dress and prepare for all types of weather,” Brock said. “The immediate neighborhood is like a national forest. It is quiet woodlands with deer, bear, raccoons, skunks and a lot of other animals. If the animals cause apprehension, then the camping deck will probably not be a good choice.”
Brock has been a resident of Black Mountain for the past 32 years, and with wife Marcia has reared two daughters who he said have “flown the nest.”
He lives on a small farm where he and his wife raise llamas, horses, retired chickens, dogs, ancient cats and rainbow trout (wild fox and coyote occasionally pass through). Marcia Brock is a practicing veterinarian, and her husband has been involved with small real estate developments for most of his career. He built the camping platform for his own use last summer, and after a few months of enjoying it and allowing his friends to do the same he decided to offer the camping deck luxury to the public.
Guests, using it from a couple of nights to a week, have liked being close enough to Black Mountain and Asheville to enjoy shopping and dining out. Brock emphasized that the camping deck is not a party space “and never will be.”
Brock offered the camping deck to the public in September and has been surprised at how busy it’s been - even in February, when some young campers reserved and used it.
“You are never going to get rich with a camping deck, since it rents for $40 a night,” he said. “You are going to be able to provide an unusual camping experience for those who love the outdoors,” he said. “We’ve even had a couple of small weddings on the camping deck.”
He’ll be starting his second deck soon, he said. For more, visit airbnb.com or call him at 777-6746.