Last week, I launched a poll on my Instagram account. I asked if people were looking more for beach getaways or forest journeys this year. Personally, with everything going on in the world, I have been craving the woods; home to fresh air, nature, solitude, and adventure. It feels like the escape the world needs right now. What surprised me was how many other people agreed. In the poll, a whopping 93% of responders also said that this year, they’re looking for a forest escape.
In light of those findings, we’ve put together a list of North America’s best mountain lodges. These lodges have all reopened since the pandemic, have stringent safety and sanitation protocols, and are committed to welcoming visitors of every race, age, gender, and sexuality. These are North America’s most breathtaking mountain lodges.
BUFFALO MOUNTAIN LODGE
Banff National Park, Canada
Located at the top of Tunnel Mountain in Canada’s famous Banff National Park, Buffalo Mountain Lodge is one of the most quintessential mountain lodges of all time. From its rustic timber beams and giant bison head over the fireplace to its lush surroundings of firs, pines, and spruce trees, it’s something that feels straight out of a postcard. While staying at the lodge, expect to see some friendly visitors. Deer and elk are known to roam the grounds of the lodge, nibbling on the nutritious mountain grasses.
Be sure to also make a visit to the lodge’s esteemed restaurant, the Sleeping Buffalo Dining Room. The restaurant has been featured as a 2019 Diner’s Choice and was awarded a Gold rating at the Vancouver International Wine Awards. Expect a Rocky Mountain-themed menu complete with bison burgers and spiced free-range chicken, alongside locally grown vegetables and herbs.
Buffalo Mountain is the perfect all-season lodge. Being located in Banff means that they’re right next to some of the best skiing in the world, not to mention gorgeous autumn foliage.
Hiking, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, white water rafting, gondola rides
Skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, snowshoeing, sleigh rides
TRAPP FAMILY LODGE
Arguably one of the most historic lodges in the world, the Trapp Family Lodge was founded by the von Trapp family (made famous by The Sound of Music) after they escaped Europe during World War II. The lodge is all about bringing old-world comforts to the stunning mountains of the new world.
The lodge sits on 2,600 acres of land and has over 60 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing in the winter. The lodge also has an 18-hole disc golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, a climbing wall, and a luscious, rejuvenating sauna. Also, because of the von Trapp’s famous life, the lodge also offers von Trapp family history tours, giving you the real-life story that inspired The Sound of Music. And what Austrian lodge would be complete without a brewery? At the lodge, you can drink beers from the on-site von Trapp Brewery. Be sure to try their three-time award-winning Bohemian Pilsner.
I reached out to the von Trapp family to ask what makes the lodge so special in these trying times, and Sam von Trapp replied, “What people need right now is space. With 2,600 acres of land, over 60 miles of hiking and biking trails, and expansive restaurants that allow people to spread out, we’re happy to help guests renew their human spirit and find adventure here on our mountainside!”
Hiking, biking, swimming, historical tours, tennis, garden tours, and maple-tapping tours
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing
EMERALD LAKE LODGE
British Columbia, Canada
Emerald Lake, called so because limestone sediment in the water gives the lake a brilliant jade color, is one of the most gorgeous spots in all of B.C.’s Yoho National Park. The lodge is perfect for those looking for solitude and peace. At max capacity, the lodge only holds 200 guests, making the space feel intimate and cozy. It’s clear why Emerald Lake is a popular spot for destination weddings and honeymoons.
By day, guests love canoeing and kayaking around the lake, or hiking through the hills and finding rugged vistas that overlook the lodge and lake. By night, there’s the lodge’s exquisite dining room, peaceful reading room, and for those looking to socialize, they even have a game room. But best of all is the outdoor hot tub. What better way to end the night than stargazing from the warmth of a jacuzzi?
Canoeing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, relaxing
Nearby skiing and snowshoeing, stargazing
ORCA ISLAND CABINS
Resurrection Bay, Alaska
If you’re looking to “rough it” in the most glamorous way possible, Orca Island Cabins is the place to go. The cabins have eco-friendly additions like solar panels and compost toilets, while also providing all the luxuries a modern traveler wants, like hot showers and even fireplaces.
On Orca island, nature and relaxation blend perfectly. Is there any better way to wake up than by watching whales…right from your bed? Located in Alaska’s Resurrection Bay, the getaway is perfect for water lovers. The area’s giant cascading mountains and pine-filled hills roll into fjords, rivers, bays, and ocean inlets. Many visitors spend an entire day on the deck, watching the wildlife on both land and sea. It’s also perfect for those looking to slowly canoe through the still waters, taking in the sights and sounds of America’s last frontier.
Better yet, the cabin’s owners are members of the Seward Pride Alliance, which is dedicated to helping create equality and inclusivity in Alaska’s Seward region.
Kayaking, canoeing, tide pooling, whale watching, hiking, fishing, grilling, nights spent by the campfire
The season runs May – September
ST. REGIS – ASPEN
Does anyone do luxury quite like the St. Regis? The St. Regis in Aspen serves as one of Colorado’s most gorgeous mountain lodges. Located in the heart of Aspen, almost directly next to Aspen Mountain, the St. Regis puts you in the heart of excellent shopping, world-class dining, and of course, a skier’s paradise.
In the summer months, the mountains of Colorado bloom with gorgeous wildflowers and tall grasses, contrasted by the sturdy pine trees that line the hills. The area makes for great hiking, mountain biking, and phenomenal sightseeing (because who doesn’t love panoramic views of the Rockies?)
Best of all, the St. Regis in Aspen has its own personal pup! Kitty, the Bernese Mountain Dog, hosts charity events, rides along for airport pickups, joins in for kid’s storytime, and is always available for cuddles and nuzzles. If you see him trotting through the halls, be sure to give him a hello belly rub, it’s his favorite.
Hiking, biking, gondola rides, shopping, dining, arts & culture, spa, swimming pool
Skiing, snowboarding, fireside cocoa, ice skating, dining, shopping
Lake Louise, Canada
Deer Lodge is a Canadian classic. Built in 1925, just steps away from the famous Lake Louise, the lodge has been home to travelers looking to escape into the great outdoors for almost 100 years.
Visitors love lounging lakeside, hiking the Canadian Rockies, and renting a boat to explore the lake. At the end of the day, relax in the lodge’s rooftop hot tub that offers unbeatable views of the Victoria Glacier, one of the many glaciers that helped form Lake Louise. After warming up, unwind in the lodge’s traditional dry wood sauna.
During your adventures, take a break at the Caribou Lounge, built in a log cabin with views of the glacier, for afternoon tea or an evening cognac. It’s no wonder that Deer Lodge is one of Canada’s oldest continually-operating lodges. It’s historic, rustic, and downright breathtaking.
Hiking, biking, swimming, boating, sightseeing, paddling, horseback riding
Ice fishing, ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, (the outdoor hot tub remains open year-round)