For generations, Americans have ventured into the vast, ancient forests of the United States seeking spiritual, emotional, and physical rejuvenation, indelibly blending the concepts of restoration and peace with being in the woods. That notion of forest wellness still persists to this day, but instead of decamping into the woods to sleep in a tent or going off the grid, the idea of a forest retreat has evolved to include all plush perks we now associate with wellness: extravagant dwellings, stone hot tubs, fine dining, and even air-conditioning. Luxury forest retreats across the United States are rapidly becoming the best way to discover the charms of the forest, combining relaxation with only the best amenities that money can buy. From glamping tents to upscale treehouses to elegant Western-style cabins, these are the top luxury forest getaways in the US.
1. The Resort at Paws Up — Greenough, Montana
Set on a 37,000-acre working cattle ranch in western Montana, where mountains and pristine forests give way to vast plains under endless skies, the Resort at Paws Up has long had a reputation for high-end backcountry retreats with its deluxe cabins and equestrian-themed activities. But the best way to experience the Montana wilderness is by staying in its fancy glamping tents.
Set in a variety of locations around the huge ranch — from the middle of the forest to woodsy creek-side overlooks — the safari-style but Wild West-themed tents (which range in size from 500 to over 1,000 square feet) come outfitted with features like freestanding bathtubs, plush king beds, indoor air-conditioned seating areas, and large front decks with Adirondack chairs. The camps come with their own chefs who prepare “refined rustic ranch” meals, but you can also check out the resort’s many restaurants and culinary activities. During the day, guests can take part in resort activities like horseback riding and fly fishing, or take short drives to explore the nearby national forests or Glacier National Park.
2. Blackberry Mountain — Walland, Tennessee
Opened earlier this year to great acclaim, Blackberry Mountain is the sister property of the beloved Blackberry Farm, famed for its farm-to-table cuisine and backcountry Tennessee charm. But this bucolic 5,200-acre resort — surrounded by virgin forests in the heart of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains — takes the concept one step further by wholly embracing the wilderness’s role in rejuvenation and wellness through rugged daily outdoor activities like hikes, mountain biking, rock climbing, and canoeing. There are also less strenuous activities like chef-led hikes where gourmet meals are prepared trail-side.
At the end of the day, guests return, weary but content, to the lodge for wholesome, farm-fresh meals at the two restaurants, specialty treatments in the underground spa, and soaking up the top-of-the-world views from the outdoor infinity pool, before retiring for the night to either a grand Watchman Cabin or an elegantly rustic Stone Cottage. And if you’re too tired to walk from the main lodge to your cabin, don’t worry; just have one of the on-site Lexus cars take you.
3. Mohonk Mountain House — New Paltz, New York
For generations, upstate New York has been the last word in combining summer fun like hiking and water sports with only the best in lodgings, cuisine, and amenities. And one of the absolute finest places to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the world is at the Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley, just 90 miles north of NYC. The European-style resort, which overlooks Lake Mohonk, was first built in 1869 and has over the years been vastly expanded to the castle-like wonder it is today, with 259 plush, Victorian-styled rooms; farm-to-table dining; a spa; indoor pool; and outdoorsy activities like hikes through the nearby 40,000-acre woodlands, boating, fishing, and kayaking.
4. Twin Farms — Barnard, Vermont
Surrounded by the peaceful silence and tranquil views of 300 acres of pristine Vermont woodland, the five-star, all-inclusive Twin Farms resort is well worth its hefty price tag. The main resort is housed in a historic farmhouse from the late 1700s but sumptuously upgraded, with additional cabins, cottages, and suites located nearby. The aesthetic themes vary from room to room, with some harkening back to the resort’s historic New England roots while others go for a more refined, ultra-modern feel, and each space has its own unique amenities like stone hot tubs and large, forest-view windows. At the main lodge, guests partake in decadent meals prepared with local ingredients and can relax at the spa or take part in daytime activities like a tour of the resort’s bee farm or going cycling with a gourmet picnic.
5. Post Ranch Inn — Big Sur, California
While the Post Ranch Inn made its name with its artsy contemporary bungalows, suites, and guesthouses perched 1,200 feet above California’s scenic Big Sur coastline, the wooded interior of the 100-acre property also houses several luxury treehouses. Elevated nine feet above the forest floor, the treehouses allow for complete forest immersion with stargazing skylights over the beds, private mountain-viewing decks, and large windows looking out on the surrounding woods. Similar to the other dwellings on the property, the staircase-accessible treehouses feature a sleek, contemporary design and other cushy amenities like a wood-burning fireplace, gourmet meals, restorative activities like hiking and yoga, and access to all of the resort’s features like the cliffside infinity pool.
6. ROAM Beyond — Washington State
Often, gaining access to the most remote wilderness locations requires roughing it and then spending the night in an uncomfortable tent. But ROAM Beyond, a new Seattle-based glamping company, thinks that being able to escape to the woods shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice comfort and style, and has launched a network of off-the-grid glamping sites around Washington where guests stay in wooden boutique campers. All of the amenities for a high-end camping experience are provided and guests only need to bring personal items, desired food, and their sense of adventure. Each camper comes equipped with a queen bed, kitchenette area, a bathroom, and hot water, as well as camping essentials like cooking tools. Best of all, the campers — the outsides of which are beautifully paneled in dark wood and topped with gleaming steel — are sustainable, with solar power systems and composting toilets. Currently, there are only two sites open — on the Olympic Peninsula in Kalaloch, Washington, and North Bend, Washington — but there are plans to open more soon in places like Joshua Tree and Yellowstone National Park.
7. Under Canvas — Glacier National Park, Montana
Ditching the standard safari-tent model for more whimsical designs, Under Canvas is earning quite the reputation for its glamping destinations around the US, but its site near Glacier National Park is one of the best. Hidden inside of a pine forest just a short drive from the park, its deluxe tents are especially suited for vacationing families or large groups, as the spacious tents feature en-suite bathrooms and multiple beds. A large front porch with leaning chairs offers relaxing views of the surroundings, and wood-burning stoves keep the tents nice and warm at night. While it’s easy to get out and explore Glacier on your own, Under Canvas also has its own activities like llama trekking and rafting.
8. Dunton River Camp — Dunton, Colorado
There is no shortage of opulent cabins and forest escapes in Colorado. But the Dunton River Camp still manages to stand out from the pack. Housed on a 500-acre former cattle ranch, Dunton’s eight luxurious, safari-esque tents allow guests all of the comforts and amenities of a high-end resort but in the middle of the San Juan Mountains’ immaculate nature. Guests can choose between staying in the Mountain or River tents (the Mountain ones are tucked away inside of the forest and offer mountain views) and come with a spacious front deck, king bed, en-suite bathroom, and contemporary Western decor. The resort is just a short drive from charming mountain towns like Telluride and tons of outdoorsy activities like hiking in summer and skiing in winter, but the resort does offer its own excursions as well, like horseback riding and fly fishing.
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