Trail-running is exploding in popularity, and for good reason. What’s not to like about a sport that requires virtually no equipment—except (maybe) shorts and trail running shoes—and allows you to explore vast mountain ranges and terrain that most people will never experience? Even better, our country has some of the most beautiful and remote lines in the world.
Here are our picks for the best long-distance adventure trail-running routes in the country.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (93 miles, 24,000 feet of ascent)
It doesn’t get much better than running around the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, 14,410-foot Mount Rainier. The active volcano is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. Phase change is visibly and audibly evident as you cross over sculpted valleys and moraines along the 93-mile Wonderland Trail. The 360-degree view of Mount Rainier starts at Longmire Visitor Center traveling counter-clockwise to Mowich Lake, then White River Campground before arriving back at Longmire. These are also the vehicle accessible locations where you can drop food and water if you’d prefer to break the route up into manageable chunks. Vast and remote in scope, the well-worn trail—often wide enough to run side by side—traverses through peaceful old-growth forests and subalpine meadows of wildflowers.
The Fastest Known Time: Kyle Skaggs; 20 hours, 53 minutes; September 23, 2006
Zion National Park, Utah (48 miles, 9,000 feet of ascent)
This 48-mile route takes you on a tour of massive red cliffs and lush green valley floors as you run across the entire National Park. Just six years ago, this challenging point-to-point was virtually unknown. Then, two of ultrarunning’s hardmen revived the route and brought it into the sport’s consciousness. Most choose to run west, getting the big climb out of Zion Canyon over with early in their adventure. The views from the West Rim are breathtaking, but what makes this route amazing is its diversity: slot canyons with flash flood potential, switchbacks up sheer cliffs, jagged peaks, expansive sandstone slabs, improbable mounds of earth, sandy creek beds, and valley floors. The trail out of Zion Canyon uses about half of the Angel’s Landing hike, which you should include as an out-and-back add-on because it’s one of the best hikes on earth.
The Fastest Known Time: Mike Foote & Justin Yates, 7 hours 22 minutes, May 26, 2013
Silverton-Telluride-Ouray, Colorado (100 miles, 34,000 feet of ascent)
One race has captured the attention of the best mountain runners in the world—the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run. It’s so coveted, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to gain entry (first-time applicants have about a 1.4 percent chance). A popular way to experience the majestic 100-mile loop through the San Juan Mountains is to break it into three days ranging from 28-45 miles—a so-called “Softrock.” This ultra-tour of the iconic towns of Telluride and Ouray averages over 11,000 feet in elevation, with a total of 34,000 feet of uphill. Lacking the requisite oxygen to move anywhere near your sea-level potential (the race’s nickname is the “Hardwalk”), your rewards for the pain are plenty: alpine lakes, alpine meadows, remote mountain passes (Virginius pass is only as wide as a VW bus), gnarly scree fields, and the highest point on the course—14,048 feet Handies Peak. By the time you finish this one you will either swear off ultrarunning or throw your name into the lottery.
The Fastest Known Time: Kyle Skaggs; 23 hours, 23 minutes; August 5, 2008
Dropping into the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail is a quasi-religious experience. However, the sheer immensity of it all won’t hit home until you arrive at the North Rim—21 miles from where you started—and realize you now have to run back. Running into and out of the six-million-year-old hole has become a rite of passage for North American ultrarunners. There are some miles of mellow flat running along the Colorado River, but this route is defined by its two massive climbs through millions of years of rock sediment. If you under-hydrate or under-fuel the final 4,860 foot ascent will turn into a death-march (and you’ll understand why entire books have been written about deaths in the Grand Canyon).
The Fastest Known Time: Rob Krar, 6 hours, 21 minutes, May 11, 2013
Starting at String Lake and following Cascade Canyon the well-maintained trail quickly covers 10,700 foot Hurricane Pass, where you will literally be stopped in your tracks by the view of the South, Middle, and Grand Teton mountains. Circling the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains is not for the faint of heart. The snowy steep descent from Static Peak divide is “no fall terrain,” and this adventure run is almost always a solitary endeavor. Bull moose and black bears will be your only company as you travel over lingering snowfields, past turquoise alpine lakes and paintbrush floral arrangements.
The Fastest Known Time: Evan Honeyfield, 5 hours, 34 minutes, September 17, 2009
If the three-day Softrock is a bit more than you want to bite off, the Four Pass Loop is a more reasonable portion of big Colorado mountain running. Located just outside of Aspen, in the Elk Mountains, the loop starts at 9,500 feet and is the easily the best one-day ultra-run in all of Colorado. The 27-mile journey is an altitude runner’s dreamscape, with 8,000 feet of climbing and four passes over 12,000 feet in elevation (Buckskin, Trail Rider, Frigid Air, and West Maroon passes). If you have the lungs, almost every step is runnable (hence the blindingly fast FKT). Those fit enough to complete the loop are rewarded with some of Colorado’s world-class terrain, with impossibly clear lakes, waterfalls, bald mountains, and endless ridges framing the route.
The Fastest Known Time: Sage Canaday, 4 hours, 27 minutes, September 5, 2013 *Lance Armstrong ran the loop in 5 hours, 40 minutes, August 26, 2012.
NaPali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii (22 miles, 10,000 feet of ascent)
This 11-mile out-and-back on the northern shore of the island of Kauai feels like you are running along the edge of a deserted island. Dramatic 4,000-foot cliffs shoot out of the Pacific Ocean, covered in nothing but dark green vegetation and broken only by dark brown rock. From the Ke‘e trailhead most tourists only venture as far as Hanakapiai beach, just two miles along the route. Those who continue are treated to three of the seven Na Pali (which means “high cliffs”) valleys, each barricaded from the next by sheer cliffs. When the trail isn’t engulfed in vegetation, it provides stunning views of the coastline. Switchbacks take you from beach, over high cliffs, to high ridges and back again, until you are dropped onto the remote Kalalau beach. There is no road access to this beach, so to enjoy its tranquility you have to earn it on foot (or cheat by boat).
The Fastest Known Time: Max King, 4 hours, 59 minutes, January 22, 2012
Gorham, New Hampshire (26 miles, 9,600 feet of ascent)
What the “Presi-Traverse” lacks in feet-above-sea-level it more than makes up for in rugged rocky terrain. This is “peak-baggin’” at its best, a point-to-point route from Pinkham to Crawford Notch that summits the nine mountains of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. The traverse is so technical that it’s hard to get into a rhythm or to feel like you are running for any significant length of time. “Running” through the most extensive above tree line area in the East means conditions can be harsh. Mount Washington, the highest peak on the route (and in New Hampshire) at 6,288 feet, has had some of the highest winds in recorded history, and has killed hikers of hypothermia in the summertime. Although not an official “ultra-distance” this route runs more like a mountain 50k than a trail marathon.
The Fastest Known Time: Ben Nephew, 4 hours, 34 minutes, September 7, 2013
You don’t have to journey to an exotic ashram in India a la Eat, Pray, Love for an exclusive, life-changing meditation retreat. Whether you’re traveling solo, want to reconnect as a couple, or take an unforgettable trip with friends, some incredible resorts and getaways in the States are geared to help you decompress, reenergize, and connect with yourself and the natural world.
Red Feather Lakes, Colorado How to disconnect to reconnect: The Shambhala philosophy teaches the wakefulness of human goodness and being, and at the 600-acre Rocky Mountain retreat you’re sure to find your own meditative style among the diverse offerings of mindful practices and expansive landscape. Plus, cellphones don’t work here. Guests can create a personal retreat package or register for the many programs that range from “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” based on the best-selling book by Sakyong Mipham, to nature-based programs with an interdisciplinary focus on astronomy or botany. Stay for a weekend, a week, or a monthlong journey of self-exploration that focuses on body awareness, mindful living, contemplative arts, or personal transformation. Lodging varies from tent platforms that get you close to nature to lodge suites with modern amenities. There is vegetarian and vegan cuisine, as well as meals for carnivores, ranging from Italian to Indian.
Get outside: Eight miles of trails await for hiking, running, or snowshoeing, which transcend into the practice of active or moving meditation. Visitors also have access to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, a Buddhist monument that stands 108 feet tall and is open to the public on the first level.
Take me there: Lodging rates include three healthful meals a day and start at $109 per night per person. Programs charge additional tuition fees.
Hana, Maui, and Austin, Texas How to disconnect to reconnect: True luxury and tropical paradise meet in this experiential Hawaiian destination that features an enchanted itinerary of guided meditations, nurturing yoga, luxury spa services and accommodations, eclectic and nourishing gourmet meals, and endless adventure. There are no dedicated retreat dates, so book a stay when it works for you and do exactly what your heart desires. The Austin resort is equally indulgent and only 20 minutes from the city. Surrounded by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, the property includes a 3.5-acre organic farm with gardens, chickens, and horses. Executive chef Benjamin Baker and his staff specialize in farm-to-table cuisine with local, organic ingredients.
Get outside: Jump on a paddleboard or canoe, or try one of Hana’s unique adventures, such as a soaring the skies over Maui for a 30- or 60-minute glider plane ride; enjoying an equine encounter that focuses on nonverbal communication, self-awareness, and intention; or learning the Hawaiian tradition of throw-net fishing, passed down through generations. In Austin, mountain bike or take advantage of challenge courses between guided meditations, tai chi, and nature hikes.
Take me there: All-inclusive packages for lodging, meals, and spa/activities credit start at $600 per night per person in Hana and $475 per night per person in Austin. Extra charges for some adventure experiences apply.
Miami Beach, Florida How to disconnect to reconnect: Soak in the Florida sunshine and positive vibes at this spa hotel that offers a spectacular lineup of meditation experiences and workshops, including garden fire-pit meditations, crystal sonic-sound bath meditations, healing through chakras, breathwork, and kundalini and yoga workshops. Inspired by a holistic approach to wellness that incorporates fitness, nutrition, and bodywork, the Standard offers a hydrotherapy playground featuring an arctic plunge pool, mud lounge, Scotch hoses, infinity pool, and hamam, plus services such as acupuncture and life coaching. On the menu, you’ll find fresh, raw, organic, and spa-inspired Mediterranean cuisine (even a hamburger and tater tots) as well as a selection of juices and smoothies. If completely immersing yourself in life’s most sumptuous treatments is your goal, the Standard has you covered—in algae-infused detoxifying mud.
Get outside: This is Miami Beach, so all the water has to offer is at your disposal, including swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. Guests can also enjoy daily sunrise yoga, martial arts instruction, and rides on rented Warby Parker bicycles.
Take me there: A range of rooms and packages are available at the Standard Spa. For a retreat and workshop schedule and to find specials on select packages.
Brooks, Maine How to disconnect to reconnect: Take unplugging to a deeper level at an intimate silent meditation and yoga retreat that hosts up to 11 people on Maine’s northeastern coast. There’s no small talk to navigate or distractions to dodge with the retreat’s social silence policy—it’s just you slowing down. Designed to increase awareness and simplify life, a daily schedule of multiple meditation sessions, yoga, and free time lead guests through a contemplative process that heals and connects. Talking is encouraged during guided sessions, which offer opportunities to ask questions and discuss ways to integrate experiences into daily life. Fresh vegetarian meals are prepared three times a day from teacher and co-director Patricia Brown’s cookbook and feature Indian-inspired recipes and organic vegetables from the garden.
Get outside: Hike the trails on the property’s 100 acres or take a swim in the spring-fed pond. The unstructured time between sessions, when guests are eating, resting, or walking, can be the most awakening, says Surya Chandra Das, teacher and co-director. Take, for instance, the story of a guest who tackled her first hike on a challenging trail in about 45 minutes; by the end of the retreat, that same hike took four hours.
Take me there: To register or find a list of upcoming themed retreats, which range from two to six nights and start at $595 per person.
Tucson, Arizona How to disconnect to reconnect: There’s something innately spiritual about the desert, and Miraval provides a healing oasis for the mind, body, and soul. Meditation offerings range from beginner to advanced and include such experiences as floating meditation, mindful stress mastery, forgiveness meditation, and a labyrinth. Guests have access to enriching and diverse programming that focuses on art and photography, integrative wellness, culinary exploration, equine experiences, and, of course, meditation and healthy living. Outdoor treatment rooms and a full spa and bodywork menu rejuvenate and pamper guests with Ayurvedic, reiki, and Thai massage therapies. Mindfulness, self-discovery, and living in the moment are at the core of this luxury wellness spa, which also extends into the kitchen. Healthful, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients are featured on a changing menu with vegetarian and vegan options.
Get outside: Whether you want to stay active or jump-start your goals, there are no shortage of activities to keep you moving. Outback hikes, mountain biking, yoga hiking, trail running, challenge courses, and an all-day rock climbing excursion on Mt. Lemmon are all at your fingertips.
Take me there: A variety of packages are available starting at $429 per night per person. For a complete list of retreats, programs, spa services, and accommodations.
Halibut Cove, Alaska How to disconnect to reconnect: Discover the softer side of Alaska in a secluded lodge that features a poustinia, a silent meditation space open 24 hours a day. Stillpoint Lodge welcomes guests for scheduled group retreats and offers a cabin for private stays where guests can set their own schedule. Guided meditations, yoga, and a labyrinth for walking meditations contribute to the calm, environmentally conscious campus surrounded by majestic wilderness where guests can connect with the spectacle of nature. An organic garden and freshly caught halibut, salmon, oysters, and mussels enhance the pescetarian menu that features artful cuisine.
Get outside: Halibut Cove is located on the edge of Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska’s only wilderness park. A popular activity is hiking into the park to enjoy a prepared lunch and then set out on inflatable kayaks to explore the glacier lake’s icebergs. Every detail of your day’s adventure is taken care of by Stillpoint’s small and personable staff. Back on Stillpoint’s property, nature trails are easily accessible for hiking and picking berries in the months of August and September.
Take me there: Lodging, meals, yoga, meditation, and various other amenities and activities, including the boat ride to get to Halibut Cove, start at $500 per night per person. Services and experiences, such as spiritual direction, private yoga, or massage, are additional.
Lenox, Massachusetts How to disconnect to reconnect: Step into luxurious elegance fit for royalty at this grand estate located in the Berkshire Hills. Beyond the typical experience, Canyon Ranch defines spa as a Special Personalized Adventure. Add transformative programs designed to boost well-being and health to your all-inclusive package and move effortlessly from visualization mediation, spiritual guidance, yoga, the on-site labyrinth, touch therapies, and full-service spa treatments. Create a getaway that fits your style, or step out of your comfort zone with programming options like tarot card reading, astrology, portrait drawing, mandala making, cooking classes, or a Rite of Passage ceremony. Chef-created meals, including vegetarian options, are mindful and focus on health and nutrition and fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Get outside: This is New England, so guests can enjoy the outdoors year round. Hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, and snowshoeing will connect you with nature, or challenge yourself on the ropes course’s zipline and giant swing.
Take me there: All-inclusive packages offer accommodations, meals, and a variety of activities and classes. For a comprehensive list of rates ranging from two to 10 nights and to find out more about Canyon Ranch’s Lenox property or other properties, including Tucson, Las Vegas, and Miami.
Fairfield, Iowa How to disconnect to reconnect: Ayurveda translates to “knowledge of life” and is an ancient Indian preventive health practice that incorporates meditation, nutrition, yoga, massage, and herbs to bring the body and mind into balance and a state of healing. Located on 100 acres of countryside in Fairfield, Iowa—also home to Maharishi University—the Raj is part of the offical town of Vedic City, where the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program is taught and practiced. Guests have the option of visiting the health spa for a complete Ayurvedic treatment that includes wellness sessions, daily two- to three-hour cleansing spa treatments, yoga classes, lectures, organic vegetarian meals, and meditation. There is also a four-day Transcendental Meditation retreat to learn the practice and enjoy the various benefits of the Raj, including gem light therapy, anti-stress massage, and aromatherapy.
Get outside: Strenuous physical activity is discouraged while going through the full Ayurvedic treatment program, but guests can stroll the walking trails around the tranquil property day or night. Gentle yoga is also offered daily.
Take me there: Packages range from three to 21 days or longer and start at $2,200 per person. Additional services, treatments, and programs are available at extra cost.
Big Sur, California How to disconnect to reconnect: Free your inhibitions while you raise your self-awareness and explore human possibilities in the awe-inspiring setting of Northern California’s spiritual coast. Various meditation practices are offered here, from Buddhist to tantric, depending on the workshop and instructor. A meditation roundhouse is located on the scenic 27-acre property, where guests can also enjoy cliffside hot springs (clothing optional), ocean views, healing arts, and soul-seeking meditation and mindfulness workshops that incorporate a hybrid of interdisciplinary themes, such as yoga, music, self-connection, stress-reduction, and fulfilling relationships between fathers and sons. Part of the experience at Esalen is its historic lodge that has hosted legendary guests like Henry Miller, Steve McQueen, Joan Baez, and Hunter S. Thompson. Family-style communal dining at the lodge features vegetarian and gluten-free options, organic produce from the on-site garden, and locally sourced eggs and fish.
Get outside: Although the California vibe is more Zen than adrenaline, guests can run along the Pacific Coast Highway, go on a nature hike, or enjoy the ocean by kayaking and surfing.
Take me there: Packages range from two to seven days; monthlong work-studies are also available. All-inclusive weekend workshops in a private suite start at $1,750 per person.
Rhinebeck, New York How to disconnect to reconnect: Just a train ride from New York City beckon six learning paths spanning health, healing, and sustainable living to awaken your spirit. The 200-acre Hudson Valley campus offers more than 350 workshops, yoga teacher training, and rest and rejuvenation retreats each year. Meditation, both guided and self-practice, is integrated into classes like Zen archery, moving meditations, or meditation-focused workshops that teach techniques such as Vipassana meditation. A sacred space called the Sanctuary is open for daily group meditation and contemplation hours. Omega’s two- or five-day R&R retreats are perfect if you want to release and unplug without a set schedule. Yoga, shamanic healing, acupuncture, massage, henna, facials, and chakra portraits are some of the services and treatments offered in the Wellness Center. An integral emphasis on sustainability and farm-to-table is reflected in Omega’s dining hall, which serves mostly vegetarian meals and is three-star certified by the Green Restaurant Association.
Get outside: Wooded trails and country roads provide the perfect setting for a walk, run, or hike. Explore the quiet 80-acre Long Pond Lake by kayak, canoe, or rowboat, and take a swim in warmer months. If you decide to adventure off campus, be sure to ask about nearby hot-air balloon rides and state parks.
Take me there: Two-night single cabin room accommodation packages, which include three meals a day, start at $662 per person. Depending on the program, workshops and specialty services have additional tuition and fees.
Just because you're hunting and fishing doesn't mean you have to be sleeping on the ground and eating your meals by a campfire. Increasingly, luxury lodges are catering to hook and bullet clientele, providing guides, gear, and even gourmet meals for any backcountry adventure. And after you spend your days covered in blood or knee-deep in a river, come home to five-star accommodations that leave you rested and ready for another day in the field.
Crested Butte, Colorado More than a luxury hotel, this seven-bedroom lodge matches guests with private chefs, guides, transportation, gear—anything and everything you might need to design your dream experience. Since the lodge is just 45 minutes from the famed Taylor River, trout fishing is one of its specialties.
Guides equip guests with Scott fly rods and drive them to the Taylor, a Gold Medal tailwater that produces Colorado’s biggest rainbow trout. The latest record-setter measured a whopping 40.25 inches, and 10-pound fatties are commonly caught. A steady diet of mysis shrimp acts like steroids for these fish.
Catching them is notoriously tricky. If your goal is to reel in lots of fish, you might be happier fishing the nearby Gunnison River, which is also a fine fishery. But Scarp Ridge guides are patient and savvy, and the lodge’s stretch of private water, located a few miles downriver from the dam, lets anglers cast for “smaller” 18-inch rainbows that are slightly less picky than the hogs upstream.
This is also the site of the Taylor River Lodge, an eight-cabin outpost scheduled to open in summer 2015. Along with a sprawling main lodge and media room, the property will include an outdoor dining area, custom-built tree house, and a stone bathhouse with a steam room, sauna, hot tub, and indoor saltwater pool overlooking the river.
In the meantime, Scarp Ridge Lodge will remain the headquarters for daily fishing excursions and several weeklong fishing “experiences” (from $2,500 per person). This year, from June 25 through 29, anglers will go float fishing with expert caster and photographer Brian O’Keefe; September 10 through 15, guests will pursue area salmon. From $1,500 per person.
West Yellowstone, Montana The Henry’s Fork of the Snake, the Firehole, the Madison, the Gallatin—mention any of these rivers to a trout addict and they’ll practically hyperventilate. Most lodges in this superbly fishy intersection of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana generally concentrate on just one of these legendary waterways, but Firehole Ranch offers access to all of them and more: the Lamar and Yellowstone Rivers are also within reach of this Orvis-endorsed property.
The Lamar River requires the longest commute—an hour and 45 minutes—but you’ll see more than just trout. This fishery winds through an especially wildlife-rich corner of Yellowstone National Park, where elk and buffalo graze. Then there’s the Madison, located just 10 minutes from the lodge. The 640-acre ranch occupies the southern shore of Hebgen Lake, created by a Madison River dam. Firehole Ranch facilitates both float and wade fishing, and given the spectrum of destinations, you’re virtually guaranteed to encounter hot and heavy action on at least one of them.
Built in 1947 using local pine logs, the lodge and 10 cabins exhibit a patina that new construction can’t imitate. Native American rugs and stone fireplaces lend warmth to the accommodations, which overlook the mountain-ringed lake, and hammocks strung between the trees inspire midday napping.
At dinner, French-born chef Bruno Georgeton refuels anglers with stuffed quail in a Dijon-rosemary sauce, pan-seared halibut with golden lentils and baby beets, and, of course, French-style desserts such as profiteroles and pots de creme. You’ll want to move in for good—but Firehole Ranch is open for just 15 weeks a year, from early June through mid-September. From $600 per person (fishing packages from $2,300 for three days).
Millinocket Lake, Maine Maine’s vast northern expanse feels more like the Wild West than civilized New England, and Libby Camps lets hunters and anglers access those unpeopled wilds with its two seaplanes and a fleet of canoes.
From Libby’s central lodge at the headwaters of the Allagash, Aroostook, and Penobscot—Maine’s three finest fly-fishing rivers—you can explore a 20-mile radius that includes small rivers and ponds visited only by moose. May and June feature dry-fly fishing for brook trout; by September, anglers use streamers to catch landlocked salmon.
The only lodge in the East to have earned Orvis’s endorsement for both fly-fishing and wing shooting, Libby leads bird hunters into the 3,500,000-acre North Maine Woods, home to one of the country’s largest ruffed grouse populations. Big-game hunters can pursue black bear and moose; Libby clients have nabbed some of the largest trophies for both species.
Most of the log cabins are small—and fueled only by wood-burning stoves and gas lamps—so guests typically mingle with other groups in the 1968 lodge, where Mission-style chairs and sofas surround a tall stone fireplace. Fiddlehead salad leads off the wholesome, home-style dinners, and nights are quiet: The lodge’s electricity cuts off at 9 p.m., leaving guests to read by lamplight or savor the northern latitudes’ late-setting summer sun. From $210 per day.
Bristol Bay, Alaska Located in southwest Alaska’s 1.5 million-acre Wood-Tikchik State Park (the largest in the United States), this fishing lodge feels remote, because it is. Everything must be flown in (and out, as there’s no on-site garbage disposal), and planes deliver guests to fishing sites. The property’s four float-equipped aircraft, three De Havilland Beavers and a Cessna 206, operate within a 100-mile radius of the lodge, delivering anglers to outcamps staffed by guides who greet guests with boats and tackle.
Seven duplex cabins are comfortable, not lavish. The views astound, with accommodations occupying a slender peninsula surrounded by broad waters and snow-speckled summits. Service is genteel: After each day of fishing, your pilot radios your cocktail order to the lodge so your drink is ready and waiting for you upon return.
You can fish right from the lodge, where you can cast into the narrows for rainbow and lake trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling, and northern pike. But Bristol Bay is best known for its salmon. Five species are caught here, including king salmon, and the lodge will fillet, vacuum pack, and freeze your catch so you can take it home.
Tikchik Narrows caters to spin and bait fishermen as well as fly casters, and dedicated weeks encourage parents to bring their kids and mix up the fishing schedule with kayaking, wildlife watching, and flight-seeing. Bird hunters should book during the “All-Rounder” week, which combines fishing for rainbow trout and silver salmon with waterfowl hunting on coastal ponds. From $7,900 per person per week.
Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia This eco-resort is remote, and a fleet of helicopters extends your reach to even less-trafficked corners of the West Coast. With a range encompassing 50,000 square miles, flights take guests to isolated streams choked with wild Pacific salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden, and rainbow trout. The chopper stays with you all day so you can bounce between locations to find the hottest action at any particular time.
Most lodges that specialize in life-list angling offer little for nonfishing family members, but Nimmo Bay caters to various interests with yoga classes, spa treatments, heli-assisted hiking, rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, and coastal kayaking. Cocooning is pretty fun, too: Cedar hot tubs sit next to a cascading waterfall, evening cocktails are served on a floating dock fitted with a fire pit, and the nine cabins overlook either the bay or the stream.
British Columbia wines accompany the likes of seared tuna and organic veggies, but the resort’s skill at incorporating the surrounding ambiance makes meals truly exquisite. Lunch might be parked on top of a glacier, where you sit down to a cloth-covered table and a spread of oysters and hot soups.
You can leave your camera behind: The resort’s professional photographers capture your special moments and send you home with a disc of images—no selfie posing required. From $1,895 CAD per person per day.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado Fifty thousand private acres surrounded by national forest on three sides make this one of the most wildlife-dense getaways in the West. Located on the Wyoming/Colorado border amid throngs of elk (some 6,000 head by fall), Three Forks allows rifle hunting for bull elk as early as September 1, when many regions allow only archery. Mule deer and pronghorn, which challenge hunters’ long-range accuracy, round out the quarry.
Fly-fishing is also superb, thanks to a $3.5 million restoration that reduced erosion and created trout habitat along 16 miles of the Little Snake River, which teems with Colorado cutthroat and tiger trout as well as brown and rainbow.
Intended to be the “Ritz-Carlton of the backcountry,” the sprawling lodge includes a 6,000-foot spa, an indoor/outdoor infinity pool overlooking aspen-covered hills, and a variety of guest rooms and suites. Original artwork from Charlie Russell, Wayne Cooper, and Frederic Remington embellish the bar and lounges.
Some meals are served indoors amid dark wood paneling and white linens. Others take place outdoors on the flagstone terrace or beneath the chalky bluffs lining the Little Snake. Whatever the setting, count on splendid spreads of osso buco, lobster pasta, and mint-crusted lamb chops. From $695 per person per night.
Cudjoe Key, Florida Bahia Honda owner and host Gordon Baggett talks with a cowboy’s swagger: The former rodeo bull rider spent years on the pro circuit before becoming a tarpon guide in the Bahamas. After discovering that he could sight 2,000 tarpon in a day in the lower Keys (compared to 15 in the Bahamas), he built this all-inclusive lodge 20 miles from Key West.
The only package deal in the Keys, where anglers have traditionally hired independent guides and booked services piecemeal, Orvis-endorsed Bahia Honda lodges feature Italian marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and an open bar. “I didn’t like how lodges in the Bahamas nickel-and-dimed guests for every little thing, so here you’re presented with no bill at checkout,” says Baggett. That includes booze, tackle, transportation, top-shelf rods and reels, and guides, who live on the property so that fishing can dictate the daily schedule. You want to cast till sunset and land some silver against a tangerine horizon? No problem. The chef will keep your dinner hot.
Guests sometimes fish for bonefish and permit, but tarpon is the lodge specialty, thanks to the “stiff worm” pattern Baggett pioneered some years ago. Imitating the pololo worms tarpon feed on, it has become a go-to fly not just at Bahia Honda, but throughout the Keys. The lodge hosts anglers only in May and June; August through October, Baggett switches to alligator hunting in the marshes of central Florida. From $1,000 per person per night.
Larto Lake, Louisiana “In a league of its own” is how sportsmen describe this gunning and fishing lodge. Anglers can plunder Larto Lake—one of Louisiana’s best crappie spots—and stalk bass in adjacent lakes and bayous. But it’s the wing shooting that truly makes this a must-visit for anyone skilled with a shotgun. The Central and Mississippi migratory flyways converge here, leading throngs of ducks and geese to Honey Brake, and the nearby 60,000-acre Catahoula Lake serves as the wintering grounds for additional waterfowl. Because Honey Brake sits adjacent to the 63,000-acre Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area, hunting for whitetail deer and wild hogs is also offered.
To translate these impressive resources into world-class hunting experiences, Honey Brake asked renowned sportsman Jeff Burrell to steer its programs. Burrell’s Atlanta-based High Adventure Company manages some of the world’s finest hunting and fishing lodges, in Africa as well as the Americas, and his expertise has helped make Honey Brake a duck-hunting paradise.
Duck-flush games and a 15-station sporting clays range let shooters practice between hunts. The four-story, 13,000-square-foot lodge features exposed rough-hewn beams, a four-sided fireplace, and a circular staircase made of gleaming wood. Soaring windows frame sunsets over Larto Lake, and meals include piles of soft-shell crab, alligator bites, and crab claws. The just-completed Camp Larto Lake offers youth camps focusing on shooting, fishing, and conservation. From $975 per person per day.
Alder, Montana As you’d expect from a great fishing lodge, Ruby Springs doesn’t exactly sit right next to the interstate. It’s 90 minutes west of Bozeman, but its idyllic location on the banks of the Ruby River makes it feel planets apart from workaday cares. Ten miles of this celebrated trout stream run through the property, with some stretches containing as many as 2,200 fish per mile.
Should you grow restless, you can also head to the Big Hole, where the June salmonfly hatch triggers a frenzy of surface feeding, or to the Beaverhead, where football-sized four-pounders lurk beneath the banks.
Five cabins sit alongside the Ruby River, while two larger lodging options enjoy a bit more seclusion. Rather than trite Western decor, all feature a vaguely modern design with clean, uncluttered interiors and porches and windows that keep occupants’ focus on the surroundings: Rounded mountains swell up behind the grasses lining the river, and the air shimmers with late-afternoon hatches.
Mornings start with coffee, tea, or juice delivered to your door, followed by a full breakfast in the lodge. Dinners of fish and chops are served beside wall-height windows that let diners watch the setting sun cast its golden light on the Ruby and surrounding peaks. From $2,700 per person for three nights.
Woodbine, Georgia Never heard of Cabin Bluff? You’re not alone: Even some die-hard hunters and anglers have yet to discover this luxury sporting lodge, which remained in private hands until just four years ago and features some of the most diverse hunting in the South. Today, a maximum of 40 guests enjoy its eight cabins, which are booked as an entire property, making Cabin Bluff ideal for family reunions and corporate retreats.
With access to a whopping 24,000 acres, guests can pursue quail, wild turkey, boar, and deer. That, along with top-notch guides, earned its inclusion in the Beretta Trident program, which endorses A-plus hunting properties, much as Relais & Chateaux membership denotes outstanding cuisine. Quail hunters use Beretta Over/Under shotguns and are accompanied by the lodge’s own pointers.
Panoramic views of Cumberland Island National Seashore and the Georgia coast unfold from the lodge’s deck. From the shallows, anglers use Hell’s Bay boats to pursue redfish and tarpon from July through September, or they can use Pathfinders to head 10 miles offshore to fish for grouper, snapper, and cobia.
Meals are exquisite, but they needn’t be formal: Cabin Bluff specializes in oyster roasts, served (and shucked) outdoors beneath moss-draped live oaks. $15,000 per night for fishing; $20,000 per night for hunting.
The best real estate isn't always the most expensive. There are some spectacular mountain destinations in the U.S. that haven’t yet been overrun by mega mansions. Take these five alpine getaways, which each have rustic charm and beauty—and a down-to-earth property prices. For now, at least.
Why here: Pigeon Forge, population 5,800, and nearby Gatlinburg are the gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the western side. World-class whitewater paddling and climbing, and hundreds of miles of mountain biking and hiking are all at your disposal.
What $175,000 can buy: A one-bedroom, two-bath creekside log cabin with a sleeping loft and hot tub, listed at $154,900.
Why it’s so affordable: The Pigeon Forge area, home to the Dollywood and NASCAR Speedpark amusement parks, is considered too red-necky for the urban elites of the South and Northeast, who prefer to flock to tonier Asheville, North Carolina.
Why here: The old logging town of Greenville, population 1,600, sits on largely undeveloped Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine and the crystal source of the Kennebec River. There’s no mountain town in New England with more remote, or gorgeous, surroundings.
What $175,000 can buy: A rustic, 1-bedroom, 700 square foot cottage with neighborhood access to the lake, listed at $70,000.
Why it’s so affordable: Location. The drive from Boston to Greenville is about 4.5 hours. Meanwhile, Cape Cod is 90 minutes away from Beantown, and the White Mountains and Lakes Region of New Hampshire is two hours.
Why here: Darby, population 700, near the Idaho border, in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana is sandwiched by the Bitterroot Range and Sapphire Mountains, two endless outdoor playgrounds.
What $175,000 can buy: A 1,900-square-foot, 3-bed, 2-bath getaway with broad mountain views listed at $118,000.
Why it’s so affordable: The well-heeled who buy mountain homes prefer to be closer to ski resorts. Darby is a half-hour drive down Route 93 from the nearest one—the humble Lost Trail Powder Mountain. Backcountry skiing, like on Trapper Peak in the Bitterroot Mountains, is practically just out your back door, though.
Why here: Fewer than ten miles from Big Bear Lake, Sugarloaf (population 1,800) sits at 7,000 feet in the San Bernadino Mountains of California. The region is a sports paradise—in both summer and winter.
What $175,000 can buy: A two-bedroom, one bath, 864-square foot cottage with knotty pine-paneled walls, listed at $129,900.
Why it’s so affordable: Because for the hoi polloi from Los Angeles, it’s all about zip code. If a home doesn’t have 92315 at the bottom of its address (meaning it’s in Big Bear Lake) they’re not interested.
Why here: Mount Hood is the undisputed outdoor recreation nexus for the Northwest, and the hamlets west of the summit along US 26, including Rhododendron, are natural jump-off points for adventure.
What $175,000 can buy: A 3-bedroom, 1-bath cottage on nearly a half-acre by Still Creek in the Mount Hood National Forest, listed at $117,500.
Why it’s so affordable: The actual town of Rhododendron isn’t quite as well-located as Mt. Hood Village (sandwiched by the Salmon and Sandy rivers) to the west, or Government Camp (by Summit Ski area) to the east.