Few places embody the pioneering spirit of the “great outdoors” as iconically as the North American continent. Settled over the course of years on the frontier and slow decades spent climbing mountains and building roads, the majesty of the region is present from the prairies of Montana to the mountains of Canada.
Even today, amid the technological marvels and modern luxury we’ve grown accustomed to, watching an eagle soar overhead or catching a glimpse of a grizzly bear in the forest reminds us that there are some parts of the world that can never be truly tamed.
When you’re ready to rediscover your wild side, consider the following destinations as part of your own personal frontier journey.
1. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
This richly-appointed, safari-style outpost sits on the Pacific Coast of Canada, where the bio-diverse Crown Land and Strathcona Provincial Park surrounds the campsite with 600 acres of lush river valley. Accessible by a 45-minute float plane ride from Vancouver, the 25 ensuite canvas tents bring modern comfort to the pioneering spirit of the Canadian wilderness.
Must-Do Activities: With two gaming tents, a billiards and activities tent and a glass waterfront lounge, guests don’t need to stray from the campsite to find adventure. The Healing Grounds Spa offers space for yoga, relaxation and meditation on the serenity of nature, while curated hiking and fishing excursions or even a heli-adventure are waiting to exhilarate you.
Wildlife Encounters: The environment of Clayoquot Sound is host to dozens of species, including black bears, cougars, wolves, several species of whales, eagles and salmon, among others. The camp is perfect for whale and bear watching, fishing or getting hands-on experience restoring habitat for whales, sea lions or seabirds through the Coastal Ambassador Program.
2. Dunton Hot Springs
Situated in a gorgeous Coloradan alpine valley, the ghost town of Dunton Hot Springs is now an exclusive western-style resort, synergizing the history of its hand-hewn log cabins with the romance of slowly simmering hot springs beneath the snow. Each cabin has been lovingly restored, from the furnishings to their location near the Saloon and bath house.
Must-Do Activities: Live out your rustic adventure with a day spent rafting or mountain biking or while away the hours fly fishing on a private stretch of the West Fork of the Dolores. Guides can help you summit the nearby mountaintops, and you can unwind with yoga or take a dip in the mineralized waters of the hot springs.
Wildlife Encounters: Dunton isn’t just a ghost town—it’s also home to eagles, elk, moose, black bears, foxes and beavers. You may see some of these native inhabitants from horseback during a mountainside trail ride, or while accompanied by a llama on a llama hike. Wildlife can also be spotted from above during a heli-experience.
3. Flat Creek Ranch
Privately located at the end of a 15-mile route across the National Elk Refuge, the cabins of this historic dude ranch have been meticulously restored from their 1920s origins. Surrounded by acres of pristine National Forest backcountry, you’ll dine outrageously and reconnect to nature at this hidden jewel in Wyoming.
Must-Do Activities: Natural beauty abounds here, with hiking trails meandering through the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area. Fly fishing at Flat Creek will leave you dreaming of simpler times, or you can experience an outdoor adventure with a two-night overnight backcountry excursion in the comfortable canvas tents of the High Camp.
Wildlife Encounters: Each cabin features an outdoor porch as the perfect spot to relax and watch the fauna of Flat Creek Ranch. Bald eagles and ospreys hunt for fish in the creek, while mink, moose and bighorn sheep roam the forest and mountainside. Bears have also been observed on the carefully-designed nature trails.
4. Grizzly Bear Ranch
Six beautifully restored and well-appointed riverside cabins can be found at this small wilderness resort in the heart of British Columbia’s bear country. Grizzly Bear Ranch is designed with nature in mind, as the temperate rainforest that surrounds this remote lodge provides a verdant backdrop to the wildlife that is often seen roaming the wilderness.
Must-Do Activities: Alpine adventure awaits, with access to carefully-planned hiking trails offered via off-road vehicles in the summer. Find exhilaration by rafting on the cobalt-blue Class II river, or explore a remote lake on a power boat. At the end of the day, share stories at an outdoor barbecue or warm up by the campfire.
Wildlife Encounters: As the name suggests, there is no shortage of bear encounters at Grizzly Bear Ranch. The lodge does not use artificial means of attracting the bears, but uses the seasons to their advantage, leading guests along private trails in the spring and fall to view bears in their natural habitat.
5. The Resort at PAWS UP
Deep in the heart of 37,000 acres of unspoiled Montana wilderness sits The Resort at Paws Up—a luxury working cattle ranch that offers private homes or safari-style tents to suit your wilderness retreat needs. Offering flexibility between the ruggedly elegant tents, or the creature comforts of a home in the wild, you will truly experience the great outdoors here.
Must-Do Activities: With over 100 miles of hiking trails and thousands of acres of wilderness, you’ll never be bored at Paws Up. Horseback riding is a must—including lessons, trail rides and even participating in a cattle drive. See the bigger picture from a hot air balloon, or practice your aim with sporting clays or archery.
Wildlife Encounters: Located on a working cattle ranch, cows and horses can be found everywhere at Paws Up. The area is home to wild mustangs that are welcomed into the resort and “gentled” to human contact in a powerful demonstration for guests. The Montana wilderness is also home to whitetail deer, groundhogs and squirrels.