Whether you’re looking for a riverside treehouse or a log hideaway in the mountains, there is an ideal weekend retreat not too far away.
Sierra Nevada, California
In just three hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find yourself smack in the middle of nowhere in the eastern Sierra. The new Wylder Hope Valley hotel (from $100)—which used to be called Sorenson’s Resort but reopened this summer under new ownership—is spread across 165 acres along the west fork of the Carson River, south of Lake Tahoe. Choose between 30 quaint and revamped cabins, seven yurts, a restored 1951 Spartan trailer, and 13 campsites (cabins from $200; camping from $45). Hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail, mountain biking, and soaking at Grover Hot Springs State Park are all within an hour’s drive of the property.
Most people visit Stanley—a nine-hour drive from Portland, Oregon, or six hours from Salt Lake City—to ride the area’s extensive network of mountain-biking trails, including the popular 11.5-mile Elk Mountain Loop, as well as to paddle the Salmon River and fish and swim at Redfish Lake. (I go for the pecan sticky buns at the Stanley Baking Company.) Stay in one of ten log cabins at Triangle C Cabins (from $150), where you can play cornhole on the lawn with a backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains.
Cuchara Valley, Colorado
Southern Colorado’s Spanish Peaks have all the draws of the Rockies—unspoiled views, endless trails, mountains to summit—but none of the crowds. Check out the small towns of La Veta and Cuchara, which are about three hours south of Denver by car, for hiking, mountain biking, and an artsy-meets-ranching Old West vibe. Book one of the nine historic cabins at the Yellow Pine Guest Ranch (from $105), a 100-acre estate in the Cuchara Valley.
Taos, New Mexico
Stay at the 40-acre Taos Goji (from $89), the only large-scale goji berry farm in the U.S., which also grows other fruits and vegetables and raises free-range chickens, goats, and alpacas in northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The site’s ten historic cabins, which are heated with wood-burning stoves and powered by solar electricity, are named after the famous writers who once stayed here, like D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley. You’ll find plenty of hiking trails, hot springs, and rafting nearby.
Two hours southeast of St. Louis, or five hours south of Chicago, Cobden is a gateway to Shawnee National Forest, home to sandstone cliffs, over 400 miles of trails, and one of the state’s most Instagrammed attractions, the rock pillars of Garden of the Gods. Overnight in one of five Hillside Haven Cabins (from $95)—well-appointed chalets with massive windows and vaulted ceilings—to be minutes from the hiking trails and outdoor wine-tasting rooms along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.
Landrum, South Carolina
The Walking Bears Cabin (from $125) sits on a 12.5-acre property less than an hour from Greenville, South Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina. A restored 19th-century log cabin, it’s the ideal base camp for biking and hiking in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. The main cabin sleeps up to four in two bedrooms, while a studio apartment with its own entrance is perfect for a couple. Or rent the whole thing for up to eight people.
Taberg, New York
At the Wellnesste Lodge (from $79), located 50 minutes from Syracuse, New York, stay in one of seven accommodations, ranging from treehouses and knotty-pine cottages to a renovated school bus. A former hunting camp turned nature sanctuary, this 60-acre riverfront property has tubing, swimming, or angling on Fish Creek, as well as swimming at Oneida Lake and trekking in the Adirondacks, both of which are within an hour’s drive.