I lift many Chevy 1500's (and other trucks) and install 35 inch tires. You would be amazed at the amount of 2wd trucks are on the road that give the appearance of a lifted 4x4, and have no transfer case to speak of.
A few downsides....... The rear axles for these trucks are rated pretty low, in other words, they are pretty small for the added loads of larger tires, so they break. The front bearings seem to wear quickly too, steering racks have gone out well before there time on trucks with big tires, and transmissions go south a lot. Granted, everything can be modified to deal with the bigger stuff, but you are still left with a truck that will not be as capable as a 4 wheel drive. ( that trans problem applies to both 4x4, and 2x4, with larger tires)
By the time, and money you have spent lifting a 2wd, you might as well have just bought a 4x4. So maybe you have to wait a little while to lift it, or even wait a little while to even make the initial purchase, but I think that given your history with 4 wheel drives, and the potential need for 4 wheel drive while camping, you might be better off getting a truck with a front differential.