Windows on the Wild

Ten lodges where you can take it all in, and then launch an expedition out the back door

Life on the edge: cabins bordering Lake O'Hara, BC, Canada    

THE FOLKS WHO RUN THE BEST WILDERNESS LODGES are something like the best masseuses: They know exactly what you want and where you want it, and when they're done...oh, my. Breakfast is too good and too abundant, but it doesn't matter, because you'll just burn it off. The kayaks and canoes are ready. The mountain bikes are tuned. The guides know exactly where to go, but you'll feel like no one's been there before.
The lodges that get it really get it. Once, at one in the far north, I stole off alone (and, I thought, unnoticed) after an evening of stories and red wine, grabbed a fly rod from the shed, and cast for grayling till after midnight. When I returned, there was a chocolate cookie on my pillow and a note inviting me to tap on the kitchen door if I had any fish to be cleaned.

The ten places we've featured below, from a Utah desert oasis to a Quebec salmon-fishing outpost, know the formula without being formulaic. Plus, by definition, they're in or on the edge of wilderness. Which leads us to an inspired suggestion that each of our top ten can facilitate: After a tenure in their graces, step right off the porch or push off the dock and launch your own foray into the wilds, by foot, kayak, canoe, or llama. Revel deep in the setting you've been nibbling at. When you return a few or many days later, leave your boots on the stoop and enjoy full-on ambience, where you'll find strong coffee wafting (and stronger beverages chilling) and leather armchairs pulled up close to a crackling fire, inviting unclocked repose. Great day. Great life. What's for dinner?
1. An Adirondack hideaway on 12,000 acres
2. A Wyoming multisport outpost
3. A British Columbia floating lodge
4. A rustic paddle-sport haven in Alaska
5. A pastoral New England mountain inn
6. A red-rock oasis in Utah
7. A Montana ranch
8. A Colorado mountain-biking aerie
9. A Quebec fly-fishing sanctuary
10. A Selkirk Mountains heli-hiking retreat

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