Mainly in Wyoming, though it juts into Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is the oldest national park and is most famous for its Old Faithful geyser.
Luxe Way: The Ranch at Rock Creek
At this new 6,600-acre property in Montana, four hours by car from Yellowstone, guests ride horses and fly-fish by day; at night, they can choose four-poster beds in the lodge or safari-style tents by the creek.
The Ranch at Rock Creek chef Joshua Drage sources beef, elk and bison locally and makes healthy snacks like energy bars with kamut flakes, a whole-grain cereal. Doubles from $800, all-inclusive; 877-786-1545 or theranchatrockcreek.com.
Rough Way: Yellowstone's Madison and Canyon campgrounds
The Madison campground is 16 miles from Old Faithful; the Canyon campground is less than a mile from the biggest canyon along the Yellowstone River. yellowstonenationalparklodges.com.
Rockin' HK Outfitters
Rockin' HK Outfitters runs 90-mile horse-and-mule excursions that almost guarantee bighorn sheep, elk and grizzly bear spottings. $4,400 for a 10-day trip; rockinhk.com or 406-333-4505.
Carved by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Luxe Way: Amangiri
Made of concrete and stone in sand-colored tones that blend into the desert canyons and plateaus of southern Utah, this 34-suite resort is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Grand Canyon. It's also just 15 minutes from Lake Powell, which has nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline; the resort can arrange for geologist- and naturalist-led hikes as well as snorkeling and diving excursions to underwater rock carvings.
In addition to cooking at the Amangiri resort's restaurant, chef Matt Lash teaches classes on campfire-friendly recipes, such as skillet-seared whole trout stuffed with escarole. Doubles from $800; 877-695-3999 or amanresorts.com.
Rough Way: Grand Canyon's North Rim Campground
The Grand Canyon's North Rim area is wilder and more secluded than the South Rim, but reservations at its campground are still essential. 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov.
Grand Canyon Field Institute
Grand Canyon Field Institute offers four- and five-day photography and archaeology classes, as well as naturalist-led hikes. The class fees go toward supporting education and research in the park. Multiday classes from $450; 866-471-4435 or grandcanyon.org.
River rafting in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo courtesy of iStock.
Luxe Way: Three Forks Ranch
This 200,000-acre property on the Colorado-Wyoming border, a three-hour drive from Rocky Mountain National Park, is a working ranch where guests can help wrangle cattle. But most visitorsabout 30 at a time, maximumcome to fish. A mobile kitchen meets anglers to serve them lunches like grilled flatiron steak; at dinner, guests can choose from cult Napa bottlings like Opus One and Caymus. Three-night minimum stay, from $3,000 per person, all-inclusive; 970-583-7396 or threeforksranch.com.
Photo courtesy of Three Forks Ranch / Manny Rodriguez.
Grand Teton National Park has glacial lakes and awe-inspiring peaksGrand Teton is 13,770 feet.
Luxe Way: Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa
A ski resort in winter, this Jackson Hole, Wyoming, hotel is a mile from the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. Most of the 145 rooms have amazing views of the Grand Teton mountains and Snake River Valleythough perhaps the best view is from the 24-person rooftop hot tub at the 16,000-square-foot Solitude Spa. Chef Kevin Humphreys has revamped the menu to include dishes like cornmeal-crusted scallops and wild boar andouille. Doubles from $189; 800-631-6271 or tetonlodge.com.
Rough Way: Grand Teton's Jenny Lake Campground
Arrive early for a spot at one of the 49 tent sites herethere are no reservations. The site is a short hike from the crystal-clear lake, where campers can swim, canoe and find the trailhead for many hikes. gtlc.com.
Barker-Ewing's four-hour whitewater rafting expedition down the Snake River is beginner-friendly and travels through some of the deepest gorges in the river. From $60; 800-448-4202 or barker-ewing.com.
Grand Tetons Jenny Lake Campground. Photo courtesy of National Park Service.
With more than 500 miles of trails leading to waterfalls and vistas (including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail), Shenandoah National Park offers paths for both leisurely walkers and experienced hikers.
Luxe Way: Keswick Hall at Monticello
This 600-acre resort is only an hour's drive from Shenandoah National Park, near Virginia wine country and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's former estate. Set inside a Tuscan-style villa, the inn's 48 guest rooms feature canopied four-poster beds and antique furnishings like hand-painted armoires. The inn also boasts three pools, a spa and a signature golf course designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer.
Doubles from $395; 888-778-2565 or
Luxe Way: Charlottesville Activities
Nearby Charlottesville, Virginia, is home to rock star Dave Matthews's winery Blenheim Vineyards (tours by appointment; blenheimvineyards.com) and farm Best of What's Around (BOWA), as well as great restaurants. At Hamiltons' at First & Main, chef Jeanette Peabody prepares modern American cuisine highlighting BOWA produce. 101 W. Main St., Charlottesville; 434-295-6649.
Side note: In an F&W article, Dave Matthews discussed using BOWA produce to make this casserole at home.
Rough Way: Big Meadows Campground
This secluded spot is still close to many major facilities and popular hiking trails in the park. Three waterfalls are within walking distance. 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov.
Acadia National Park is the country's fifth-smallest national park, but every year, more than two million people visit its 120 miles of hiking trails, 45 carriage roads and Cadillac Mountainat 1,530 feet, the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard.
Luxe Way: The Harborside Hotel & Marina
This resort recently completed a multimillion-dollar redevelopment and now offers over 150 rooms and suites with balconies overlooking Frenchman's Bay. Puffin- and whale-watching tours depart from the Harborside Pier, and an on-site spa offers special treatments for hikers, like a cooling massage to help reenergize tired legs. Doubles from $140; 800-328-5033 or theharborsidehotel.com.
Rough Way: Blackwoods Campground
Within a 10-minute walk of the ocean, this campground also has the best access to trails. Reservations are recommended for camping from May 1 through October 31. 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov.
The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States is also home
to many rare and endangered species.
Luxe Way: The Villa by Barton G.
This 19,000-square-foot boutique hotel, with butler service, recently
opened in the former Versace Mansion in Miami Beach (an hour's drive
from Everglades National Park). The Villa Suiteonce the bedroom of fashion designer Gianni Versacefeatures a double king-size bed, two balconies,
seven closets and a custom oversize shower. One bedroom suites from
$1,900; 305-576-8003 or thevillabybartong.com.
Luxe Way: The Villa by Barton G.
At The Dining Roomthe hotel's 30-seat restaurantchef Jeff O'Neill (an alum of Aureole, Daniel, and Le Bernardin) creates dishes like vodka-cured salmon with mustard caviar and whole Dover sole with Vichy carrots. Fittingly, each course is plated on Versace-Rosenthal china.
This scenic spot, with many campsites overlooking the water, provides cold-water showers, picnic tables and grills. The area makes a prime location for saltwater fishing and is also close to several hiking and canoe trails. Reservations are strongly recommended. 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov.
Big Bend National Park
Covering 800,000 acres, the park encompasses the Chihuahuan Desert, the Rio Grande river and the Chisos Mountains.
Luxe Way: The Gage Hotel
In addition to being a hotelier, owner J. P. Bryan is an oil
tycoon and the great-great-nephew of Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas." Bryan's lineage (and riches) helped him acquire the Southwestern artifacts that decorate the hotel. In the property's 7.5-acre Gage Gardens, there are desert plants, fish ponds, a putting green and a quarter-mile walking trail. Doubles from $140; 432-386-4205 or
The largest developed campground in the park offers 100 sites. Since
it's located near the Rio Grande River, the area is ideal for observing wildlife. Reservations may be made up to 180 days in advance and are highly recommended, especially during spring break, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov.