This article first appeared on Uproxx Life, where I write about travel and adventure. You can click here to read the original.
Picture this: you just hiked 30 miles and spent three nights camping in the wilderness. You return to the trailhead and get in your car, tired, dirty and sore. This is a pivotal moment. One where you’re faced with two choices. You could either unceremoniously drive home to the same old stresses of everyday life, or you could extend your trip for a day and drive to a nearby swanky hotel to spend the night recovering while being waited on hand and foot. If you chose option one, you might be a masochist. If you choose option two, well, you’re reading the right article.
And really, there’s no better way to toast your time roughing it in the woods (and the fact that you survived) than by rewarding yourself with a big comfortable bed, room service, and if you really want to treat yo’ self, a massage.
Sure a seasoned backpacker may not feel the need to celebrate their completed trek, but if you’re new to backpacking, or simply don’t get to go as often as you’d like, you have no excuse not to live it up when you’re done (okay fine, maybe your bank account balance is a valid excuse, but just for fun, pretend it’s not).
First, make sure you have all of the backpacking gear you need to master the time in the woods part, then consult the list below to find a trail with a nearby luxury hotel for your next backpacking adventure.
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness & Hotel Jerome
For outdoorsmen and women with a penchant for the finer things in life, Aspen is heaven on earth. While most people think of Aspen as primarily a winter destination (there are four world-class mountains to choose from within 20 minutes of downtown after all), Aspen is equally impressive in spring, summer and fall. That’s when you’ll want to visit the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, 181,000 acres of pure Rocky Mountain splendor located just 11 miles from the heart of Aspen
Here you’ll find the Maroon-Snowmass Trailhead, the start and end point for the 26-mile Four Pass Loop (or a shorter out and back hike) which takes most backpackers between three to five days to complete. Throughout that time, you’ll climb over four mountain passes, past several alpine lakes, and have access to some of the county’s finest secluded campsites, like this one.
Hike complete, drive to downtown Aspen and check-in to Hotel Jerome, a historic hotel with an eye for design. After changing out of your hiking boots, head downstairs to J-Bar for a cheeseburger and an Aspen Curd (a.k.a. Jim Beam milkshake). Then when it’s time to hit the sack, you’ll have a stylish room with a king sized bed with luxurious down bedding to retire to.
The Hollyford Track & Matakauri Lodge
Queenstown, New Zealand
For an international backpacking fix, few countries can top the geographic beauty and diversity of New Zealand. Plus, while winter in the northern hemisphere may put a halt on your backpacking plans, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere and the weather in fine.
For a classic New Zealand hike, head for the southern island’s Hollyford Track in the majestic Fjordland National Park. At 35 miles long, one way, the Hollyford Track takes hikers from the mountains to the sea via the Hollyford Valley with little elevation change. It can usually be completed in three or four days, with hikers sleeping in rudimentary, small group huts along the way.
At the end of the Track, arrange for transportation to Queenstown and stay a night (or forever — you’ll want to) at Matakauri Lodge on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Get settled into your suite or cottage (each has a private patio and fireplace) then visit the spa for a signature mud treatment or take a dip in the infinity pool. Afterwards, enjoy a bottle of New Zealand wine paired with a gourmet meal made of local ingredients at the lodge’s restaurant.
Grand Teton National Park & Hotel Jackson
A rugged mountain town with cowboy charm surrounded by some of America’s most serious wilderness. That’s Jackson Hole and the town of Jackson.Loved for its steep and deep winter skiing, Jackson is a hardcore skier’s paradise. Come summer however, visitors still flock to Jackson and the surrounding wilderness thanks to nearby Yellowstone National Park (one hour away) and Grand Teton National Park (20 minutes away). In Grand Teton National Park, 310,000 acres hold the 40-mile long Teton Range and 200 miles of hiking trails. But backpacking in these parts isn’t for the inexperienced — not only can there still be ice and snow at high elevations in the summer, it’s also Black and Grizzly Bear country. Bottom line, come prepared.
While there are numerous trails to choose from, the 26-mile Cascade Canyon/Death Canyon via Static Peak Divide trail will provide you with one to two nights in the backcountry and plenty of great scenery.
After you’ve made it out alive, embrace civilization (and celebrate a bear free camping trip) with a stay at Hotel Jackson, a new boutique hotel located in downtown Jackson. Once in your room, marvel at the view of the Teton Ranch (and reminisce about how just the night before you were sleeping somewhere in there), then plop down face first on your plush, king size bed for a nap. Rested up, head outside and you’ll be just a few steps away from Jackson’s best restaurants and bars — including the world famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
Kalalau Trail & The St. Regis Princeville Resort
When you think of Hawaii, you probably think of relaxing next to a pool with a tiny umbrella-adorned beverage in your hand. But beyond the resorts, Hawaii is home to some truly wild and untouched landscapes.Case in point, the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park on the island of Kauai — home to the 22-mile round trip Kalalau Trail. Set along the dramatic cliffs of the Nāpali Coast, the Kalalau Trail traverses five lush valleys and ends at Kalalau Beach, where, with a permit, hikers can camp for the night. The first two miles of this trail serve as a popular day hike (it’s crawling with tourists), but once you make it beyond that point, you should find some tropical peace and quiet.
Back at the trailhead, drive just 12 miles east and indulge in the Hawaii-you-imagine-when-daydreaming-about-Hawaii at The St. Regis Princeville Resort. Drop you camping gear in your ocean view suite and immediately head to the resort’s 5,000 square foot infinity-edge pool (which from the right angle appears to merge with the ocean a few steps away). If you’re in need some next level rest and relaxation, just book a private pool or oceanside cabana, order a bite to eat and a few cocktails, then sooth your aching muscles with an in-cabana massage. Yes, Hawaii is the best.
Gore Lake Trail & The Sebastian – Vail – A Timbers Resort
Colorado makes the list again (because Rocky Mountains), but this time, for the state’s other posh wilderness hangout, Vail.
People rave about the skiing here in the winter, but just like the rest of the region, Vail’s nature doesn’t disappoint in warm weather months either. There are plenty of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, but for a tough one-night-in-the-backcountry trail, there’s Gore Lake. At 12.2 miles round trip, this out and back trail might seem like a short journey (six miles in and six miles out). But keep in mind the trail starts at almost 9,000 feet elevation, and gains almost 2,700 feet in elevation over the course of six miles. Spend the night camping, then on the morning of day two, make the final climb to Gore Lake. Just don’t forget your fishing pole.
Back in Vail, check into your well-appointed and cozy room at The Sebastian – Vail – A Timbers Resort. If you still have the energy, take a stroll around Vail’s quaint village (located just outside the doors of the hotel), then come back for a massage at the spa. At night, grab a cocktail at Frost, the hotel’s bar, then relax a little more with a dip in the heated pool and hot tub.
[This article first appeared on Uproxx. Click here to read the original]
Photo Credit: Hotel photos provided by the respective property. Maroon Bells: Trevor Morrow. Hollyford Track: Destination Fjordland. Grand Teton National Park: Flickr. Kalalau Trail: Flickr. Gore Lake Trail: Flickr.
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