The Best Hidden Gems

Escape to the high country for some summertime solitude at one of these off-the-beaten-path retreats

The Ranch at Rock Creek

Philipsburg, Montana

The Setting: Located near the historic mining town of Philipsburg in the heart of western Montana, not far from Missoula and Butte, the guest ranch sprawls across 10 square miles of rugged land that includes miles of trails, stocked trout ponds and a Blue Ribbon stretch of Rock Creek.

The Vibe: “True Grit” meets the Ritz

What You'll Love: Never needing to open your wallet: Each stay includes everything you could want to eat or drink, plus one morning and one afternoon activity per day. Accommodations in the Granite Lodge, private cabins and log homes juxtapose rough with luxe: pretty armchairs cozy up to stacked-stone fireplaces, rustic birch beds are topped with Frette linens, and polished clawfoot tubs rest atop weathered wood floors.

Don't Miss: Horseback riding through the ranch’s 6,000-plus acres of terrain, fly-fishing its four private miles of Rock Creek, and the sore-muscle-soothing “Rock Creek Ritual” at the spa.

Best Room: The creekside Canvas Cabins look like tents, but with private baths and fireplaces, they live like luxury hotel suites.

Info: From $1,900 per night. 877-786-1545,


Inn at Abeja 

Walla Walla, Washington

The Setting: A century-old farmstead in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, just minutes from Walla Walla in Washington’s sleepy southeastern corner. Meticulously restored farm buildings now house a winery and guest suites, all surrounded by 35 acres of lush lawns, gardens and vineyards.

The Vibe: A storybook farmhouse with an extra room—and seat at the breakfast table—just for you

What You'll Love: The charming accommodations, each located in one of the farmstead’s original outbuildings, including the old carriage house, summer kitchen and chicken coop. In addition to amenities that help you stay connected (satellite television, wireless Internet), you’ll find extras designed to help you unplug, from field guides and binoculars for birding to books and games—and private patios to enjoy them from.

Don't Miss: A visit to the onsite winery (and a taste of Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon) housed in a former horse barn.

Best Room: We love the little Bunk House, complete with a retro kitchen, clawfoot tub and views of the Estate Viognier vineyard.

Info: From $215 per night. 509-522-1234,


Post Hotel & Spa

Lake Louise, Alberta

The Setting: From the airport in Calgary, count on a two-hour-plus drive through Banff National Park to reach this hideaway. Perched on the Pipestone River, it’s just two miles from Lake Louise; the ski lifts are a quick shuttle ride away.

The Vibe: A luxury summer camp of old: warm, intimate and comfortable. Though the setting is rustic, men often don jackets for dinner in the cozy log-walled dining room.

What You'll Love: Swiss hoteliers (and brothers) André and George Schwarz’s attention to detail, which is evident at every turn. Guest rooms are immaculate, the cuisine is the area’s finest, and the staff treats each and every guest like kin. Come summer, flower boxes burst with blooms, and in winter, wood-burning fireplaces are always aglow.

Don't Miss: Afternoon tea on the lawn, dessert in the cozy fireplace lounge and, if it’s on the menu, chef Hans Sauter’s take on fresh British Columbia salmon.

Best Room: The Watson House, your very own 3,000-square-foot mountain lodge on the banks of the Pipestone River.

Info: From $345 per night. 800-661-1586,


Rustic Inn

Jackson, Wyoming

The Setting: The Rustic Inn isn’t exactly hidden—it sits just off the road that leads from the airport to town—but its private cabins are some of Jackson’s best-kept secrets. Located on 12 acres across from the National Elk Refuge, many overlook Flat Creek, which draws wildlife to its banks. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are an easy drive away.

The Vibe: A cozy stay with good friends (who make a mean breakfast!)

What You'll Love: Location, location, location. If you plan to play in and around town, there’s no need for a car. The inn’s shuttle will get you to and from the airport, a courtesy car will take you around town, and it’s a short stroll to Jackson’s restaurants, shops and galleries. Guest rooms and cabins are decorated with tasteful Western touches, and guests rave about the breakfasts included with each stay (try the famous granola).

Don't Miss: A “Mountain Tune Up” treatment at the inn’s spa and a drink at the bar, tended by some of the friendliest folks in town.

Best Room: The priciest option, the Superior Creekside King Cabins are popular for a reason: greater privacy and front-row views of Flat Creek and its resident wildlife.

Info: From $119 per night. 800-323-9279,


Rancho de San Juan

Espanola, New Mexico

The Setting: The high desert landscape that inspired artist Georgia O’Keeffe provides the backdrop for this Relais & Châteaux gem, situated where the Rio Grande, Ojo Caliente and Chama Rivers converge. Though isolated, the inn is convenient to Ghost Ranch, Bandelier, Chimayo and the Ojo Caliente hot springs; Santa Fe is a 45-minute drive away.

The Vibe: An exclusive house party in a traditional Spanish hacienda

What You'll Love: You won't get nightly turndown or room service, and there are no televisions or mini bars, but what you will enjoy is far more rare: real privacy, staff members who know you by name, and delicious, intimate breakfasts and three-course dinners included in your stay. Seven beautifully appointed guest rooms offer wood-burning fireplaces, private patios and surreal views of mountains, mesas and valleys.

Don't Miss: A hike up to the Sandstone Shrine, a spectacular structure carved into a sandstone butte on the side of Black Mesa.

Best Room: The secluded “Kiva” includes a circular main room with stargazing skylight, lighted niches adorned with kachinas, a wood-burning fireplace and whirlpool tub for two.

Info: From $350 per night. 505-753-6818,

Categories: Mountain Travel