Imagine being one with nature, stargazing into the limitless expanse of the night sky, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city life. Imagine exploring nature’s architecture, scintillating waterfalls and vertigo-inducing cliffs, and watching wildlife roam freely, as it always had.
You can make this happen and more at the 10 best luxury wilderness lodges and resorts in North America, many of which are actually located in the gentile and wild National Parks in the USA. These luxury retreats will help you escape to the wilderness without having to give up any creature comforts.
1. The Desert, Utah
Experience the earth’s beauty at its most basic form in this red-rock, rugged desert-scape. Beyond the few pine-clad mountains, there’s little vegetation in this vast arid region. The unique rockf ormations have been sculpted by time, water and wind. Visit the red-rock spans in Arches National Park, the sheer-walled river gorges in the Canyonlands and the stunning buttes and mesas of Monument Valley.
Amangiri resort (pictured above) is your second reason to visit this stunning region. Tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views towards the Grand Staircase, The resort is built around a central swimming pool with spectacular views. Blending with its dramatic surrounds of deep canyons and towering plateaus, this wilderness escape could not be more rugged. Amangiri’s Aman Spa features a floatation therapy pavilion, water pavilion with sauna, steam room, cold plunge and step pool, fitness centre and yoga pavilion. Amangiri’s trail system allow guests to explore the region’s striking desert scenery on foot. Aman resorts are one of my favourite luxury hotel brands and you can read about my recent trip to Aman Grand Canal in Venice.
Amangiri in the Utah desert also features in my top luxury wilderness lodges in the world.
2. Post Ranch Inn
Is this the ultimate ocean escape? Experience Big Sur’s profound and humbling beauty with breathtaking sunsets. Perched on the clifftop of Big Sur, a rugged stretch of California’s coastline between Carmel and San Simeon, sits the breathtaking Post Ranch Inn.
This is the perfect overnight stop, to break up the drive along this scenic Californian Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. From Carmel, the drive takes 40 minutes down the spectacular Highway 1.
Bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and enormous redwoods, and to the west by the glittering Pacific Ocean, the Post Ranch Inn is a wood and glass structure built on stilts on the top of the hillside. The views from the modern rooms in cliff and ocean rooms are staggering, and there is a generous balcony complete with loungers so that you can absorb the vistas all day and all night. Mountain rooms also have large decks overlooking the mountains and all rooms come with a wood-burning fire.
Other room options include the magnificent tree houses which are built on stilts nine feet off the forest floor with a stairway to each entrance. These rooms offer a luxurious opportunity for anyone who has ever dreamed of sleeping amongst the trees.
3. UNESCO SW Nova Scotia Biosphere Reserve
Trout Point Lodge is a wilderness retreat in Nova Scotia at the heart of the UNESCO SW Nova Scotia Biosphere Reserve and a picturesque 45 minute drive from Yarmouth Harbour, where you find the international ferry from Maine, USA & Yarmouth International Airport.
This luxury eco-lodge, which is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, is surrounded by a pine and spruce forest, secluded in nature and on the banks of the Tusket River right next to the Tobeatic Wilderness area. Here you might enjoy sightings of black bear, turtles, flying squirrels, grouse, deer, beaver, owls, loons, eagles and even moose.
The Lodge and grounds occupy 100 acres and at night light pollution is minimal making stargazing sensational. The lodge has a star gazing platform where they organise special tours with an astronomer on staff and powerful telescopes. If you are there on a clear night the sky will be unforgettable.
4. Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The Ultimate wilderness retreat in Canada’s British Columbia region is the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort on Vancouver Island. Open from May to September, this indulgent but untamed wilderness resort is located in the Clayoquot Sound World Biosphere Reserve (within the Pacific Rim National Park). This unique 21st-century-safari-style enclave of great white canvas suite tents, dining, lounge, and spa tents, offers excellent cuisine and breathtaking adventures. Twenty guest and family suite tents showcase antique furnishings, opulent rugs, down duvets, remote-controlled propane powered wood stoves and luxurious amenities. Watch out for bears and whales.
5. Wild West Luxury in Utah
Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa in Utah, an authentic, 100% Old West hideaway with all the trimmings of a stylish, boutique resort. This red rock resort doesn’t just look like a scene from the movies, it is a scene from the movies with multiple Hollywood blockbusters being filmed in the area since 1949, resulting in silver screen epics like: Rio Grande, The Comancheros and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Hidden in the heart of the gorgeous, red rock wilderness and nestled against the banks of the Colorado River, this upscale 240 acre retreat lies just 17 miles from Moab, Utah and slap bang in the middle of the adventure capital of the West. The accommodation at the resort is not what you’d expect from being in Canyon Country, rather than a standard room, you stay in charming log cabins which offer a mixture of rustic style and luxury with opulent pine beds complete with handcrafted four-posts, cattle horn wall hangings; artsy barbed wire chandeliers and more oak than you would see in a forest along with all the modern amenities you would expect in this level of resort.
The Ranch offers river rafting right on your doorstep as well as morning yoga, hiking and biking trails, limitless photographic opportunities and it’s also close to many Moab attractions like Canyonlands, Arches National Park and many other state parks and off-road terrains. Depending on the season of your visit you can also enjoy ATV rides, horseback riding with authentic, friendly wranglers (the resort even has ponies for younger children), rock art tours, hot air ballooning, scenic road cycling and golf at the scenic Moab Golf Course.
With its excellent one-of-a-kind cabins, spectacular views, therapeutic spa, gourmet dining and riverside pool, this resort really is the point at which luxury meets adventure. Join the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who chose Sorrel River Ranch as a base to explore this beautiful red rock country.
6. Smith Fork Ranch, Colorado
Smith Fork Ranch in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains offers an extraordinary escape. Located on 300 gorgeous acres of Colorado’s Western Slope, Smith Fork Ranch is secluded and intimate, boasting luxurious comfort, attention-to-detail hospitality and five-star farm-to-table cuisine, blended with authentic western experiences and Rocky Mountain outdoor adventures.
They offer a back-to-nature (but luxury) tented safari experience at the top of Sink Creek, in a private camp 10,000 feet above sea level. Two-day trips take guests hiking up 150-year-old trails with connections to the native Ute Indian tribes. We particularly love the stargazing opportunities at the camp which is far from ambient light and offers impressive night-sky stargazing panoramas.
7. Under Canvas® Yellowstone
This camp is on the doorstep of Yellowstone Park and is the perfect place experience all the natural beauty of America’s most famous National Park in a setting so lavish, you will be wondering what took you so long to try this nomad-inspired lifestyle. You can of course, enjoy outdoors experiences like kayaking, rafting, horseback riding and fly fishing, but you will not have to rough it in the Under Canvas® Yellowstone camp. Suites come complete with a private en-suite modern bathroom, including a sink, flushing toilet and a roll-top bath, as well as a living room and a bedroom wing, with a King-size bed. Deluxe tents also benefit from private, adjacent bathrooms, as well as raised hardwood floors.
8. Glamping In Utah
Imagine waking up to the sounds and smells of nature in one of the most spectacular places on earth while having all the luxuries you could wish for at your fingertips (including bathrooms!). Moab Under Canvas® gives you an opportunity to experience all the natural beauty of America’s most popular camping destinations in settings so lavish, you will be wondering what took you so long to try this nomad-inspired lifestyle.
This accommodation is within a short distance from the entrance of not one, but two parks. It offers secluded luxury suites with en-suite bathrooms, separate living rooms, bedrooms and a proper king-size bed. Deluxe tents have raised wooden floors and an en-suite bathrooms with towels and spa toiletries. Once you’ve experienced the National Parks in all their glory, you can return to our Luxury Tent Camp and unwind while enjoying amazing views, luxury bathrooms and gourmet meals in the on-site restaurant.
Arches National Park is home to the famous Balanced Rock, La Sal Mountains and the Delicate Arch Overlook. Spend an afternoon admiring these natural rock formations, lit up by the warm setting sun. Otherwise, why not explore the Canyonlands National Park from a bird’s eye view, cruising over the breath-taking Colorado River, as it weaves its way through the largest of the five National Parks in Utah. Dubbed ‘the Mecca of mountain biking’, Utah’s red rock terrain holds a lot of appeal for every traveller. So simply decide which one of their world-renowned natural reserves takes your fancy and accomplish that dream of sleeping under the stars in as much luxury as your heart desires.
9. Wilderness In The Southern Californian Desert
Privacy, luxury and stunning surroundings; no wonder Calmada Private Resort in Southern California (pictured above) has a guest list that includes Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, The Cure, Clint Eastwood and Demi Moore. Set in 200 secluded acres Calmada Private Resort is surrounded by desert which makes it perfect for hiking, riding or climbing. From here you can explore the Pioneertown Mountains and the Joshua Tree National Park.
This peaceful, adult-only resort is surrounded by giant weathered boulders, ancient junipers, Joshua trees, cactus, olive trees and desert oaks. The resort is exquisitely decorated throughout, with just 6 bedrooms, a pool and a wonderful chef waiting to feed you! Outside is a huge garden area that begs to be filled with parties, a pool and a large patio area with lots of places to sit and relax in the sunshine or shade. This is a place to take a night time stroll and star watch. With zero light pollution in the desert, the starscape here is unbeatable.
Calmada Private Resort features in my 5 best desert hideaways in Southern California.
10. The Resort At Paws Up
This near-perfect luxury resort in Montana sits on the edge of the never-ending unspoiled wilderness. Dream of the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky mountains, the wide grassy plains and sparkling mountain streams in this land of cowboys and ranchers. The Resort At Paws up places you at the edge of these wild lands. Spend a day on horseback, cast a fly in sparkling Montana waters or hike and spa your days away. Although you can stay in a vacation home, we prefer the beautiful luxury camping tents featuring fine linens, a superbly comfortable bed, chic rustic furnishings, electricity and fans and a camping butler (yes they really do offer one of these!).