Luxury 5-star hotels hang onto your hats; there is a new breed of retreats and lodges that are gaining attention all over the country. Taking a page from history; wilderness retreats, lodges, inns (however you want to refer to them), are becoming the new spot for travelers wanting to explore nature without sacrificing comfort. From the stunning scenery of Alaska to the cowboy country of Wyoming, these 11 wilderness retreats are among the best in the United States.
11. Alderbrook Resort and Spa, Washington
Located just two hours from Seattle, this resort and spa makes you feel like you are worlds away. The resort rests on the shores of the Hood Canal, surrounded by the Olympic Mountains, and home to a plethora of wildlife including eagles, osprey, seals, and salmon. This luxury retreat features guestrooms with incredible amenities such as luxury linens, soaking tubs and fireplaces. During the day guests are encouraged to take advantage of the Hood Canal at the doorstep and explore the waters by canoe, kayak, crabbing or fishing.
The surrounding 525 acres are perfect for hiking and exploring, knowing that the beautiful resort awaits you at the end of the day. Back at the resort guests will indulge in the spa, glassed-in pool with mountain views and wine & dine at the incredible restaurant with its ever-changing menu. If you were looking for luxury meets wilderness, the Alderbrook Resort and Spa is the place for you.
10. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
This historical log-and-stone building dates back to 1903 and remains one of the first true wilderness lodges that still operate today. Located in Yellowstone National Park it is the most requested lodging facility in the park and is considered the largest log structure in the world. Visitors will be enthralled by the towering lobby that features a massive stone fireplace and handcrafted clock made out of copper and iron.
Guests here must be willing to embrace the wilderness style of life as there are no televisions, radios or air-conditioning in any of the park lodgings. Instead, visitors will be spending their time outdoors, embracing nature through hiking, boating, horseback riding, or taking guided tours. Stunning scenery, sunsets, and wildlife are all just a part of the experience here at the Old Faithful Inn.
9. Big Cedar Lodge, Missouri
This sprawling wilderness resort is a combination of contemporary luxury and a haven of natural beauty. The choice is up to visitors whether they want to spend their days trekking the nature trails and exploring the lost caves or relaxing on one of the sunset cruises. Rustic log cabins provide the ultimate privacy and comfort for those looking to escape reality. Other activities of interest here are wagon rides, fishing, standup paddle boarding, painting, cooking, and campfires.
This wilderness resort offers the perfect experience for families who aren’t quite at the level of “roughing it” and still need superior amenities to keep the kids happy, such as the awesome lazy river and outdoor heated pools. Don’t worry about not feeling “wild” enough though, once you are tucked into your cabin in front of the wood-burning fireplace, you’ll understand the true meaning of wilderness.
8. Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming
If you have ever wanted to experience a working cattle ranch in the heart of the Wyoming wilderness, your chance awaits you at Red Reflet Ranch. This all-inclusive wilderness experience is fully customizable depending on whether you are looking for non-stop fun or a quiet and relaxing getaway. Guests here are encouraged to spend their time exploring the ranch on horseback and no matter what level of rider you are, this ranch has a horse to match your abilities.
Hiking, mountain biking, skeet shooting, rock climbing, swimming, star gazing, fishing and ATV’ing are all activities that are encouraged. Guests here stay at luxurious chalets complete with private hot tubs, stocked kitchens, and fireplaces. Wildlife in the area includes elk, fox, deer, antelope, raptors and more. What is most astounding about this ranch though is the unbelievable setting; a landscape that varies from red rimrock to rolling foothills to aspen forests, limestone canyons, and mountain meadows.
7. Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge, Alaska
Alaska is one place that is loaded with incredible wilderness lodges and frankly, it’s hard to pick just a few to feature. Kachemak Bay in particular though offers an incredible and personalized experience like none other. Offering a ratio of 12 guests per 10 naturalists, visitors here get the full Alaskan experience. This all-inclusive lodge features charming cabins, gourmet meals featuring freshly caught local seafood and a range of activities to keep you busy all day long.
Amenities range from outdoor hot tubs to log saunas, incredible views, and all food, beer, and wine included in one price. Challenge yourself on one of many hiking trails, watch for whales, seals and sea lions during a boat trip, learn to sea kayak, relax with yoga in the morning or curl up with a good book in front of the fireplace. Whatever your heart seeks, you will find it here.
6. Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon, Arizona
This historic oasis is nestled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the only lodging below the canyon rim and only reached by foot, raft or mule. This is the ultimate wilderness experience. Welcoming visitors since 1920, this ranch is often booked years in advance. Hiking the bottom of the canyon from the ranch is the reason trekkers head here and although you won’t find luxury linens and gourmet meals; you’ll find a fantastic group of people, family style meals, and comfortable cabins and dorms.
The ranch provides all meals including a bagged lunch to take with you as you head out for the day. Make sure to visit Bright Angel Creek to cool off in the hot summer months. Experiencing this wilderness retreat is only made better when a full moon is in the sky, something to look ahead at when you book. And don’t plan on spending just one night, the more the better is the consensus of fellow travelers.
5. The Point, Saranac Lake, New York
When you combine nature and luxury you get “The Point”, an adults-only wilderness retreat in the Adirondacks. It was once the former great camp of William Avery Rockefeller and has since maintained its natural charm and added exceptional luxury. Guests here have the freedom to explore the breathtaking surrounding, by hiking, boating, fishing, waterskiing and more in the summer.
Winter time brings snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, warm fires and mulled wine. What stands out at this wilderness retreat is the level of service from the staff, who makes the experience truly unforgettable. A kitchen open round the clock, top-shelf liquors and wine, stunning guest rooms with handcrafted furnishings and gourmet dining complete with a twice-weekly black-tie affair; make this wilderness retreat stand out as one of the best.
4. Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge, Alaska
This intimate timber-framed lodge is nestled in the village of Halibut Cove, with miles of scenery at your fingertips to explore. This family-run wilderness retreat invites guests to explore the Alaskan wilderness, dine on gourmet meals and stay in beautiful bedrooms with an outstanding view. Included in the experience here are three gourmet meals, extensive wildlife tours, guided hikes, fishing, and kayaking; including kayaking around the glaciers.
Many guests choose to relax on the wrap around deck, wine in hand watching for whales, sea otters and seals while others embark on magnificent bear watching tours that the hosts here will gladly book for you. Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge is a true testament to the Alaskan Wilderness and the friendly people that love to share their land with visitors.
3. The Lodge at Buckberry Creek, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Located in the foothills of the great Smokey Mountains this lodge was inspired by the great camps of the Adirondacks and offers visitors an unforgettable experience. Step back in time here in this rustic lodge, but with all the conveniences of modern amenities. Rooms range from lodge suites that offer crackling fireplaces to grand suites with separate sleeping quarters, hand-woven rugs and authentic Adirondack artifacts.
What surrounds this lodge is hundreds of acres for hiking, skiing, fishing or simply just lounging on one of the hammocks. Meals can be had at the exclusive on-site restaurant whose menu changes daily depending on the “catch of the day” and what is in season. Expect incredible customer service, luxury suites and memories to last a lifetime at this wilderness resort.
2. Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson, Wyoming
Spring Creek Ranch is actually located on a wildlife sanctuary, home to over 100 species of birds and wildlife, located 1,000 feet above the town of Jackson and boasts some of the best views of the Teton Mountain Range. This is authentic cowboy country and this ranch offers luxurious accommodations mixed with rustic flairs that make you feel as though you are a true part of this wilderness experience. In the wintertime, guests enjoy sleigh rides, snowshoeing, skiing and wildlife safaris that feature wolves, bears and more.
Summertime brings activities such as hiking, climbing, fly-fishing and summertime safaris. Accommodations range from fantastic Inn rooms to mountain villas and you won’t go hungry eating at the beautiful restaurant overlooking the Tetons that serves up upscale mountain-man cooking. Other awesome amenities at this retreat include outdoor hot tubs, fireplaces, the Wilderness Adventure Spa, heated pools and incredible service staff. You won’t just want to spend one night here, we promise you that.
1. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Alaska
It is considered one of the best heli-skiing lodges in all of Alaska and you can’t get much more into the wilderness than Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. Staying here requires taking a float plane in, and includes all accommodations, transportation, meals, and activities. This remote lodge is located on the banks of the Talachulitna River and Judd Lake, and well within eyeshot of two 11,000-foot volcanoes and Mount McKinley.
Visitors here should expect deluxe guest rooms, grand family rooms that create a cozy atmosphere for fireside chats, hand-selected wine from the 200-bottle cellar, a lakeside, wood-fired hot tub and sauna, professional massage services, media, music and wireless Internet. Winter time brings heli-skiing enthusiasts to the lodge, whether beginner or expert for a whole week of discovering the incredible landscape. Summertime, on the other hand, brings guests who are looking to indulge in heli-fishing, heli-hiking and water sports. Whatever activity you desire, this staff will go out of their way to deliver the ultimate wilderness experience to you.