7 Great Camps and Remote Lodges Across the United States

Be it a lodge in the Adirondacks or a hot springs resort in an old Colorado mining town, these upscale refuges will make any outdoor adventure more luxurious.

Stone exterior of Yosemite's Ahwahnee resort

At the Ahwahnee, which will complete major renovations in 2024, rooms come with views of Yosemite’s most famous sites, including Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls.

Photo by Jesslyn Tan Yu Xuan/Shutterstock

Stone fireplaces and Pendleton blankets. Hot drinks and hotter springs. Solitude and starry nights. These are a few of our favorite things, conjured in the dead of night on our last camping trip when a few more creature comforts felt necessary. With that in mind, we rounded up several of the Great Camps and remote luxury lodges across the United States to inspire your next big outdoor adventure—no matter the season. Some are historic; some only a few years old. One is on a glacier. All will leave you wanting more.

The Ahwahnee

interior of the dining room at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite with soaring wood-beamed ceilings and huge windows

Reopened at the end of 2023 after seismic upgrades, the legendary dining room at the Ahwahnee has 34-foot ceilings, dramatic chandeliers, wooden beams, and gargantuan windows.

Photo by Kit Leong/Shutterstock

  • Location: Yosemite National Park, California
  • Why we love it: The location of this Yosemite icon offers easy access to and views of famous sites such as Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.
  • Book now

The nearly 100-year-old Ahwahnee is currently undergoing a major transformation thanks to a $31.6 million grant through the Great American Outdoors Act to upgrade this national park grande dame. The kitchen and dining room already reopened at the end of 2023, and other updates including new heating and air-conditioning, and other infrastructure improvements will be wrapped up by the end of 2024.

Travelers benefit from a wide range of room configurations as well as cottages that can accommodate multiple guests—there are 97 guest rooms and 24 cottages. And they will also be in the heart of the action, with little to no driving needed once parked at the hotel, which is within walking distance of Yosemite Village and several coveted hiking trails, including Yosemite Falls and Cook’s Meadows Loop.

It’s not easy to score a reservation, especially during high season, but if you do, be sure to save time to take a dip in the heated pool (open as of April 15, 2024), biking around the valley, and bopping around between various nearby river beaches and watering holes for a dip and rock skipping.

Although it is one of AFAR’s favorite Yosemite lodges for families, be advised that the famed dining room is a more formal affair. “If you have smaller kids who are still pretty antsy, you may want to save that experience for when the kids are a bit older,” says Michelle Baran, AFAR’s deputy news editor and mother of two small kids.

Sheldon Chalet

Aerial view of small Sheldon Chalet on Ruth Glacier, surrounded by snow and mountains

Sheldon Chalet sits right on top of Ruth Glacier in Alaska.

Photo by Totem Ent

  • Location: Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Why we love it: The glacier hikes, outstanding food, and helicopter rides are all memorable parts of the experience, but waking up with Denali outside your bedroom window is the biggest thrill of all.
  • Book now

In 1966, bush pilot Don Sheldon built a small, rustic cabin on this remote spot atop the 6,000-foot-high Ruth Glacier in Denali National Park—a region that was once only accessible to extreme adventurers. In 2018, his descendants added the all-season Sheldon Chalet. A feat of ingenuity and the only luxury lodge in Denali, it offers stunning views of the aurora borealis in winter, the midnight sun in summer, and the soaring peak of Mount Denali at any time of year. “This could be the unlikeliest place for a hotel in the United States,” writes Alex Schechter in his review of Sheldon Chalet.

With only five rooms, the property can accommodate 10 guests at a time and is accessible by helicopter from Anchorage or Talkeetna. Clever design features such as a high-efficiency fireplace that doubles as a clean-energy heating system make the interiors feel elegant and keep the carbon footprint small. In “Adventure Season,” from May to August, guests can trek across the Ruth Glacier, explore its crevasses, and rappel down its icy walls, while in “Aurora Season,” from September to April, moonlit glacier treks, snow cavern spelunking, or helicopter adventures to nearby hot springs are a few of the main activities.

“The chalet, at 63º N latitude, is removed from all signs of life. There is no TV, no cell phone service, and no Wi-Fi. It’s 50 miles to the nearest town, over land that is largely impassable on foot. There are no roaming moose, no flocks of birds, no vegetation. You are entirely surrounded by snow, rock, and ice,” says Schechter.

Evenings are spent warming up in the rooftop sauna, stargazing, sampling innovative meals, and basking in the utter silence.

Dunton Hot Springs

Exterior of Dunton Hot Springs cabins at night in the snow

Even in the dead of winter, Dunton Hot Springs remains a cozy place to stay.

Courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs

  • Location: Dunton, Colorado
  • Why we love it: The snowy mountains and steaming hot springs set against the backdrop of an abandoned former mining town call to us on numerous levels.
  • Book now

Located in southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains along the Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs is a collection of 15 cabins originally from a 1800s mining town that have been restored as guest rooms. Regardless of which cabin you choose, you’ll have mountain and meadow views for days.

Also one of AFAR’s favorite hot spring resorts, the property has a 19th-century bathhouse and natural mineral springs that are rich in iron, manganese, and calcium bicarbonate and that range in temperature from 85 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Guests can go for a dip in the bathhouse, in the two outdoor pools, in the more natural setting at the source of the springs, or—if they book the Well House cabin—in their own private hot spring bath and cold plunge pool.

All meals are included in the nightly rate and are served in the old saloon at the heart of the property. (Look closely at the wooden bar and you’ll see where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid carved their initials.)

The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection

Floor-to-ceiling windows leading to deck and view of trees at a Creek House

The Creek Houses are located on the banks of Alexander Creek.

Courtesy of the Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection

  • Location: Park City, Utah
  • Why we love it: The remote setting fully immerses guests in the American West.
  • Book now

Part of AFAR’s 2020 best new hotels list, the Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection is located about a 25-minute drive from Park City deeper into Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range. The lodge features 19 minimalist one- and two-bedroom rooms and suites inside the main building. A separate structure features 16 one-bedroom Earth Suites with fireplaces and outdoor terraces and showers; it offers the possibility to connect two or more rooms for families. There are also five adults-only, freestanding Creek Houses along Alexander Creek. The neutral-hued homes are outfitted with king beds and leather-covered chaise longues; some have large private verandas with firepits.

Meanwhile, the outdoors await, with seasonal activities like fly-fishing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and skiing. In addition, there’s a 1.5-acre farm, and the horse stables are home to the Saving Gracie Horse Foundation, founded in 2014 as a rescue sanctuary for abused and abandoned horses. This lodge is also one of AFAR’s picks for a family-friendly Wild West adventure: The Little Vaquero’s Kids Camp allows kids ages 5 to 12 to help with the farm, groom horses, and take part in activities that include treasure hunts and yoga.

Post Ranch Inn

Interior of Cliff House guest room at Post Ranch Inn, with lit fireplace and floor-to-ceiling window views of the Pacific

The Cliff House guest room at Post Ranch Inn has expansive views of the Pacific Ocean from this remote setting.

Photo by Kodiak Greenwood

  • Location: Big Sur, California
  • Why we love it: This romantic adults-only retreat is also one of California’s most sustainable hotels.
  • Loyalty program: I Prefer
  • Book now

Note: Due to a Highway 1 closure north of Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn is temporarily unavailable for stays through April 23, 2024.

For more than 30 years, the Post Ranch Inn, which sits along a cliff 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean, has been a go-to retreat for devotees who believe well-being starts with a place that honors its natural environment—and treads lightly on it, too. Big Sur architect Mickey Muennig designed the 40 guest rooms that rely on solar power; all were fashioned out of recycled wood, and the structures blend in with the Santa Lucia Mountains. Views through enormous windows face either the Pacific Ocean or the mountains.

“Unlike most ‘luxury’ hotels, we don’t have televisions in the room because nature is the show,” managing partner Mike Freed told AFAR contributor Annie Fitzsimmons in 2021. Instead, it offers reflexology treatments, a doctor-led sleep program, as well as private guided hikes and meditation sessions in the nearby ancient forests. Food and wine are also essential parts of the guest experience, and a two-acre chef’s organic garden provides 40 percent of the restaurant’s fruits and vegetables, depending on the season.

Captain Whidbey Inn

Log cabin style common space at the lodge at Captain Whidbey Inn with green couches

Over a century old, the main lodge at Captain Whidbey Inn is built from madrona and fir logs.

Photo by Alexandra Ribar

  • Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
  • Why we love it: This century-old inn has been lovingly restored using local designers.
  • Book now

With its tranquil maritime charm, Whidbey Island, a two-hour car and ferry ride from Seattle, feels like a local’s secret. The main lodge at the restored 117-year-old Captain Whidbey Inn—set on the famous-for-its mussels Penn Cove—was built from madrona and fir logs and has a large stone fireplace; the 12 upstairs rooms recently got a gentle refresh when it reopened in 2019.

“The real draw, though, is a group of four stand-alone cabins—each designed by a different creative business from the Pacific Northwest,” says Aislyn Greene in her review in AFAR’s 2020 best new hotels list. “Edit, a modern home store in the town of Langley owned by David Price, curated its airy cabin with textile art from fabric designer Marcia Derse.

The inn shines in the summer. “But I visited in the winter and loved it,” says Greene of the all-seasons retreat. “The inn was quieter and decked out for the holidays. At night, I could cozy up in front of the lobby fireplace with a book and a cocktail and, in the morning, cozy up in front of my cabin’s fireplace with a book and a cup of local brew.”

The Point

Large wooden room at the Point with buffalo plaid couches, chandeliers, and stone fireplaces

The Point stretches over 75 acres of Saranac Lake shorefront in upstate New York.

Courtesy of the Point

  • Location: Saranac Lake, New York
  • Why we love it: A chance to experience Gilded Age luxury in a historic Great Camp built by a Rockefeller.
  • Book now

For one of AFAR’s favorite NYC getaways, drive about six hours north to spend the weekend at a historic “Adirondack Great Camp” in the six-million-acre state park. During the early 20th century, industrial behemoths of the Gilded Age vacationed in the Adirondack Mountains, where they built mansion-like log cabins decorated with granite fireplaces and furniture crafted from branches.

Today, you can stay in a number of these lodges, including the Point, a Great Camp built by William Avery Rockefeller on 75 acres of Saranac Lake shorefront nearly a century ago. More recently, it underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2018. It’s not exactly the kind of place that invites you to pop in for a drink and a look around. There’s no signage off Route 30 for this plush Relais & Châteaux resort, and upon reaching the end of the five-mile, single-lane entry road through the woods, you arrive at a closed gate and a no-nonsense sign in all caps: “THE POINT IS RESERVED FOR GUESTS ONLY . . . NO VISITORS.”

Yet beyond that gate is a luxurious all-inclusive retreat that’s full of antique furnishings, fine art, and a staff ready to attend to your every whim. (They’ll even fetch you from the airport if you arrive by private plane, as many guests do.) It’s also a surprisingly intimate haven, with only 11 rooms, each with a lake view and a fireplace.

Michelle Baran, Julia Eskins, Serena Renner, Annie Fitzsimmons, Aislyn Greene, Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, and Alex Schechter contributed additional reporting to this article.

This article was originally published in 2021; it was updated on April 16, 2024, with current information.

Laura Dannen Redman is Afar’s editor at large. She’s an award-winning journalist who can’t sit still and has called Singapore, Seattle, Australia, Boston, and the Jersey Shore home. She’s based in Brooklyn with her equally travel-happy husband and daughters.
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