The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Travel

The Best Slopeside Ski Escapes

Ski-in/ski-out can mean any number of things. Sometimes it's a cookie-cutter condo, miles up a cat road. But at its best, slopeside lodging means a cozy hideaway that translates to first dibs on a powder day. These are some of our favorites.

White Wolf Cabins

Red Mountain, British Columbia
Rossland, B.C. is one of the most underrated ski towns in the world. Red Mountain is never crowded, and it’s flush with pillow drops, steep lines, and perfectly spaced trees. The B.C. locals tend to live pretty fast and loose, so there could be squatters living in cabins on the hill, but if you want to play by the rules, the White Wolf Cabin, right at the base of the Silverlode chair, is the closest on-hill lodging. It’s also one of the nicest. The four-bedroom cabin has plenty of space, not to mention a private hot tub. Plus, you’re walking distance to Rafters, an all-time favorite après bar.

Trapper's Cabin

Beaver Creek, Colorado Beaver
Creek’s slogan is “Not Exactly Roughing It,” and nowhere is that more true than the mid-mountain Trapper’s Cabin, which sleeps 10. It’s at the top of the Strawberry Park lift, right next to the McCoy Park Nordic center, so you have access to downhill and cross-country skiing right out the door. Rental of the four-bedroom cabin includes high-elevation views of the Gore Range, snow cat rides, and an on-hand chef, cabin keeper, and "roustabout." We’re not exactly sure what the roustabout’s job entails but we’re pretty sure they’re there to prevent you from roughing it.

The Bubble House

Sainte Foy Tarentaise, France
If you’re shooting for romantic, the Bubble House might be your best slopeside option. The tiny stone cottage only sleeps two, which can be a good thing. The ancient hut has been redone, so, it feels modern, and it has a big outdoor deck for grilling and stargazing. The slopes of Sainte Foy are right outside, and Val d'Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs, and La Rosiere are all within shooting range.

Rock Springs Yurt

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is known for its lift-accessed backcountry. On sunny stable mornings, you’ll often see a long line of skiers heading out the gates at the top of the Rendezvous Peak tram. You can turn a tram lap into an overnight adventure by booking the Rock Springs Yurt. The Yurt, which is at the bottom of Rock Springs Canyon, sleeps eight, and there’s a yurtmiester on hand to feed you and stoke the stove. Before the lifts open, you can tour the terrain around the yurt.

Snowpine Lodge Alta

Alta, Utah
Lodging in Little Cottonwood Canyon is notoriously unexciting. Nothing has changed there in a really long time and options are pretty limited. But there’s been one change lately: the Snowpine Lodge at Alta. It’s the oldest hotel building in the canyon, but it had been out of operation for a while, and there are rumors that it’s haunted. In 2012 the patriarch of the Pratts, a big Mormon family, bought it as a ski house for all of his grandkids. They still show up whenever they want, but he’s decided to run it as a hotel, too. It still kind of feels like a family ski house, if your family was way more pulled together than average and had very nice sheets. Plus, the food is good, and you’re slopeside at Alta.

Morino Lodge

Hakuba, Japan
When Craig Oldring first went to Japan, 14 years ago, he was expecting to fall in love with the culture, but he didn’t realize he’d be blown away by the snowboarding, too. “I was surprised when I got to Hakuba and saw snowfall like I’d never seen back in Canada—and we’re talking BC West Coast—and the kind of terrain I’d expected to see in Alaska, not Japan. The place was epic and empty,” he says. He stayed, and, because he couldn’t just ride all the time, opened the laid back Morino Lodge. The lodge is a short walk from the Happo gondola and close to the famous Monkey Onsen, where snow monkeys hang out near the hot springs.

Cowboy Heaven Cabins

Big Sky, Montana
Montana is prime cabin country, so it makes sense that there would be awesome on-hill cabins at Big Sky. The three log cabins that make up Cowboy Heaven get you easy access to both Big Sky and Moonlight. They’re right next to the Iron Horse lift. They each have huge kitchens and private hot tubs on the deck, so you can ski right into après mode.

The Bavarian

Taos, New Mexico 
Maybe it’s the beer, but skiing has a long-standing fascination with Bavarian villages(See also: Leavenworth, WA; Vail, CO). That’s abundantly clear at The Bavarian, on the hill at Taos, at the base of the Kachina lift. The lodge, which was opened by German expat Thomas Schulze, does not shy away from beer and brats culture. Its relatively new adjoining chalets are slightly less kitchy, but still give you easy access to the bar, and the steeps of Kachina Peak.

Crystal Cabin

Crystal Mountain, Washington
Due to forest service permits, most ski resorts in the Northwest have remained relatively underdeveloped. That’s great in a lot of ways, but it means that your lodging options are limited. At Crystal Mountain, you can stay at a few private home above the Gold Hills lift, like the Crystal Cabin, which sleeps nine and has a game room and a sauna. You can ride the lift to the A-frame cabin, or skin or snowmobile in after hours.

Bode Miller's Cabin

New Hampshire
It’s not exactly slopeside, but staying in Bode Miller’s New Hampshire cabin, down the road from his home hill of Cannon Mountain, is still prime real estate. The four-bedroom cabin, which Miller’s wife Morgan is renting out through Airbnb, is built around a tree trunk, and has a huge open kitchen. It’s close to the slopes of Bretton Woods, too, and it has electricity and heat, unlike the cabin Bode grew up in. Plus—you just rented Bode Miller's cabin.

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The Top Ten Spots to Hang Ten

There are certain challenges any surfers worth their salt water have to take on. Some are blissfully isolated, others are crowded but iconic, and several lie somewhere in between. With summertime looming, what follows—in no particular order—are ten must-surf spots that will keep you busy at least until Labor Day, and possibly for the rest of your life.

Frisco and Cape Point Beaches, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

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Few places along this shifting, storm-battered strip of barrier-island sand are as pretty, or offer such a welcome combo of waves and remote escape, as Frisco—which breaks well on south swells and whose Gulf Stream–strafed waters are warmer than beaches to the north—and Cape Point, whose iconic lighthouse beach breaks on any swell. The town of Buxton offers basic services: stop at Scott Busbey’s Natural Art Surf Shop for gear, and at the Orange Blossom Bakery for apple and peach fritters. The Park Service’s Frisco campground is the most secluded, while the Cape Hatteras campground is closest to the waves. Check beforehand for beach-access restrictions, which are dictated by piping plover nesting.

Montauk, New York

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One of the most offbeat beach scenes—and some of the best waves—in the East. During the summer, the area around Montauk’s Ditch Plains teems with crusty locals, hedge fund billionaires, supermodels, fashion designers, celebrities (Jimmy Buffett and Coldplay’s Chris Martin are regulars), and visiting California pros. They’re drawn to the beautiful bluffs, the clear water, and the consistent cobblestone reefs that focus Atlantic energy into everything from mellow longboard waves to punchy beach breaks along Ditch’s inner bay. Summer weekends can be a zoo, midweek days can be pleasant, and in the off-season, Montauk’s a ghost town. Spread out to the south, aiming for the less-crowded beach breaks near Hither Hills State Park, which also has some of the most sought-after camping in the state. At Surf Bar and Surf Lodge (around $300 per night during the summer), you’ll find a perfect representation of Montauk’s interesting Malibu-meets-Manhattan vibe. 

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

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The renovation of New Smyrna’s historic Canal and Flagler streets has created a pedestrian-friendly area filled with bars, galleries, restaurants, and shops. And the empty 24 miles of beaches at the Canaveral National Seashore lie right next door. New Smyrna and the Cape’s wide-open beaches break on pretty much any swell the western Atlantic can dish out, from nor’easter-spawned groundswells, to trade wind–driven southerlies, to hurricane-generated eastern swells. The waters are warm, and you’ll find plenty of peaks to spread the crowds. This is also one of the best spots in the world to fish for snook.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

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Tahoe-blue water, 400-foot-tall dunes, and charming villages that resemble a hybrid between Cape Cod and Newfoundland make this stretch of Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula a little-known American paradise. During late summer and early fall, cold fronts churn up strong southwest-veering north winds, but the waters can still be quite warm. Join wetsuit-clad Michigan freshwater surfers in front of the Platte River Campground, or head to the protected lee of the Frankfort Jetty, 20 miles south. If the waves are flat, this whole area is simply insane for a stand-up paddleboard cruise. Either Third Coast or Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak can get you going.

Second and Third Beaches, La Push, Olympic National Park, Washington

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Wondrous coves of soaring cliffs and craggy offshore islands sacred to the adjacent Quileute Indian Nation make this a must-surf. Pick up a backcountry permit from the Olympic National Park Ranger office for $5. Camping fees are $2 per person per night, and you’ll need to either rent or bring a bear can for camping. Tip: The hike in is a little longer (1.4 versus .7 miles), but campsites along Third Beach offer privacy by way of huge boulders—and there’s a beautiful waterfall at the cove’s south end. The beach-break surf ranges from giant North Pacific monsters to head-high wind swell groomed by downsloping morning offshore winds. The water is damn cold, but the location makes it worth the hike and the paddle. 

Ogunquit Beach, Maine

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Though summertime swells come from a tropical source, you’ll be lucky to find water warmer than mid-sixties temps at the gorgeous breaks along the mouth of the Ogunquit River. The river mouth holds a long right- and short left-hand wave. If it gets crowded here, plenty of empty peaks can be found along the broad, sandy beach that runs to the north. This place can especially pump in late summer and early fall, when tropical swells and nor’easters become the norm. Local surfers talk story over morning coffee and pastries at the Village Food Market.

The Beachmere Inn is a classic, beachfront New England retreat that’s been welcoming visitors for more than 70 years. 

San Onofre State Beach, Trestles to Trails, California

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This five-mile stretch is a SoCal time warp that has some of the most consistent cobblestone reef break and sandy beach break in the state. Trestles begins just south of San Clemente, with juicy left-handers at Cotton’s Point. A few blocks south lie the more fickle Barbwires and the tapered right-handers of Upper Trestles. Another mile south, remarkable right and left A-frames make Lower Trestles one of best (and most crowded) high-performance waves on the planet. But just to the south lie the mellower and more spread-out lineups of Middles and Church’s Point. Further south is San Onofre Beach, a classic, Gidget-style “drive-on” beach replete with woodies, VW vans, barbecues, bocce ball, old-school longboarders, and very friendly vibes. For a secluded beach break, hike down Trail 3, south of the defunct San Onofre nuclear plant. San Clemente abounds in food and nightlife, while San Onofre’s San Mateo Campground is a beautiful mile-long hike or bike to the beach. 

Jalama County Park, California

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A winding 14-mile drive through vintage California ranchland drops you off at this tiny, well-run 22-acre park—one of the few public access points on 40 miles of wild and spectacular coastline. Jalama is wide-open to swells from the south to the north. Waves can range from fun, head-high beach-break peaks to the heaving reef-break A-frame bombs three-quarters of a mile south at a reef called Tarantulas. Recently, Santa Barbara County launched an online reservation system for the campground, and the beachfront campsites are heaven, with #64 offering the most seclusion. From there, it’s an easy shoreside hike down to Tarantulas—or trek northward, along an epic sweep of beach.

Waikiki, Hawaii

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Sure it’s crowded, sure it’s touristy, but just the fact that Duke Kahanamoku made this beach one of surfing’s ancestral homes means you need to catch a wave here. Waikiki’s blue-water spots break all year long, but are best on summertime south swells. Queens and Canoes are the easiest for beginners, while the farther-offshore Populars, Threes, Fours, and Kaisers are a long paddle (nearly a half-mile)—and can be filled with experienced locals. Respect for the lineup, a smile, and a greeting can go a long way toward breaking the ice and fetching you a wave. If these “town” spots are too packed, you can often find much less crowded conditions by driving east to the beaches below Diamond Head. It’s more exposed to the breezes and incredibly consistent, thanks to swells generated by the easterly trade winds. Treat yourself to a night at the Royal Hawaiian, the classic, pink landmark that dates back to 1927.

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

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The beaches around Lahaina offer year-round waves from the south and north. Right in town, the Breakwall can offer up fun beginner longboard waves on the inside and rippable-to-bombing rights and lefts on the outside, depending on the swell direction. But it can be crowded. Best summertime bets are the breaks just to the south and west of town like Launiupoko Park and Thousand Peaks, which both offer spectacular, rainbow-bathed views of the West Maui Mountains. Ten miles north of Lahaina, the fantastical, gin-clear right-handers of Honolua Bay reel off against a Tolkien-esque jungle-and-cliff backdrop. If summer trade winds blow very hard, a sneaker wind swell will wrap into Honolua, and you can catch it head-high and empty. Score an after-surf burrito at Ono Tacos.For lodging, consider Puamana, a quiet, beachfront neighborhood along Lahaina’s south side. Plenty of options are available via VRBO.

Chris Dixon is the author of Ghost Wave: The Discovery of Cortes Bank and the Biggest Wave on Earth. He’s surfed all over America, but would never drop in at Cortes Bank.

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The Best Fishing and Hunting Lodges

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.

Scarp Ridge Lodge

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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.

Firehole Ranch

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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).

Libby Camps

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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.

Tikchik Narrows Lodge

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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.

Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort

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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.

Three Forks Ranch 

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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. 

Bahia Honda Sporting Club

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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.

Honey Brake

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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.

Ruby Springs Lodge

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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.

Cabin Bluff

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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. 

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The 10 Best Surf Lodges in North America

There might be no better vacation than a surfing holiday. Water, sun, waves, and a cold one at the end of the day sound A-OK to us. Luxury hotels are increasingly beginning to feel the same way—and not just in Hawaii. If you're an East Coaster or don't have the time to make the hop to Honolulu International, you're far from out of luck. Excellent surf lodges are popping up all over the place. We sought out the very best, keeping geographical diversity in mind. We dare you to read this without daydreaming about booking a flight.

The St. Regis Princeville Resort

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Kauai, Hawaii
For a nice change of pace from the crowded, aggro scene on Oahu's North Shore, check out the St. Regis Princeville, situated directly on Hanalei Bay. The island's premier luxury hotel offers full spa services, a world-class Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed golf course, and multiple top-notch restaurants that run the gamut from laid-back bar food to near-Michelin-star-worthy dining at the Kauai Grill.

Even better, the hotel is just a few minutes up the road from Hanalei, arguably the best little surf town in the world. Head there in the evening for poke (aka Hawaiian sushi) at the Dolphin's outdoor bar, then walk down the street to the divey Tahiti Nui for one of its famously stiff mai tais.

Hanalei Bay, home to the late, great Andy Irons and big-wave legend Laird Hamilton, offers multiple surf spots, many of which are just a short paddle from the throngs of honeymooners on the St. Regis's private beach. The waves range from sandy-bottomed beginner breaks to expert-only bombs where you'd be wise to respect both the ocean and the locals. When you're done for the day, paddle back to the hotel to watch one of the most awe-inspiring sunsets you'll likely ever see.

From $490 per night.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

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Dana Point, California
Located on a 150-foot bluff overlooking Salt Creek Beach in surf-crazy Dana Point, California, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is perhaps the country's preeminent hotel when it comes to mixing luxury with a love of surfing. However, that wasn't always the case. "For years, the Ritz-Carlton tried to hide the Salt Creek surf break from its customers; they thought it was just the riffraff out there surfing, and they put up walls and stuff to block the view," explains Matt Thomson, founder of Wavecation.com. "But then a few years ago, they realized what an incredible amenity those waves were, and they set it up so the hotel has great views of the waves, and they run surf camps, and rent boards, and do family lessons and stuff. If you're a surfer, it's truly an awesome place to stay."

The hotel offers all the lux amenities and services you'd expect from a Ritz-Carlton property, including a full spa, a fitness center overlooking the Pacific, and a bevy of restaurants highlighted by Chef Richard Sandoval's Raya, which serves up fresh California seafood with pan-Latin flare.

Salt Creek is a powerful and technical break that attracts the pros when it's really going off. For the rest of us, the Ritz recommends making the five-minute trip to Doheny State Beach, where mushier waves are ideal for longboarders, groms, and other beginners.

Deluxe rooms from $595 per night.

Blockade Runner Beach Resort

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Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
The tiny island of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, has an unusually rabid surf culture owing to its consistent swells, clear water, and surprisingly high-profile contingent of surfers—such as Ben Bourgeois and the Hobgood brothers—who either call the area home or never pass up a visit there.

Swells are best during the autumn hurricane season and into the bitterly cold winter, but a beach that faces south-southeast helps ensure that tasty East Coast breakers pepper the shoreline year round.

The Blockade Runner Beach Resort is a short walk from the Wrightsville bar scene, which stays hopping thanks to tourists, thirsty locals, and college kids from nearby UNC-Wilmington. For the flat days, the hotel offers paddleboard rentals and SUP yoga classes, as well as in-room massages to keep you loose for when the swell picks back up.

From $300 per night (peak season); from $95 per night (off season).

Vintage Surfari Wagons

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California Coast
Based in Los Angeles, Vintage Surfari Wagons collects and refurbishes iconic Volkswagen Westfalia Campers and then rents them out to nostalgic adventurers, many of whom use the VWs to cruise the Pacific Coast Highway and chase their own endless summer. The campers are ideal for two, though proprietor Bill Staggs points out that the berths are big enough for two couples "as long as everybody's getting along great."

The world's your oyster when you rent a Surfari Wagon. You can cruise from Trestles to Steamer Lane if you want, stopping anywhere and everywhere in between. And though the VW Westfalia is a legendarily finicky vehicle, thanks in no small part to an underpowered engine and a decidedly nonaerodynamic shape, have no fear. Vintage Surfari Wagons has an army of mechanic friends up and down the coast who specialize in Volkswagens, and the company is dedicated to making sure you have the best surfari possible.

From $1050 per week, seven day minimum.

Cabo Surf Hotel

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Los Cabos, Mexico
For south-of-the-border action on the wave-rich Baja coast, Wavecation.com's Thomson wholeheartedly recommends Cabo Surf Hotel in Los Cabos, Mexico. "This is just a classic, classic surf lodge," he says. "There's an incredible pool with a restaurant and bar right above the surf break. Your wife could be at the bar sipping a margarita, and you could be out in the lineup and wave to her."

The hotel has its own board-rental shop and hosts the Mike Doyle Surf School, which offers group, semiprivate, and one-on-one instruction. Three different breaks are in the immediate vicinity, including Old Man's, recommended for beginners and longboarders, and La Roca and Zippers, which are a bit more advanced. Prime surf season runs from March to November, but the hotel's beaches see waves suitable for beginners all year long.

From $265 per night.

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore

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Santa Barbara, California
Cradled between Butterfly Beach on the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the Spanish Colonial–style Four Seasons doesn't fool around when it comes to catering to the surf-hungry crowd. For $1,500 a day, you can hang with local boy and three-time world champ Tom Curren, who will personally pick you up, scope out the local surf spots—including world-class point break Rincon—and spend the day surfin' USA with you, provided you can keep up.

Refuel poolside at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, which dates from 1937. Try a local wine; Santa Barbara is knowm for its pinot noir.

From $545 per night.

Tatchu Adventures Eco Surf Village

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Vancouver Island, Canada
If you're allergic to crowded lineups, amenable to cold water, and don't necessarily want five-star treatment back at the lodge, Tatchu Adventures Eco Surf Village on Vancouver Island might be the place for you. Billing itself as "the only wilderness surf camp in Canada," the resort consists of 5,000 feet of boardwalk that wind around treehouses, a sauna, biomass outhouses, and a main lodge.

Be warned, this ain't exactly the Four Seasons—the village's website boasts electricity as an amenity—but it is a bona fide adventure, complete with rainforest hikes, slabby storm waves, gentler point and beach breaks, and the truly awesome natural surroundings of the Canadian west coast. Boards and wetsuits are provided, as are the services of surf guide Raphael Bruhwiler, who will make sure you get the most out of the occasionally tricky tidal waters surrounding the island.

From $1,185 for three nights.

Surf Studio Beach Resort

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Cocoa Beach, Florida
The Florida surf scene is defined by often-mushy waves that ironically produce some of the best surfers in the world—the most famous of whom is, of course, Kelly Slater. The 11-time ASP World Tour champ hails from Cocoa Beach, one of the best places in the state to paddle out. The Surf Studio Beach Resort is perhaps the best place in town for Sunshine State surfers to stay. The low-key, family-owned, beachfront hotel is right on the water and offers board rentals. The most quality surfing is found by the Cocoa Beach Pier, which fares best during southeasterly wind chops or nor'easters.

Other Cocoa Beach surf attractions include Ron Jon's, currently the largest surf shop in the world. The Cocoa Beach Surf Museum documents the history of East Coast surfing, and of course Slater himself, who still lives there. Just don't be surprised if he snakes your wave. He's earned it.

From $115 per night.

The Cottages at Cape Kiwanda

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Pacific City, Oregon 
Although it's not always mentioned as a surfing hotspot, the rugged and majestic Oregon coastline has some of the best waves you'll find on the mainland. The beaches of Pacific City are some of the most accessible in the state and feature two surf spots: the consistent, mellow, year-round rollers at Kiwanda Cove, and the faster, more powerful waves at ominously named Kiwanda Gas Chambers. 

The best place to stay in Pacific City is the Cottages at Cape Kiwanda, a collection of two- and three-bedroom oceanfront suites that rival five-star hotels with their amenities. Each cottage features a private deck with a grill and ocean views, heated tile floors, and a fireplace. The kitchens are outfitted with the very best cooking gear, so after you surf, you can whip up a feast of that famous Oregonian seafood without leaving the privacy of your own pad. Even better, some of the cottages are pet friendly, so you won't have to send Fido to the slammer for the weekend. Everybody wins. 

From $329 per night.

The Surf Lodge

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Montauk, New York
Montauk has always been an East Coast surfing hotspot, thanks mostly to Ditch Plains, a classic rock-bottomed longboarding break that occasionally serves up as fast and hollow a wave as you'll find in the region. In recent years, the sleepy fishing town has undergone a bit of a renaissance and emerged as a vacation destination on par with its glitzier cousins to the west, the Hamptons.

At the forefront of this resurgence is a handful of chic hotels, perhaps the best of which is the Surf Lodge. New York City nightlife impresario Jayma Cardoso reopened the faux-divey hotel in 2012, offering all the energy of a typical Manhattan bottle-service club but with a beachy twist. The bar scene can get wild during the summer, so if you're looking for meditative peace and quiet, try elsewhere—but if you want to shred all day and party all night with the young and beautiful, the Surf Lodge is hard to beat. A parade of well-known indie bands keeps the back deck jumping while Byron, an on-site Australian-themed restaurant serves up seafood specialties such as steamed fluke and diver-caught scallops. Your seat overlooks Fort Pond Bay, where you can paddle all the way to downtown on one of the hotel's complimentary stand-up paddleboards.

From $295 per night.

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