Don’t you just love camping? The fresh air; the clear, starry sky; the tranquility one experiences miles away from the daily distractions of modern city life . . .
It is, however, called roughing it for a reason. Hauling supplies, erecting tents, and sleeping on the cold, hard ground isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a vacation. Mosquitoes. Monsoons. The whole bathroom situation. Perhaps most burdensome is the packing, prepping, and storing of food. Bread gets wet, cheese goes dry, meat becomes questionable. Certainly, cooking a good meal in the great outdoors is a laborious exercise met with the undesirable reward of washing dishes at a campsite.
Fortunately, there is an alternative for those of us who love communing with nature but still want plenty of creature comforts. KitFox is a luxurious glamping experience with a permanent flagship location in the Galisteo Basin Preserve, about twenty minutes south of Santa Fe. Situated on 160 acres of high desert with unabated 360-degree views, the campsite hosts eleven spacious canvas tents equipped with cozy king-, queen-, or twin-size beds, and features such amenities as lanterns, phone chargers, and sheepskin throws. Communal bathroom facilities, firepits, stylish outdoor seating, a yoga deck, and a large “lodge” tent with coffee, games, and a lounge area also gives the site an upscale, adult summer camp vibe. “People are so busy with work, kids, we wanted to create a space where people can come relax and enjoy the outdoors but not have to do all of the work,” says Brandon Gregoire, cofounder of KitFox with partner Jennifer Kolker.
Officially launched in the spring of 2021, KitFox was an instant hit with tourists and locals who’d been cooped up indoors during the pandemic. It has also become a popular destination for foodies, because of its Dine in the Wild culinary experiences. During these special overnight events, campers receive hors d’oeuvres and mocktails (you can also BYOB), followed by a multicourse al fresco dinner, homemade s’mores around the campfire, and an elegant breakfast.
The food is prepared by local catering / bespoke pop-up dinner outfit Dig & Serve. (Gregoire and Kolker also own Dig & Serve.) Their culinary team is known for inventive plating and using ingredients that are seasonal, sustainable, and sourced from local farmers and ranchers. Past “farm to field” dishes at KitFox have included campfire-roasted turnips, spring onions, carrots, and bok choy served in a cast-iron skillet; grilled whole trout with Israeli couscous; and Silver Leaf Farms cress and butter leaf salad with freshly baked focaccia. Menus can also be catered around guests’ dietary restrictions. On occasion, they also bring in guest chefs, such as Nathan Mayes (Paloma, Santa Fe) and David Gaspar de Alba (Oni, Albuquerque). Last fall, Gaspar de Alba treated campers to a special rendition of his much-loved ramen, which consisted of duck prepared five ways, Vida Verde Farm delicata squash and green onion, Exotic Edibles oyster mushrooms, and a local egg—diners were even able to take their custom Whiskey & Clay ceramic ramen bowls home.
But, as anyone who has attended Dig & Serve’s immersive pop-up dinners at venues like Meow Wolf and Seton Castle can attest, they are just as invested in the overall dining experience as the cuisine. “We want to serve a meal as good as any [upscale] restaurant, but in a really unique setting,” says Gregoire. “The peacefulness of the desert, the natural light, and the smell of sagebrush and campfire all add to the experience [at KitFox]. The sunsets out there are the best part.” While cooking outdoors in the elements can be challenging at times, he says, one of Gregoire’s favorite memories, so far, came courtesy of a spectacular summer storm. “We were hosting the [now annual] Wild Women summer camp retreat and we could see these dark monsoon clouds moving [far in the distance], from west to east. Everyone ate dinner while watching the most incredible lightning display.”
In the morning, guests can meander into the dining area at their leisure and sip on Iconik coffee or tea.o.graphy tea, while gazing out on thousands of acres of enchanting desert grasslands dotted with juniper and piñon trees. Breakfast offerings are hearty and healthy, with options like avocado toast using all-local focaccia, arugula, watermelon radish, purple daikon, and edible flowers, with a side of salad, roasted potatoes, and an egg. Post-meal, campers may want to partake in the site’s thirty miles’ worth of hiking and biking trails or visit the “general store,” which features a curated selection of chic goods created by local artisans.
Unlike a typical camping foray, by the end of a stay at KitFox, glampers will likely leave satisfied instead of hungry, and well rested instead of tired with a backache.
KitFox regularly gets booked out for private events such as weddings, reunions, and retreats, so the Dine in the Wild nights can be rare and snagging a ticket is competitive. So far this season, they have six of these events scheduled, including one evening featuring Chef Mayes. Join their mailing list and follow KitFox and Dig & Serve on Instagram so you can be the first to know about tickets for these and additional events, such as their upcoming High Desert Vibes microconcert and dinner.
Candolin Cook is a historian, writer, editor, and former co-editor of edible New Mexico. She recently received her doctorate in history from the University of New Mexico and is working on her first book.