Camping in the backyard: Inn Town Campground in Nevada City set to open this summer |

Camping in the backyard: Inn Town Campground in Nevada City set to open this summer

Husband and wife team Dan and Erin Thiem are gearing up for the opening of their Inn Town Campground in June. The wooded campground less than two miles from downtown Nevada City offers pitch-your-own tent sites, RV spaces with full hookups and canvas "glamping" tents with real beds and linens. Learn more at:
Photo by Katie White Photography |

This summer, outdoor enthusiasts can finally have the best of both worlds — the experience of camping in the woods, and all the amenities Nevada City has to offer.

“I have talked to a number of locals who say, ‘I can’t wait to stay-cation,’” said Erin Thiem, owner of the new Inn Town Campground with her husband Dan Thiem.

In the works since 2013, the new, family-owned campground, on 15 wooded acres located just under two miles from downtown Nevada City, features a total of 70 sites.

Visitors can choose from pitch-your-own tent camping, RV space with full hookups (think Airstream), and, for those who don’t want to rough it — deluxe canvas “glamping” tents, with electricity, real beds and freshly laundered linens.

Erin and Dan Thiem are on schedule to open in June and are already taking reservations for July.

A walk through the campground is like walking through a state park, with tall cedar and sugar pine trees and flowering dogwood. There’s the historic Chinese miner’s cemetery, and, next door, the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.

Natural breaks in the landscape were considered in the design of the campground, giving campers plenty of space for spreading out and making s’mores with the kids.

“You really feel like you’re in nature, not just in a parking lot with a patch of grass. It feels like you’re 20 miles out. The whole project has always been about what makes sense with the land,” said Dan Thiem.

Visitors who come from the Bay Area, Reno and Sacramento for things like film festivals and mountain bike races are just a mile and a half away from the town’s beer pubs and nightlife, cultural events like live theater and music, boutique shopping and gourmet restaurants.

Just a short drive away from the campground is some of the finest outdoor recreation in the state. Folks can spend the day at the treasured Yuba River, hike or bike miles of trails or go kayaking on a mountain lake in the Sierra Nevada.

Not strangers to adventure, the Thiems spent the summer after college on a Volkswagen van road trip to Alaska and lived for five years in New Zealand. Parents of two boys, the longtime community supporters own the Outside Inn in downtown Nevada City.

In 2011, Erin took over the business from her mom, Nevada City Councilmember Evans Phelps. Built in the 1930s, the original Airway Motel was purchased by Phelps in 1997. After an extensive remodel, she opened for business as the Outside Inn in 1998. Catering to outdoor enthusiasts, the Outside Inn has built up a family-like guest list of folks with fond memories of their stays and who faithfully come back year after year.

Called an “ambassador,” a “cultural reporting team” and “a tireless supporter,” Erin Thiem’s weekly blog, “Inn Side Nevada City” is visual storytelling eye candy that promotes the county’s eclectic people, places and vibrant happenings around town. The blog has a heady following of tourism and travel writers.

This same passion and commitment to showcasing the place they live is evident with the new campground project.

The idea is to give visitors a sense of entry or insight into the community so they feel a part of the experience, Dan Thiem said.

Campers will have access to a general store for staples like milk and coffee, a communal lounge with wi-fi, kitchen and dining area, hot showers and even laundry. A swimming pool is in the works, too. Weekly events and activities will be posted on a bulletin board and like the Outside Inn, campers will have an array of trail maps to choose from. Knowledgeable local residents make up the staff and will be on hand to answer questions about where to go for the best beer or pizza joint.

In some ways, campers will feel like they are camping in their own backyard.

“People come here for something unique and different. We’re taking Outside Inn hospitality and bringing it to the campground,” Erin Thiem said.

Learn more at:

Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at or 530-913-3067.

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