10 Best Resorts for End-of-Summer Family Adventures
Make some memories at these family friendly, adrenalin-fueled destinations.
Photo By: Scott Temme
Photo By: Eliot VanOtteren
Photo By: Echo Canyon River Expeditions
Angel Fire Resort, New Mexico
Summer may be winding down, but your adventurous family doesn't have to at these properties across the country that specialize in outdoorsy excitement. So grab the kids and bond one last time before school starts with a wilderness adventure sure to bring everyone together.
The same mountains that makes Angel Fire Resort in northern New Mexico a favorite destination for skiers and snowboarders in the winter also attracts mountain bikers from all over the country in the summer and fall. Its Angel Fire Bike Park has been voted best in the Southwest by MTBPark.com for the past five years, and features more than 60-miles of trails and 2,000 vertical feet of downhill. Trails are ranked green, blue and black as in skiing, and accommodate all levels of riders. When not shredding, go paddleboarding, fly fishing, ziplining, golfing, hiking and a host of other mountain activities. Use Angel Fire as a home base to explore the nearby Taos Pueblo and other historic and cultural sites throughout the Land of Enchantment.
Under Canvas Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Enjoy upscale glamping in a down-home environment at Under Canvas Smoky Mountains just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Take in Appalachian views from the 182-acre camp with access to more than 800-square-miles of international biosphere that is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. ATV tours, guided hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, ziplining, fly fishing and rafting are all available through Under Canvas, and special programs throughout the year such as Acoustic Campfire Music Series adds to the atmosphere, and packages such as the Great Smoky Mountains Adventure Package fine tune your family’s experience.
Purgatory Resort, Colorado
Purgatory Resort 20 miles north of charming Durango is known as an awesome skiing destination, but summer and fall are full of adventure as well. Scream down the grassy summer slopes on the Inferno Mountain Coaster and Alpine Slide, bomb down the mountain bike park trails, go ziplining, bungee trampolining, try the ropes course and plunge 18-feet into the Big Air Bag like a stuntkid, among other outdoor activities. Explore the surrounding La Plata mountains, nearby Mesa Verde National Park and other public lands to round out your adventure stay.
Adventures on the Gorge, West Virginia
Rafting the New and Gauley rivers, rock climbing and paddleboarding at Summersville Lake, horseback riding, zip lining, fly fishing, learning to kayak, playing laser tag and paint ball and mountain biking are just a few of the adventure activities at Adventures on the Gorge near Lansing, West Virginia. Perched near the breathtaking New River Gorge, this adventure resort is great for families and groups eager to push their thrill meter. Stay in a four-bedroom cabin, glamping tent or bring your own camping gear and stay on property. Enjoy casual dining at Smokey’s Cast Iron Grill, the bar menu at local-favorite Chetty’s and catch local live music at the Rendezvous Lodge before getting a good night’s sleep for tomorrows adventures.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Utah
Located right next to Zion National Park in southwest Utah, at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort families can tackle the climbing wall, swimming, play miniature golf, horse shoes, tennis, volleyball, zip line and trampoline bungee. Resort tours take you to adjacent public lands for ATV tours, canyoneering, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. The Kids Camp caters to young’uns and includes fun, age-appropriate activities for kids 3 to 11. Suites, glamping tents, and cabins offer a range of accommodations to hang your hats after a day of adventuring, and meal options include family favorites at Ray’s Restaurant and Dutch-oven campfire dinners under the stars.
The Ranch at Death Valley, California
Live it up at the Ranch at Death Valley. A palm-shaded oasis within Death Valley National Park, the Ranch at Death Valley is a family destination featuring 224 new rooms, a spring-fed pool that’s 87-degrees year-round, the lowest golf course in the United States (214 feet below sea level), playgrounds, restaurants, ice cream shops and other family activities near the Death Valley National Park visitor center. Explore the largest national park in the lower 48 states on foot, horseback or rental jeep or tour, then relax around the communal fire pit under one of the darkest skies in America.
Lake Powell Resort, Arizona
Explore otherworldly Lake Powell by day and enjoy the comfort of a lake-facing, Southwest-inspired suite at night at Lake Powell Resort, located within Glen Canyon Recreation Area near Wahweap Marina in Arizona. Rent a boat or kayak and explore the sensuous sandstone formations, beaches and canyons of Lake Powell, boat Marble Canyon and Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado and explore Antelope Canyon with day excursions. Take your room on the water with a houseboat rental, and enjoy the pool, restaurants and other activities including golf on the resort grounds.
Sea Island Resort, Georgia
Relish regal rooms after a day filled with skeet shooting, boating, fishing and falconry at Georgia’s Sea Island Resort. Join staff naturalists and patrol the beach looking for baby sea turtles and other environmentally-impactful nature activities. Camp Cloister caters to younger kids with activities and art, and the Teen Scene puts your almost-adults on Hobie Cats and paddleboards with other teens while you hit one of three championship golf courses. Dining ranges from the Five Star Georgian Room to quick bites for those on the go. Rooms in the historic Cloister are worthy of royalty or go with more casual accommodations at the Inn at Sea Island. Cottage rentals are available as well.
Yosemite High Sierra Camps, California
For families wanting a true adventure in the backcountry, Yosemite High Sierra Camps offers a backpacking experience in Yosemite National Park without the heavy packs. Communal glamping-style tents are spaced miles apart along a loop trail, where you’ll hike to each day through the postcard scenery of the High Sierras. Hiking and mule tours are available and include meals, or go it alone and purchase meals separately. Hikers only need carry day packs with water, snacks and cameras while reveling in a true wilderness experience. Reservations are taken a season in advance.
Glamp at Echo Canyon Royal Gorge Cabins, Colorado
Run the rapids of the Royal Gorge, then retire to your luxury cabin or glamp under the stars at Echo Canon an hour from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Whitewater rafting ranges from calm to cowabunga depending on your adrenalin desire, and at night relax at 8 Mile Bar & Grill before enjoying a fully furnished luxury cabin (more like a well-appointed mountain house), or your family can "rough it" in a walk-in canvas tent complete with queen beds and luxury linens, redwood deck and fire pit outside.