Mystic Lodge: Tipi Glamping in the Hills of Bovina, NY
Coulter Brook Rd | Bovina, NY
It was after dark when my husband and I arrived at Mystic Lodge. We followed a string of illuminated bulbs along the side of a small house and into a large valley at the base of the hills, the moon offering just enough light for us to make our way. We had no idea what to expect from the promise of a tipi stay; we had spent most of the car ride tossing out guesses for what the experience might hold. Upon entering the tipi and lighting some candles, we took in the welcoming feel — an inviting bed stacked with warm blankets, a wood-burning stove, brightly colored throw pillows, and all sorts of eclectic details.
Mystic Lodge is as much an immersive experience as it is a place to lay your head. The 5-acre property in the rural hamlet of Bovina is currently home to two tipis, Blue Jay and Mothership, both of which are set against an incredible backdrop of rolling hills and a wide open sky. This unique glamping destination is run by the equally charismatic Chris Langford and Lisa Candela, a couple who live in a small cottage at the foot of the property. Chris and Lisa’s love of the land and belief in the importance of disconnecting from the outside world is apparent in both their calming demeanor and engaging space. There is no phone service; guests are encouraged to unplug and enjoy the beauty around them. When asked about his experience with visitors, Chris remarks, “You see them arrive, and you meet them and talk with them, and within a short while, you hear laughter and giggling, and you see smiles — it is very special.”
That it is. In the morning, we emerged from our tipi to find yellow, purple, and blue wildflowers bursting from every corner of the property. Winding paths were freshly mowed through the field, allowing us to roam the grounds and gain easy access to the nearby outhouse. There was a small pond and a creek that we could hear from outside the tipi, offering a peaceful soundtrack to our explorations. It was early September, so our visit coincided with the first hints of fall, and little bursts of red leaves peeked out from a sea of green trees covering the hills that rolled in the distance.
- Location: Bovina, NY
2 Tipis with Wood Burning Stoves
Outdoor Fire Pits with Chairs
Hot Tub (Available for an Additional Fee)
7-minute drive into Bovina Center
Easy Access to Nearby Hiking
While Chris and Lisa aren’t Bovina natives, they feel as though they found what they were looking for when they relocated. The decision to start renting their first tipi was a spontaneous one. “We thought, okay, we’ll just try it out, we’ll rent it. We made a simple Airbnb page, took a few photos, and didn’t do anything else other than that,” says Lisa. As luck, or fate, would have it, an article released about a week later listing their site as a must-do for a weekend getaway from New York City. The requests began pouring in and haven’t stopped since.
Chris and Lisa first fell in love with each other — and tipis — while at a wedding in South Dakota. The Lakota tribe had just completed their sundance ceremony on the same site, and the two were taken with the beauty of the indigenous structures. Not long after the wedding, Lisa moved to South Dakota to be with Chris, where they remained for two years. After plans to buy and refurbish a farmhouse fell through, they relocated to Bovina, where they set up their first tipi in the fall of 2015. The original idea was to use it themselves or offer it out to friends. They spent the next year getting a feel for the tent, figuring out how it worked and what items were best suited for the space. When a friend encouraged them to open the tipi up to interested visitors on Airbnb, they didn’t hesitate.
Each tipi is kept warm (and well lit) by a metal wood-burning stove. Chris and Lisa are careful to have a fire going when guests arrive, and are available to assist anyone who needs a hand. At night, the temperature can drop pretty quickly, but between the warmth of the fire and the thick blankets provided in each tipi, it is easy to stay toasty and snug.
Lisa, an artist and photographer who arrived in Bovina by way of Los Angeles and New York City, went to college for interior design and art history. Her passion for creating unique spaces is apparent in the decor of both tipis, where every object is placed with care and intent. She takes time to seek out pieces for each space, mixing her own personal collection with found or gifted items. Her process begins with the naming of the tipi. “Then they kind of develop characters to me, they develop personalities, kind of like a boat,” she says.
Eclectic details like rugs, dreams catchers, and bison skulls come from the couple’s personal collection, brought over from South Dakota and Texas. Lisa says she is very much inspired by hotelier Liz Lambert — the owner of the El Cosmico, an 18-acre campground hotel where you can sleep in vintage trailers, tipis and tents in the middle of Marfa, Texas — and feels a similarity between the ranch life and her life in Bovina.
An outdoor shower attached to the cottage offers a healthy dose of hot water, sweet smelling shampoos and soaps, and views of the mountains. A short walk through the field brought us to a wooden compostable outhouse that is decorated with thoughtful knick knacks and equipped with large windows that frame the valley. At night, we lounged in the wood-fired hot tub, the crisp mountain water illuminated by light bulbs strung overhead, while the intoxicating smell of wood and smoke filled the air.
The beds are incredibly comfortable, and each tipi offers extra warmth in the form of wool blankets from nearby Argyle Farms in Andes, NY. Ponchos are provided for those who wish to wander outside in the crisp night air.
Lighting a fire in the indoor stove quickly warmed the entire space, even with the smoke traveling out into the night through the top flaps. At first it was a little jarring to have an open hole at the top of our weekend home, but we were amazed at how functional the design was, and how organically the space conducted hot and cool air. “That is the super cool thing about the tipi — the more time you spend in it, the more it becomes profound,” says Chris. “That is what really gets me… how cozy it feels… but people check in and they comment about how it is also feels like a nice hotel room.”
Chris and Lisa are hard at work preparing two new tipis this fall, including one that will be nestled into the woods. The two additions are more secluded, offering a chance for guests to really immerse themselves in nature. The couple also recently acquired land down the road from their current space and are preparing for their next endeavors, which include a grand lodge, bar, spa, swimming pond, and possible cabins or rooms for those who would rather sleep indoors. With a background in organic farming and experience as a chef, Chris intends to plant trees and erect greenhouses as part of Mystic Lodge. Their hope is to offer a full service experience that incorporates food grown on their own land.
While it’s worth spending as much time as possible in and around your tipi at Mystic Lodge, the location is close to some of the best places to hike, drink, shop, and eat in Delaware County. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner must-eats: egg sandwiches at Russell’s General Store, wood-fired pizza at Table on Ten; the one flip burger at Brushland Eating House. For a little shopping, make sure to pay a visit to Kabinett & Kammer, Clementine, and Hudson Made, just a few doors down from one another on Main Street in Andes. If you find yourself in Delhi, don’t leave without popping your head into The Stonehouse, a tiny boutique brimming with nearly everything a world traveler could want — from antique knives to hand dyed aprons to plush piles of linens. Outdoor enthusiasts should enjoy looping around 4-mile Bramley Mountain Trail, which offers views of the Catskills high peaks to the south and farmland to the west, majestic cliffs, caves and an abandoned bluestone quarry. For a shorter hike, Mount Utsayantha boasts a climbable fire tower that shows off stunning views of the surrounding mountains, hills, and valleys. An evening drink and hearty local bites should be had at Wayside Cider in Andes, a friendly tap room and gathering place boasting special dinners, guest makers, live music and, of course, some killer dry ciders.
Russell’s General Store, Table on Ten, Brushland Eating House, The Tap Room at Wayside Cider
Kabinett & Kammer, Clementine, Hudson Made, The Stonehouse
Bramley Mountain Trail, Mount Utsayantha, Hobart Book Village