Adventure Resorts: Get the Thrill Without Sacrificing the Comfort

Ranging from simple to sublime, check into these plush properties and check out the adventures just outside their doors.

 

 

 

 

By: Steve Larese

Photo By: TT

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: National Park Service

Relaxation With a Side of Adrenalin

Traveling is always adventurous, and these getaways amp up the excitement factor for their guests. Here's a selection of adventure resorts around the world that offer thrill-seeking guests everything from biking to zip lining without sacrificing a warm meal and soft bed at the end of the day. (Pictured is Mountain Lodges of Peru)

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Utah

Go canyoneering, zip lining, ATVing, climbing and horseback riding on Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s 4,000 acres; then hike into Zion National Park right from the property or take a resort shuttle to a trailhead within the park. Lodging options range from staying in a Conestoga wagon that sleeps six with a king bed and bunkbeds, to cabin suites with kitchenettes and outdoor grills. Fully-equipped vacation homes with full kitchens, multiple bedrooms, Jacuzzi hot tubs and patio decks are available as well. The resort's tiered swimming pool is a great escape from the desert heat after a day of exploring.

Hotel Feel Viana, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Opened in April 2017, Hotel Feel Viana in Viana do Castelo offers kitesurfing, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons right on the Cabedelo Beach. Go cycling on 250 miles of coastal and forest trails that wind through its surrounding mountains. The on-site Viana Cycles Shop rents Scott bikes or services yours, and guided mountain and city bike tours are available as well. End the day with a spa treatment then dinner at FeelViana Restaurant, then enjoy a well-earned sleep in a simple, stylish room overlooking the beach.

Angel Fire Resort, New Mexico

With 60 miles of screaming downhill and flow trails, Angel Fire Resort in northern New Mexico becomes a premiere bike park when the snow melts and the skis are put away. Riders take lifts to the 10,677-foot summit to plunge 2,000 vertical feet back to the base. Trails have plenty of banks and features for experts, and mellower routes to take the edge off for beginners. The base bike shop rents bikes or keeps yours running. The golf course, indoor pool, hiking trails, fly fishing and other outdoor activities also help make it an active stay. Hotel rooms, lobby and restaurants are located right at the base and lifts for quickly getting on and off the mountain.

Mfuwe Lodge, Zambia

Elephants casually walking through the open-air lobby on their way to eat mangoes is just one of the sites guests may see at Mfuwe Lodge within Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Part of the Bushcamp Company of safari camps, Mfuwe is the only one within the park proper. Each of the 18 chalets has a private deck, and hippos, crocodiles, giraffes and other animals frequent the two lagoons on property. Take a walking or driving safari for the day, then enjoy a treatment at the Bush Spa followed by a sundowner and dinner on the open-air deck.

Skylodge Adventure Suites, Peru

Climb 1,200 feet up a cliff or hike and zip line just to reach your room at Peru’s Skylodge Adventure Suites. Transparent capsules are bolted into the cliff overlooking the Sacred Valley along the trekking route to Machu Picchu. Enjoy a gourmet dinner and bottle of wine as you watch the sun set over the valley below, then drift off to sleep under the stars before having breakfast and zip lining to the valley floor the next day. Enjoy the Skylodge on its own, or include it in a larger adventure resort itinerary offered by Big Five Tours & Expeditions that strings local resorts together for an epic trek to Machu Picchu United Nations World Heritage Site.

Reeb Ranch, North Carolina

Opened in 2014 by the mountain-bike crazy owners of nearby Oskar Blues Brewery, the Reeb Ranch offers two cabins, a 50-foot-long 1962 Airstream trailer, as well as camping and group-camping sites on its property. The on-site flow track and hundreds of miles of singletrack through adjacent DuPont State Forest and nearby Pisgah National Forest make this area a mountain biking mecca. Reeb Ranch also offers mountain biking tours for all skill levels. Music and other events throughout the year keep the excitement going after you're off the trail. 

Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado

Glamp under the starry Colorado sky after a day of running the rapids of the Arkansas River at Echo Canyon River Expeditions near Cañon City. Rafting adventures through the 1,000-foot deep Royal Gorge range from kid-friendly to white-knuckle white water, and overnight river rafting and camping trips are offered as well. Sleep in a well-appointed canvas tent or opt for a two-story luxury cabin with plenty of views, living space and gas fireplace. Enjoy a Colorado craft brew at the 8 Mile Bar & Grill that has an extensive kid’s menu, too. 

LeConte Lodge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Perched atop the highest peak in the half-million-acre Great Smokey Mountains National Park is LeConte Lodge. It can only be reached via a 6-mile hike to park's third-highest point at 6,400 feet. This also makes LeConte the highest-elevation guest lodge in the eastern United States. The payoffs are incredible views, hot meals, solitude and warm beds surrounded by wilderness. Situated along the Appalachian Trail, the lodge accepts reservations for its rough-hewn cabins and multi-room lodges with front porches, and also sells bag lunches and drinks to hikers who drop by.

Ion Adventure Hotel, Iceland

Take in the Northern Lights, scuba dive the American-Eurasian Silfra Fissure, shoot the rapids of the Hvita glacial river, tour the Icelandic landscape by helicopter, jeep or horse and soak in hot springs at Ion Adventure Hotel. Located near Thingvellir National Park and Iceland’s Golden Circle motor route around the island, Ion provides luxury accommodations, the Silfra Restaurant, Northern Lights bar and Ion Spa for unwinding after the day’s adventures.

Denali Backcountry Lodge, Denali National Park, Alaska

Immerse yourself in Denali National Park by staying overnight at Denali Backcountry Lodge. This collection of 42 cabins, main lodge, dining hall and spa are along the banks of Moose Creek, 92 miles into Denali’s backcountry. Grab a can of bear spray and hike the trails surrounding the property for sweeping views of Denali itself, Wonder Lake and the Alaska Range, or sign up for a guided hike or mountain bike tour. Fish or pan for gold in Moose Creek, enjoy hearty family-style meals in the main lodge, and book a spa treatment at The Nest Spa & Wellness after a hard day of hiking. Book a stay yourself or as part of a John Hall's Alaska adventure tour.

Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and relax at the tree-shaded oasis at Phantom Ranch. It is the only permanent lodging below the rim of the national park. This rustic, no-frills property was built in 1922 and designed by Mary Colter. Accommodations consist of simple, private cabins or male and female dormitories. Meals are served in the canteen. From Phantom Ranch, explore the North Kaibab and other trails without the need of backcountry permits or extensive camping gear. Phantom also makes a waypoint for through-hikers completing rim-to-rim hikes. For those not wanting to make the 10.5-mile hike from the South Rim, mule rides offered by Xanterra are available. 

Adventures on the Gorge Adventure Resort, West Virginia

Rip through the New River Gorge on the Gauley River for some of the best fall season white water in the world with Adventures on the Gorge. When you get off the river, go zip lining, climbing, stand-up paddle boarding and other adventures back at the resort or on nearby Summersville Lake. Enjoy dinner at Buffler’s Grill or Smokey’s on the Gorge before retiring to your comfortable cabin to rest up for the next day. Multi-day rafting trips are available that provide riverside tent camping and meals.

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