Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
With so many great guest houses out there, it wasn’t easy to decide which were worthy of making our list of the world's best adventure lodges. In the end, we weighed the location, amenities, outdoor access, architecture, style, and so much more to cull our list candidates. So what did it take to make the final cut? Everything. From paragliding over the Dolomites and paddleboarding around deserted Panamanian isles to farm-to-table feasts and Finnish-style saunas, these lodges have it all. Time to check in.
Puerto Natales, Chile
The design of this 72-room lodge in Chilean Patagonia is almost as dramatic as the landscape that surrounds it. Slanted steel-and-glass walls mimic the iconic wind-bullied sheep-shearing sheds endemic to the country’s Magallanes region. But getting outside is why you travel all the way to Puerto Natales, the gateway to 700-square-mile Torres del Paine National Park. Spend one day hiking 12 miles round-trip to the base of the park’s famous 8,500-foot granite spires and another stalking fat brown trout along the Río Prat. Or paddle the waters of Last Hope Fjord in a kayak, then send the 30 private sport-climbing routes the lodge put up on its own secluded cliffs. Before a king crab dinner, hit the indoor pool or Finnish-style sauna, housed in a building purposefully set a three-minute walk away. Why? So you can feel the wind and rain first. From $280 —Tim Neville
Adler Lodge Alpe
South Tyrol, Italy
Surrounded by the toothy spires of Italy’s Dolomites, the Adler offers some of the best adventure access in Europe. It’s located on the Alpe di Siusi plateau, a carless Unesco World Heritage site that’s accessible only by foot, skis, or cable car unless you’re staying at the lodge. In summer, head out on guided hikes, like the eight-mile Witch’s Path, which winds through green foothills and alpine meadows. Other options: grab a loaner hardtail and hit the nearby singletrack or paraglide over the iconic 8,400-foot Schlern massif with Tandem Fly. In winter, explore Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park on skis, or ice-climb Vallunga Valley’s 18 routes. That is, if you can drag yourself away from the lodge and its floor-to-ceiling window views, sauna, saltwater pool, and gourmet meals eaten under the stars with a glass of Montalcino in hand. From $235, all-inclusive —Nick Davidson
The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Rent your own slice of southern charm at Little St. Simons, a private 11,000-acre barrier island with an unpretentious collection of five cottages and one lodge. More Southern Gothic than tropical, the landscape is dominated by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, rugged dunes, and seven miles of private beach. You can book a room or cottage or blow it out by reserving the whole resort. With a limit of only 32 guests at a time, you’re almost guaranteed solitude as you walk the trails, comb the beach, or fish for flounder and red drum. Naturalists are on hand to take you birding and kayaking along the tidal waters and teach you about the local population of nesting loggerhead turtles. Better yet, everything is included, from the bicycles to the Low Country shrimp boils. From $425 —Graham Averill
Don’t dismiss these pop-up wilderness retreats as just another glamping getaway. Private decks with Adirondack chairs, Pendleton blanket-adorned beds, and en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets and rain-style showers make these canvas tents more of a mobile private lodge. Locations include Big Sky, Montana, the Texas Hill Country, and even New York City’s Governors Island. But our favorite venue is situated on 1,000 acres of working ranchland just outside Vail, where guests can explore White River National Forest , take in views of the Sawatch Range on horseback, and raft whitewater on the Upper Colorado. Hiking and biking trails are right outside your tent. Nearby hot springs, campfire s’mores, and chef-crafted farm-to-table fare are motivation to trek or ride a few extra miles. From $500 —Jen Murphy
Waynesville, North Carolina
The hardest part about staying at this 250-acre southern oasis , perched atop its own mile-high grassy peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, may be convincing yourself to leave. Fill your days with croquet, treehouse picnics, and hammock sessions. Or hike straight from the property into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Join a guide in search of bears and birds, or head into the Cataloochee Valley at dusk to see elk milling around the park’s meadows. The Swag will pack your lunch and have afternoon tea waiting when you return. Save room for dinner—big plates of regional fare like local trout, cast-iron fried chicken, and banana-pudding pie—then savor the evening views from your room’s copper soaking tub. You even get a personalized hiking stick to take home. From $525 —G.A.
Surfers Lodge Peniche
When former Swedish national surf champion John Malmqvist outgrew beach camping and hostels, he started dreaming up the ultimate surf stay. The result, Surfers Lodge Peniche, feels more like a home than a hotel. Located an hour north of Lisbon, just outside the small city of Peniche, the space marries Scandinavian aesthetics with 1960s California beach vibes. The in-house school caters to all abilities. First-timers work on pop-ups at nearby Baleal Beach, while experienced riders get barreled at Supertubos, a World Surf League tour stop just ten minutes away. Back at the lodge, follow up your session with a massage, yoga, and vegetarian-focused organic meals. On Sundays everyone heads up to the Moroccan-inspired roof deck to listen to DJ sets and soak in the sunset from the Jacuzzi. From $57 —J.M.
Vermejo Park Ranch
Raton, New Mexico
Spread across 585,000 acres straddling the New Mexico–Colorado border, Vermejo Park Ranch is so massive that even its veteran guides estimate they’ve seen only 60 percent of the property. Ted Turner purchased the land in 1996 and fondly refers to it as his private Yellowstone. It can be yours, too, as a splurge. Accommodations include private guesthouses; the 12-room Casa Minor, built in the early 1900s; and the Costilla Lodge, a large log-and-stone cabin located at 10,200 feet. Or stay in the media mogul’s former personal residence, Casa Grande, an estate of Gatsby-esque grandeur. But the real luxury? The southern Rockies just outside your door. Home to elk, bison, antelope, black bears, coyotes, and more than 180 species of birds, Vermejo is the closest you’ll come to a big-game safari in the U.S. Instead of 20 tourist-loaded cars bearing down on one poor bison, you’re likely to be surrounded by a herd while hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. From $850, meals included –J.M.
Islas Secas Reserve and Lodge (From $1,000, All-Inclusive)
Isla Cavada, Panama
With parts of Costa Rica overrun with tourists and Nicaragua working to recover from recent unrest, Panama is poised to be the next great Central American hot spot. This new sustainable adventure outpost on Cavada, a 400-acre island in the Pacific’s Gulf of Chiriquí, is one of its crown jewels. Hike a couple of miles through the dense jungle, SUP or kayak the calm leeward bays of the resort’s private 14-island archipelago, float in a secluded plunge pool, or lounge on empty beaches—the lodge has nine casitas and only hosts up to 18 people at once. It also has its own dive center with on-site instructors, so even novice guests can explore the gulf, which is filled with manta rays, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, leatherback turtles, and teeming coral reefs. Finally, boat into the big blue to catch-and-release monster tuna and marlin in the world-renowned Hannibal Bank and off Isla Montuosa. From $1,000, all-inclusive –Stephanie Pearson
Denali Backcountry Lodge
Denali National Park, Alaska
Best For: Mountain views and digital detoxing
The journey to Denali Backcountry Lodge is an adventure in itself. It’s accessed by either a six-hour bus ride deep into five-million-acre Denali National Park, or via a 35-minute air-taxi flight from the park entrance over the snowcapped Alaska Range. Once you’ve checked in to one of its 42 log cabins—nestled alongside Moose Creek by an old gold-mining camp—let the rugged wilderness engulf you. There’s no TV or cell service. Naturalists lead botanical walks and day hikes through the nearby trailless tundra, while you keep an eye out for caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and blond grizzlies. Or explore the endless backcountry on your own. Just be sure to pack a can of bear spray in your day bag. Our favorite excursion? Cycling five miles to Wonder Lake, where you’ll score the park’s best view of 20,310-foot Denali gleaming pearly white in the midnight sun. From $545, meals included –N.D.
Chem Chem Lodge
Best For: Game viewing and Giving Back
Sandwiched between two national parks, this safari camp provides unparalleled access to Africa’s big game. It’s located along an ancient migration corridor, where herds of giraffes, elephants, zebras, and gazelles pass by to forage the plains of Tarangire. The lodge is a collection of breezy tent villas, and all visitor profits are funneled into community-based projects, like anti-poaching efforts and skills training for locals to help reduce human-animal conflict. You can participate, too, by bringing children’s clothes and classroom supplies in your luggage and stopping by a Chem Chem–sponsored school during your stay. The owners also have two properties nearby: Little Chem Chem, on a 40,000-acre private preserve, and the smaller Forest Chem Chem, which offers three vintage tents beneath fever trees on the Tarangire River. From $920, meals, activities, and conservations fees included —G.A.
Tofino, British Columbia
Best For: Surfing and storm watching
Just 25 minutes north of the 198-square-mile Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, this 75-room lodge on Vancouver Island embraces B.C.’s turbulent weather. In addition to ocean views, each room comes with hurricane-rated glass to better withstand the stunning tempests that roll in from across the Pacific. Don the inn’s complimentary rain slickers and boots, and step outside for a free “West Coast facial,” or head to the Ancient Cedars Spa for treatments based on indigenous cleansing ceremonies. On clearer days, walk the 13 beaches that line the seal-and-eagle-flecked coast, or make your way 25 miles south to the village of Ucluelet for a short hike to the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse, a linebacker of concrete and steel that defies the storm-whipped swells that assail it each winter. The island has plenty of good surf breaks, including Cox Bay Beach, just minutes from the inn. Afterward, refuel with a meal of drippingly fresh steelhead salmon. From $260 —T.N.
Lone Mountain Ranch
Big Sky, Montana
Best For: Nordic skiing, yoga, and Yellowstone access
Sitting on 150 acres in Custer Gallatin National Forest, this former cattle farm, founded in 1915, keeps 52 miles of trails meticulously groomed for cross-country skiing. Routes meander from your door up 2,000 feet through pine forests and alpine meadows and offer stunning views of 11,145-foot Lone Mountain, home to the Big Sky Resort. Many of the lodge’s 27 log cabins have wood stoves or 1920s-era stone fireplaces. Meanwhile, chef Eric Gruber, of the Horn and Cantle restaurant, knows how to feed starving skiers, whipping up three nour-ishing daily meals, like homemade pappardelle with elk meatballs. Take a break from nordic skiing and head into the backcountry of nearby Yellowstone or ride the lifts at Big Sky, 12 minutes away. Not into snow? Visit in the warmer months to hike, horseback ride, fly-fish, whitewater raft, or enjoy a weeklong meditation and yoga retreat. From $375 —S.P.
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