Travel + Leisure

2022-06-10 20:05:49 By : Ms. Wendy Liu

Few remedies mend stress like quality time in the great outdoors, but getting back to nature doesn't require far-flung treks or bare-bones camping. Nature resorts across the U.S. pair wilderness with a touch of pampering — think on-site hot springs after a day of desert exploration and open-air massages to recover from long jaunts on the trails.

If the mountains are calling, these splendid wilderness-focused resorts could be the answer. Each getaway offers exciting adventures, jaw-dropping scenery, wellness amenities, and the ultimate natural attraction: dark, starry skies.  

Head to northern New Mexico's Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa for an immersive back-to-nature experience that includes a scenic hot spring soak. This property, tucked into otherworldly cliffs along the Ojo Caliente River, boasts one of the country's most tranquil thermal spring experiences. Guests can sleep and wake to desert views in the property's adobe homes. The splurge-worthy itineraries include vinyasas in the yoga yurt, hiking or biking the secluded high-elevation desert, and unwinding beneath the canyons at the farm-fresh Artesian Restaurant.

The adventure experts at Montana's renowned Resort at Paws Up took their nature-escape offerings up a notch with The Green O, a luxury-meets-adventure getaway tucked away on Paws Up's 37,000 woodland acres. The property offers serious nature-centered TLC, from the 12 forest-flanked Tree Haus, Round Haus, Light Haus, and Green Haus accommodations — complete with hygge-filled fireplaces — to the web of on-site trails, heart-pumping ATV tours, and scenic paddle excursions. The nightcap to any Green O adventure? Soaking beneath the stars in a private hot tub after a culinary safari in Montana's hottest new restaurant: the Social Haus.

For a once-in-a-lifetime back-to-nature adventure, it's hard to top Alaska's far-flung Sheldon Chalet, located in Denali National Park. Let's start with the superlatives. Sheldon Chalet is 10 miles from the soaring Denali summit. It's 50 miles from civilization and forever dwarfed by the colossal Don Sheldon Amphitheater peaks surrounding it. It also sits atop Ruth Glacier. With all of that, it's hardly surprising that Sheldon Chalet prioritizes outdoor adventures like ice climbing, snow-cavern spelunking, and crevasse exploration. The post-excursion unwinding is almost as extreme, with five-star dining followed by arguably the country's best northern lights shows.

Amangiri treats its guests to some of the Colorado Plateau's most jaw-dropping desert vistas. The sleek, Earth-inspired property blends seamlessly with those striking, cactus-studded surrounds, from the canyon-view stone suites to the property's new neighboring Camp Sarika tented pavilion. Amangiri delivers on that high-end Aman-brand promise — but here, luxury comes with some dirt beneath those fingernails. Heart-pumping adventures include a via ferrata, expert-guided Colorado Plateau hikes, and outings to the region's beloved national parks: Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion. Once sunset hits, prepare to be wowed by the constellations and galaxies that feel within arm's reach.

Part artist's escape, part wellness resort, Wisconsin's new Wild Rice Retreat gives guests the perfect opportunity to unwind and recenter in the calming forests of northern Wisconsin. The retreat sits on the rocky shore of Lake Superior, where steady waves provide a soothing soundtrack for on-site activities like yoga and meditation in the Peace Pod or detoxification in the sauna. Property trails offer travelers the chance to get their blood pumping in between meditation sessions, while farm-to-table outdoor dining leaves guests nourished and ready for more.

One of New England's best nature immersions awaits on Twin Farms' 300 private acres in Vermont. Here, the Green Mountains provide a backdrop that's almost as calming as the bucolic meadows the property calls home. Twin Farms, roughly 90 minutes from Burlington, features 10 tree-canopied cottages, a private nine-acre pond, and numerous hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing miles to help guests work up an appetite for those locally sourced meals. For the ultimate back-to-nature experience, take Twin Farms up on its indulgent picnic-by-the-pond offering. Or, grab a boxed lunch and enjoy it during your bike ride. Just don't miss the elegant fireside dinners in the rustic-chic Main House dining room.

Perched atop coastal California's rugged cliffs with views across the Pacific Ocean, Post Ranch Inn provides more than a Big Sur base camp. It's a mountain-meets-ocean immersion, with the entire property centered on getting guests back to nature. The 40 opulent guest rooms feature sweeping sea-view windows and patios that make Big Sur the star of the show. Meanwhile, resort experiences like falconry, morning yoga, forest meditation, and guided nature walks further integrate guests into the environs. The scenic dinners, featuring ingredients from the chef's garden, are the cherry on top of this natural California retreat.   

At Baker's Cay Resort in Key Largo, Florida, nature isn't just a nice-to-have feature; it's the property's raison d'être. This ocean-flanked escape and its panoramic balconies promise guests the kind of tranquility only teal waters can provide. Just as important: Baker's Cay offers travelers a chance to give back to the nature they're here to enjoy. The resort hosts monthly beach and underwater cleanups, and partners with 1000 Mermaids and Ocean Rescue Alliance for coral-restoration initiatives. Beyond that, guests can learn about the fragile Florida Keys ecosystems through eco-educator nature walks. This Earth-first mindset extends to the fare, too; Baker's Cay was the first U.S. resort to partner with Dock to Dish, an initiative that helps diners support small-scale and sustainable fishing communities.

Don't just visit Sedona's red rocks. Wake up to sun-splashed views of them from Amara Resort and Spa, a modern, Earth-inspired escape set along the calming Oak Creek Canyon, just two blocks from Sedona's bustling uptown. Amara's natural allures run the gamut: on-site mountain bike rentals, hot-air balloon outings, and an infinity pool with a view of the red rocks, to name a few. The property's famed SaltRock Kitchen takes its cocktails seriously, serving agave-based beverages like craft margaritas that perfectly complement those crimson backdrops.

Nature just hits differently up in Maine, and glamping getaway Terramor Outdoor Resort helps visitors make the most of it. This retreat, just 20 minutes from Acadia National Park, delivers awe-striking wilderness with a touch of luxury across its 64 canvas tents. Amenities include morning yoga, open-walled massages in the wellness tent, and adventures like birding and kayaking. Terramor's raved-about evening experiences promise the perfect recipe for refueling: campfires, live music, beer tastings, and craft s'mores — Nutella and peanut butter included.  

Get your nature fix and feel like royalty at Lake Placid's beloved Lake Placid Lodge, a posh mountain getaway in the heart of New York's Adirondacks. The lodge's digs are about as mesmerizing as the undulating scenery. Admire hand-hewn wood beams and stone fireplaces artfully crafted by local masons in one of 30 accommodations. But don't spend too much time indoors; the lodge's pristine waterfront setting provides the perfect jumping-off point for outdoor adventures. Try kayaking, boating, or fishing; for the latter, chefs will cook and prepare your fresh catch. For land-based fun, tackle the Adirondacks' trails by foot or bike. End the day with a fire-lit meal in Lake Placid Lodge's upscale Artisans restaurant.

Western Colorado's Camp V is a choose-your-own-adventure nature escape. Enjoy the desert with cozy comforts in one of the property's hip cabins. Or, get back to nature with glamping, camping, an Airstream stay, or — the latest addition — the canyon-view Jupe, a pod-like shelter crafted by designers from Tesla, Airbnb, and SpaceX. No matter the accommodation, expect outrageous desert fun. Hit Camp V's on-site pond for sunrise standup paddleboarding, then catch a trail right from your cabin or tent door. If you're feeling extra adventurous, head into Naturita for a hair-raising side-by-side (UTV) tour with Rimrocker Adventures.

There's an aura of ease that hits the second travelers cross the bridge from Lower Michigan into the Upper Peninsula — and that serenity gets kicked up a notch for those who journey all the way to the Keweenaw. The Lake Superior-flanked Keweenaw Peninsula is about as wild as the Midwest gets, and one of Michigan's northernmost resorts, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, immerses guests in this unspoiled beauty. Adventure is woven into Keweenaw Mountain Lodge's DNA. This property, part of the National Register of Historic Places, has its own web of mountain-biking and hiking trails. And, it's spearheading a movement to create the Keweenaw's first International Dark Sky Park — a particularly enticing move given this area is one of the best places to catch auroras in the lower 48 states.