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A Glamping Getaway at Ridgeback Lodge in New Brunswick

How to soak in your surroundings at this East Coast getaway.


The surrounding scene looks like a mini medieval fort, built on mars: behind me, a crude two-metre-tall log fence; in front, a space-age igloo with a screen door. Most people come to New Brunswick’s Ridgeback Lodge, a glamping destination an hour north of Saint John, for these igloos. The 185-acre property’s otherworldly geodesic accommodations – four deluxe Dream Domes and a few smaller Stargazers – are all modishly minimalist, kitted out with kitchenettes, bathrooms and king-size beds, and booked six to 12 months in advance. But here’s the rub: I’m here for a tub. Each dome comes with a Japanese wood-fired soaking tub, a simple, jet-free construction of 30 red-cedar planks, swaddled by trees, built for two and open to the night sky. And there’s nary a drop of chlorine in sight. I’m not much of a hot-tub gal – I end up feeling like a sweaty piece of grey meat – but this looks like an experience I can immerse myself in.

I want to earn my soak, so I grab my boyfriend and head out to explore the Kingston Peninsula, carved out of southern New Brunswick by the mighty Saint John River, which feeds myriad waterfalls and swimming holes along the way. We cruise a tributary, the Kennebecasis River, aboard a pontoon boat captained by a vivacious woman named Zelda. As we spy osprey and eagles soaring above, first mate Ginger watches beavers swim by, trying in vain to keep herself in check. (Ginger is a golden lab mix.) In nearby Hampton, we head to Kredl’s, a market that’s grown to include a butcher, a baker (but no candlestick maker), an ice cream shop, a plant nursery and a cookhouse, where I have the best chicken burger of my life. Back at Ridgeback, we hike the Adventure Trail, a two-and-a-half-kilometre trek thus named as it’s not maintained and hikers have been known to encounter moose. (Though I continue my 32-year streak of never having seen one, we do spot larger-than-life St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen.) When we reach our campsite, I pop inside the dome to lie down, just for a moment.

Hot tub

The next thing I know, my eyelids are flitting open in the pink light of what looks suspiciously like sunrise. It’s like waking up inside a giant peach, albeit one with a maple-lined view of Kingston Creek. This delicious feeling is quickly supplanted by the dawning memory of last night’s hot-tub flub.

Precautions are taken to prevent yesterday’s blunder. In an effort to avoid overexertion, the day is spent pondside; as ponds go, Ridgeback’s is pretty perfect. Surrounded by pines and ash trees, the foot-friendly bottom of firmly packed mud drops away quickly, and the waterhole reveals itself to have depth – so much that I can’t find the floor when diving off the floating dock. Save for one other couple that comes for a spot of lazy kayaking, we have the pond to ourselves. The day’s languid rhythm is interrupted only for a trip back to Kredl’s for a bag of New Brunswick’s own Covered Bridge Potato Chips – okay, and maybe another chicken burger. It’s soon time, though, and I head back to our dome to begin the delicate dance of heating the hot tub.

Kindling first, then wood. Open draft, close draft. Check, stir, stoke. Read, pace, peer, paw. Three hours later, the tub hits 38°C; I trundle into the water and, in an inelegant display of fluid mechanics, slosh litres of carefully warmed water to the ground below. A moment passes, and everything quiets. The water, my muscles, my mind and the night sky are all still, and soon I can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.

Ridgeback Lodge

86 Old Reach Rd., Kingston,

Zelda’s River Adventures

1075 Main St., Hampton,


1171 Main St., Hampton,



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