There’s nowhere better to reconnect with nature than the wide-open spaces of the USA and Canada, whose varied landscapes incorporate mountain highs, dramatic coastlines and desert scenery. There are so many ways to enjoy outdoor life, too, from simple walks to hot-air ballooning. Here’s our pick.
Cattle ranching and mountain sports – Triple Creek Ranch, Montana
Yee-haw! Unleash your inner cowboy and saddle up for a cattle drive, moving herds the old-fashioned way, against a panoramic mountain backdrop. Or ride out on a trail once travelled by explorers Lewis & Clark. There’s something for everyone at this upmarket ranch, from archery to yoga in the fresh mountain air, and much of it is complimentary. Meditate in the Montana wilderness, go hiking and biking on the mountain slopes, enjoy the thrill of white-water rafting or the quiet of a downriver drift. And, if you catch a fish, the kitchen will cook it for dinner.
Tennis and yoga - Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, San Diego
Anyone for tennis? There are 18 outdoor courts to choose from here, including two red European clay courts, three pickleball courts and clinics and lessons for all levels. But you don’t need to be a racquet-sports fan to enjoy this relaxed Southern Californian ranch with its hacienda-style casitas – you can practice asanas in the outdoor yoga pavilion, enjoy exercise classes amid the orange and olive groves, and set off on a nature trail walk on the 45 lush acres. Or hop on one of the resort's Pinarello bicycles and explore further afield. Golfers can tee off using a complimentary Callaway golf club set on private and public golf courses nearby.
Explore the Great Smoky Mountains - The Swag, North Carolina
If you can tear yourself away from the staggering views of North Carolina’s peaks from this high-altitude wood and stone retreat, there’s plenty to explore in the big outdoors. The Swag shares a mile-long border with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, perfect for simple strolls or challenging climbs, and organises hikes with its resident guides, authors, artists and naturalists. Back at base, take time to swing in the hammock for two while watching the hummingbirds, or have a romantic picnic lunch in the treehouse. There’s riding and fly fishing nearby or how about croquet with a 50-mile view?
Hot-air ballooning above New Mexico - The Inn of the Five Graces, Santa Fe
It’s both serene and spectacular floating above Las Barrancas (The Ravines) in a hot-air balloon. The air adventure is just one of the activities that can be arranged from this Santa Fe adobe and stone inn, whose secluded flower-filled courtyards outside opulent rooms lend it a peaceful air. It’s just 15 minutes on a bike to pristine forests with quiet trails, while nearby golf courses come with superb mountain or high desert views. New Mexico’s waterways offer both the solitude of fishing secret mountain creeks and the thrills of white-water rafting excursions on the Rio Grande.
Moose safari by boat – Blair Hill Inn, Maine
Moose outnumber people by three to one in the Moosehead Lake region, so you’ve got a good chance of spotting one as well as bears, beavers and bald eagles while paddling through quiet waters on a canoe safari, or driving through the back woods. It’s a place to explore on foot, too, whether on a 30-minute ramble to an isolated mountain pond or an all-day hike to Gulf Hagas, the ‘Little Grand Canyon’ of Maine. Back at the ten-room inn, with its magnificent lake views, the fiery sunsets are sublime. The end to a perfect day takes the form of a star-watching canoe trip beneath an inky night sky.
Wild adventure - Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, Vancouver Island
Getting to Clayoquot by float plane is part of the adventure; an hour’s scenic flight from Vancouver, the secluded lodge feels a world away. This is Vancouver Island’s untamed but enchanted back garden, with views from the luxury tents of glacial peaks and seals bobbing in the bay. Tick off bears and whales on nature tours heading down Clayoquot Sound, then try canyoning in the river. If the long list of complimentary activities – including rock climbing, mountain biking, horse riding and tree climbing – isn’t sufficient, you can take an optional helicopter trip into an even more remote world.
Sandy shores and thick forests - The Wickaninnish, Vancouver Island
You know why they call it nature’s edge when you see the Wick’s position on a rocky outcrop overlooking Chesterman Beach, with jaw-dropping ocean views through floor-to-ceiling windows and a backdrop of old growth cedars and spruces. It’s a place meant for exploring, whether on rainforest rambles through the Pacific Rim National Park or on excursions along the wave-lashed shore, with its dunes and blowholes. Grab one of the hotel’s bikes and ride to Tofino for sea kayaking and surfing, and be sure to take a wildlife-spotting tour to see bears and whales. This is nature at its wildest, most untamed best.