Kick back and relax in solitude, with a view; the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee © wbritten / Getty
Leave the front country behind in favor of more remote, wild spans away from serious crowds.
But that ambition doesn't mean every night has to wind down on a foam camping pad inside a drippy tent. A hike-in lodge offers all the adventure of a wilderness trek with the comfort of a clean bed, hot showers and a home-cooked meal at the end of a rewarding day.
The nine hike-in lodges below offer remarkable access to some of the most remote parts of the US without the need to sacrifice the comforts of home. Because let’s be honest, nothing feels more hedonistic than pampering yourself in the wilderness!
Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona © Fredlyfish4 / Shutterstock
Phantom Ranch, Arizona
Best for hiking the Grand Canyon
There’s only one lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and it’s so popular you’ll need to book more than a year in advance. The Phantom Ranch has been welcoming guests into the depths of the wild west’s most iconic landmark for a century, offering them respite from the elements in rustic cabins made of wood and native stone. Of course, the journey is as wild as the destination: you descend 7.5 miles on the exposed South Kaibab Trail and make the arduous return via the more shaded 10-mile Bright Angel Trail.
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Muir Trail Ranch, California
Best for a mountain escape
There’s no road within 11 miles, no phone and no showers – though the Japanese-style hot springs will certainly soothe aching muscles. The Muir Trail Ranch is a true off-grid escape in the high mountains of central California with riverside tent cottages and log cabins that are most often used by those tackling the John Muir or Pacific Crest trails. Swap trekking sagas in the fireplace lounge, which keeps guests warm and relaxed with books, board games and comfy furniture. Remember to bring a sleeping bag, but don’t worry about the meals (they’re included!).
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Lake of the Clouds Hut, New Hampshire
Best for summiting the highest peak in the northeast
Lake of the Clouds is the largest and highest of eight huts operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The spectacular setting – it’s in a col between Mount Monroe (5372ft) and Mount Washington (6288ft) – makes it an ideal staging ground for summit bids of the highest peak in the northeast. Access to the 100-year-old property is via the Crawford Path (7 miles). Sleep in one of the 90 bunks and expect a small “croo” to not only cook, but entertain and educate.
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Hike Inn, Georgia
Best as a hub for the Appalachian Trail
It’s a five-mile trek across babbling streams and up the scenic ridges of Georgia’s Amicalola Falls State Park to reach the LEED-certified Hike Inn, which is one of the cushier spots on this list with solar-heated showers, plush linens and nourishing meals. The 20-room lodge sits at an altitude of 3100 feet, with views from the wrap-around porch over gently rolling hills. Thru-hikers tackling the Appalachian Trail often use Hike Inn as a comfortable launchpad or rewarding end to their grueling 2200-mile journey.
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There are plenty of places to camp near rivers and coasts in Oregon, but few with decks right over the roaring Rogue © Alamy Stock Photo
Paradise Lodge, Oregon
Best for the gourmand hiker
The name doesn’t lie: Paradise Lodge sits on an idyllic stretch of the lush Lower Rogue River Canyon with 18 woodsy rooms spread across six unique cabins. Access is either by foot (the shortest trail is a family-friendly 3.5 miles) or by rafting, kayaking or jetboating downriver. Fine dining, local wines, craft beer and freshly roasted coffee are the hard-earned rewards for your adventurous arrival.
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Charit Creek Lodge, Tennessee
Best for the rustic, no-electricity escapist
Charit Creek Lodge is only 1 mile from the nearest parking lot, but that just gives you more time to explore the 150 miles of surrounding trails through the scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs of Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. And while the lodge may be completely off the grid, the comfortable linens, oil-burning lanterns, wood-burning stoves and porch-top rocking chairs make the private cabins here feel unexpectedly swish. Plus, the meals are rave-worthy, and the restrooms even have hot showers and flush toilets!
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Along with its sibling, the Sperry Chalet, Granite Park Chalet is one of the most popular places to stay in Glacier National Park © Chuck Haney / DanitaDelimont.com / Alamy Stock Photo
Granite Park Chalet, Montana
Best for the views of Glacier National Park
The Great Northern Railway built this panoramic chalet – now a National Historic Landmark – in 1914 at an elevation of 6693ft above sea level. The sweeping views over Glacier National Park are astounding, but to enjoy them, you’ll need to trek at least four uphill miles and bring your own linens, water and food, which you can cook in a basic kitchen. Prefer something less rustic? Try the nearby Sperry Chalet, one of America’s most beloved hike-in lodges. Though it was partially destroyed in a 2017 wildfire, it reopened anew in 2020.
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Bearpaw Camp, California
Best for incredible panoramas of Sequoia National Park
There’s no better way to experience the High Sierra backcountry of Sequoia National Park than to book a stay at Bearpaw Camp. The 11.5-mile hike in entails several creek crossings but is well worth it for the million-dollar views over the snow-frosted mountains of the Great Western Divide. Once you arrive, you can expect a generous dinner, hot showers and a sheltered stay in one of the six tent cabins located on a rocky saddle. The camp is only open June to mid-September, and you’ll need a wilderness permit before setting off.
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Llamas resting and eating on a foggy day after carrying supplies to the top of Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park © epantha / Getty Images
LeConte Lodge, Tennessee
Best for relaxation in the Smoky Mountains
You’ll find the highest altitude guest lodge in the eastern United States on an open glade at 6400ft, just below the summit of its namesake peak within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Access is via one of five routes, the most popular being the 6.5-mile Trillium Gap Trail, which is also used by the pack llamas carting supplies. Hearty homecooked meals, kerosene lanterns, propane heaters and washbasins for old-school sponge baths add comfort to stays in one of the seven rough-hewn cabins or three multi-room lodges.
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