Noah Austin

Growing up in Tokyo has a way of making a person yearn for wide-open spaces. At least, that was the case for Jeremy Budge, who spent his formative years in one of the planet’s biggest cities. “I needed to get out into nature and escape all that,” he says. And after working for a company developing “eco-resorts” around the country, Budge had an opportunity to create a place that celebrates his “love of being able to get outside.”

That place is Backland, which opened in September 2022 on a 160-acre Kaibab National Forest inholding about 10 miles southeast of Williams. The parcel was homesteaded in the 1920s and hosted ranching and sheepherding operations over the years. Now, it’s home to a concept that combines an immersive, ecologically conscious experience in nature with many of the comforts you’d find in a luxury hotel.

That starts with the rooms themselves: 10 fully insulated, heated and air-conditioned canvas tents made to quietly withstand high winds and anything else Mother Nature is likely to throw at them. Large windows on one side of each tent offer views of the property’s meadow and the distant San Francisco Peaks. Each tent sleeps at least four via a king bed and a queen sofa bed, while some have additional beds to accommodate up to six. And each has an en suite bathroom with a shower.

What you won’t find in your tent are the ubiquitous TV and Wi-Fi, and that’s by design. “What makes me excited about what we offer is that it’s a time to reset,” Budge says. “Life can be so busy and hectic, and so digital, these days. It’s a time to think about what’s really important to you, connect with people you love and be a part of nature.”

Many guests make those connections while chatting on their tent’s patio or enjoying gourmet meals at Backland’s restaurant, which features a full commercial kitchen and a rotating menu. The trailhead for Sycamore Falls is just a few minutes away, and other nearby attractions include Bill Williams Mountain, Historic Route 66 and the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. And this year, Backland has begun offering horseback rides and other equestrian experiences.

And the wonders don’t end when the lights go out, thanks to a popular upgrade available on some of Backland’s tents: 16-foot skylights that show off Northern Arizona’s pristine night skies. Under the skylights, you can drift off to sleep beneath more stars than you’d see in Phoenix — and significantly more than you’d see in Tokyo.

Business Information

6929 E. Rosilda Springs Road
Near Williams,
United States