It’s the ultimate summer vacation: unplugging in the great outdoors, with stunning natural scenes providing the perfect backdrop and larger-than-life activities entertaining the entire family from dawn to dusk, as needed. These are the best destinations for wilderness vacations that offer ultimate adventures—as well as luxury, off-the-beaten path—at up-and-coming properties and our all-time favorite lodges. If you’re already thinking ahead to next summer or just looking for your next escape, plan a trip now to one of these amazing, remote retreats.
From Big Sky, Montana to the Grand Canyon, the American West is an iconic destination for a wilderness escape full of hiking and biking in top national parks, horseback riding at stylish dude ranches, Wild West nostalgia and patriotic fun.
WHERE TO STAY: BEST FOR FLY-FISHING
If you loved the Ranch at Rock Creek, add Taylor River Lodge to your list. One of the latest creations from the adventure-focused hotel company Eleven Experience, this Colorado lodge has an undeniable authenticity and sense of place (it runs along the bubbling Taylor River and is surrounded by pine trees). Fly-fishing is the main attraction here, but the property’s all-inclusive program also features hiking, white-water rafting and kayaking, as well as delicious meals, chic cabin accommodations, a spa and a saltwater pool.
Related: Indagare Matchmaker: Dude Ranches
In the words of Indagare trip designer Sasha Feldman, who recently scouted America’s 49th state: “The single most fitting word to describe Alaska is epic.” Few other places on earth are home to such a wide variety of dramatic landscapes: here, travelers can heli-ski in the morning, have a picnic lunch on a glacier and salmon fish in the afternoon. Best of all, this ecological wonderland is raw, remote and astonishingly untouched.
WHERE TO STAY: BEST FOR HELI-TOURING
Nestled in 1 million acres of state-protected forests on Finger Lake, Winterlake Lodge is an intimate, tranquil property with simple but comfortable cabins and an enthusiastic staff, who guide activities like heli-skiing, bear viewing, dog sledding and glacier hiking. Meanwhile, further north, those seeking an über-remote experience will be dazzled by Sheldon Chalet. Built on the only private concession in the mountains of Denali National Park, the Chalet offers unparalleled access to the summit of Denali (and incredible views). Due to the remote location, there’s no access to cell service or WiFi—allowing guests to fully immerse themselves in the property’s elevated cuisine, fascinating history and wealth of adventure activities.
Related: Ten to Know: Alaska
Chilean Patagonia is famous for its bright-blue glacial lakes, plentiful wildlife and snow-capped peaks, so it’s no surprise that the destination tops the list for most outdoor junkies—but the excursions, which range from trekking to fly-fishing and horseback riding on a working estancia, are varied enough to please travelers of all ages and interests.
WHERE TO STAY: BEST FOR HIKING
Only 25 minutes from Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia offers luxurious yet environmentally-conscious rooms with stunning views of the Massif (mountain range) from every window. The property’s private concession stretches to the picture-perfect Lake Sarmiento and is home to puma, condors and guanaco, and guests can visit nearby estancias for scenic horseback rides. For a more remote experience, travelers should not miss the Awasi property, located on a private concession further north.
Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world, and if it weren’t for the occasional herd of elephants, a traveler here might think she was on Mars. Often described as Africa’s final frontier, the landscape consists mostly of desert, sand dunes and huge open spaces—ideal for hiking, driving ATVs, hot air ballooning and tracking big game like lions, rhinos, cheetahs and giraffes.
WHERE TO STAY: BEST FOR FAR-FLUNG ADVENTURE
Namibia’s brand-new luxury property, The Nest at Sossus (which is now taking select reservations for Indagare members), is unlike any other safari lodge in Africa, thanks to its intimate size and unique design. Modeled after the labyrinthine nest of the desert’s “Sociable Weaver” bird, The Nest is a private villa-style property that accommodates a group of up to eight guests. Just a 45-minute drive from the gate of the protected Sossusvlei pan, The Nest offers exclusive access for game walks and drives with expert guides, a private pool, scenic flights and hot air balloon tours, a private butler and a gourmet chef. In between activities, you can soak in the modern interiors and lounge spaces of the villa, as well as the outdoor art installations, valley views and wildlife-attracting watering holes that surround the entire property.
Related: Just Back from Namibia
Iceland is a must-visit for pristine landscapes and top-notch adventure activities such as glacier trekking, volcano hiking, horseback riding, fjord cruising and mountain glamping. This extraordinary island offers otherworldly terrain that is ripe for expeditions, and it is one of the best places to view the Northern Lights, especially from September to April.
WHERE TO STAY: BEST FOR ULTIMATE INDULGENCE
Two high-end properties have signaled the arrival of luxury product in Iceland. A former sheep farm converted into an experiential hotel in 2016, Deplar Farm exists in a Narnia-like wonderland on Iceland’s Troll Peninsula. The 13-room property is without a doubt a splurge, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience with world-class wilderness guides, summit-to-sea heli-skiing, salmon fly-fishing and countless other activities. For a more relaxed but luxe option, don’t miss the recently opened Retreat at the Blue Lagoon, a sleek hotel with a 43,000-square-foot spa carved into the famous lagoon’s volcanic rock. It truly delivers, with a robust treatment menu, gourmet dining experiences and private access to nearly 10,000 square feet of thermal waters.