The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Travel

Summer Camps for Grownups

You've styled your child with an enviable lineup of outdoor camps, slotted in some action-packed adventure festivals for the whole family. Now Mama (or Papa) needs a little solo play time. Fortunately it doesn't take much to recharge. All you need for DIY adventure is 36 hours and a multisport destination a couple hours' drive from home. Or let someone else do the planning and sign on with one of summer's best new guided retreats guaranteed to recapture the sweet freedom you took for granted before the kids came along. Sign up now for mid- to late-summer adventures, and you'll still have the time—and a fresh surge of energy—to pull off that family camping trip and set your little ones loose on spontaneous backyard adventures before school's back in session.

 

Run Wild Retreats

July 17-20; Aspen, Colorado
If you shy away from Strava, hate wearing a heart-rate-monitor, and just want to run well and feel great doing it, then this four-day holistic trail running retreat in the wilderness outside of Aspen is for you. Blending mindfulness practice, yoga for runners, and plant-based nutrition, the camp—led by running and health coach Elinor Fish—is a stellar primer on how to run mindfully for maximum health, for life. With daily guided trail runs ranging from four to 12 miles (no prior trail experience is necessary), cooking demos on how to fuel and recover with whole foods, yoga classes, and gait assessment, you'll come away with a new vision for how running smarter can increase your energy and reduce your stress, and feel good every time. $697; two-day mini retreat, $397.

 

 

River Rites

 

September 15-20; Cataract Canyon, Utah
Wilderness travel is transformative, but sometimes the epiphanies you have in the backcountry lose their focus as soon you get home. This six-day raft trip through Cataract Canyon, in Canyonlands National Park, is intended to be a modern-day rite of passage to help renew your sense of purpose, empower you to action in the world, release you from stagnation and make lasting change—for both the planet and also yourself.

"Traditional wilderness rites of passage were designed to knit together generations and to prepare for transitions in life," explains Stacy Peterson, a yoga instructor and hypnotherapist, who is co-leading the trip with an eco-psychologist and a climate justice activist. "Because we don't have these opportunities to mark transitions in our lives, we no longer take the time to slow down, deeply reflect, and reset the course of where we want to go."

The expedition through one of West's most stunning, and remote—and imperiled—river corridors incorporates daily yoga and meditation practice, cleansing food, as well as that most rare and restorative perk of all: silence. Out of range from cell phones and schedules, you'll hike into the iconic sandstone spires of the Doll House, in the remote Maze district of the park, and splash down Cataract's Class IV rapids, pulling out of your own busy life and immersing yourself deep into your own true nature. $1199.

 

Rio Chama Photo Workshop

August 22-26; Rio Chama, New Mexico
Ever wish you could take better photographs while in the backcountry? This five-day raft and photo expedition on the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico offers an intensive dose of both photography instruction and wilderness immersion. Led by The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops—widely regarded as the best in the country, now in its 25th year—the trip launches with a three-day, 33-mile float down the Wild & Scenic Rio Chama, the old stomping grounds of Georgia O'Keefe, Ansel Adams, and Elliot Porter. Under the tutelage of veteran lensman Tony Bonanno (and boatmen from New Mexico River Expeditions) you'll spend your days floating the Class II-III rapids, hiking to hot springs and slot canyons, and photographing the thousand-foot sandstone walls, the meandering high desert river, and the stately ponderosa that line the banks. Back at the Workshop's lab in Santa Fe for the final two days, learn the ins and outs of digital processing and printing on Adobe. You'll be all but guaranteed to come home with stellar expedition photos and the know-how to capture your next trip with equal aplomb. $995.

 

 

Make Friends with Fear Workshop

August 1-3; Hammondsport, New York
Former pro skier and Zen therapist Kristen Ulmer has been running Ski to Live camps each winter in Alta, Utah, and around the West for years. What she's discovered in her experience with mindset coaching is that "whether we realize it or not, fear runs everybody's life, even if you don't feel afraid." This three-day retreat at Red-Tail Overlook B+B in the Finger Lakes region is designed to help you change your relationship with fear, to stop treating it like a hindrance and turn it into an ally to create momentum and growth in your life—whether it's in sports, parenting, business, or creativity. Instead of making you walk over hot coals or dangle from high ropes courses ("we don't do that," assures Ulmer), she'll help clients shift into the next level of consciousness while hiking the rolling, wooded trails along Keuka Lake, facilitating creative role playing, and sharing ancient wisdom stories. If it sounds a little out there, the former champion athlete is one of the most respected sports mindset coaches in the field—she's the real deal. Says Ulmer, "If you turn fear into an asset, it will set you free." From $625; two-day fear camp in Salt Lake City, July 19-20, $190. 

 

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The Best Meditation Retreats in the U.S.

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.

Shambhala Mountain Center 

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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.

Travaasa

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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.

The Standard Spa

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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.

Rolling Meadows Retreat

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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.

Miraval Resort and Spa

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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.

Stillpoint Lodge

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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.

Canyon Ranch

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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.

The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa

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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.

The Esalen Institute

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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.

Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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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.

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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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