California's Skylonda Lodge
Q: I like dried fruit, camping and bugs. My wife likes brie, soft beds and spas. Question: Where can we go in August where we can hike and bike by day, and have a full service resort at night?
A: I know the feelingI once had a girlfriend who loved the outdoors as long as there was an inside to go with it. During a four-day backpacking trip in Arizona she complained that she couldn't carry communal gear because her makeup case was too big! But your situation shouldn't be as frustrating, because it's possible for you both to have what you want. There are scores of great lodges around the nation that offer sweaty days on the trail and sound nights between crisp sheets. The June 2003 issue of Outside features the Papoose Creek Lodge in Montana, for one, where you can fish the cool waters of the Madison, hike through the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, and even hit Yellowstone (888-674-3030; www.papoosecreek.com). At $3,100 per couple for three days, it's not cheapbut youll definitely be pampered. Another lodge that impressed me was the Mountain Meadows Guest Ranch near Big Sky, Montana. The views of 11,150-foot Lone Peak from the pine lobby alone will knock you over. From here you can raft the Gallatin River, mountain bike hundreds of miles of trails, and hike through the Porcupine Wilderness. The ranch also offers a fly fishing clinic. (888-644-6647; www.mountainmeadowsranch.com, $330 per person per night, including all activities; $225 per person per night, excluding all activities).
I also recommend the amazing Lodge at Skylonda about an hour south of San Francisco. The place is so relaxing and downright coolthere's a spa that serves up hot stone massages and all manner of other stress-be-gone treatments; a gorgeous pool; and a gong that sounds each morning when it's time to go hikethat I still haven't stopped talking about it to friends. It sits in the Santa Cruz Mountains among towering redwoods and adjacent to nearly 45,000 acres of parkland riddled with trails. While you're there, check out the funky alien-skin-looking rock formations at Castle Rock State Park. You can hike on your own or listen as guides explain the geological features of the park, and drop little arrows on the trail to tell you which way everyone went. Bring extra dried fruit and be forewarned: combining a spa this good with excellent hiking options could mean that you and the wife will barely see each other. (800-851-2222; www.skylondalodge.com; $315-$445 per person per night, minimum two-night stay, including a one-hour spa treatment, activities, and meals).
Planning a trip of your own? [ask the AA]