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Kaibab Lake Campground

From camping to glamping, we pick our favorite spots for seeing the sights of the West and beyond

From tent to trail: campgrounds with perks

Kaibab Lake Campground

Kaibab Lake CampgroundArizona

Nobody likes campgrounds so cramped that the neighbor’s snoring ruins a star-filled night’s sleep. One cool thing about Kaibab Lake Campground is the spaciousness of the grounds, allowing ample elbow (knee and ankle) room between you and the next tent over. Another plus is the proximity of Grand Canyon — about an hour’s drive north — minus the touristy crowds of Grand Canyon Village. And even if you don’t feel like trekking North America’s biggest crevice, Kaibab Lake has plenty to keep you busy for a couple days: boating, fishing, interpretive programs in the outdoor amphitheater, and a campground host with firewood, ice, bait and ice cream! — HK

In Kaibab National Forest, off Route 64 a couple miles north of Williams, Arizona, 928-635-5600,

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Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Pahranagat National Wildlife RefugeNevada

Pahranagat is a slice of peace a short drive from the bustle of the city. About an hour and a half north of Las Vegas, these 5,000 acres of protected lakes, marshes and meadows are a haven for wildlife and the people who enjoy it — either for watching (birds), catching (fish) or hunting (again, birds). This wetland habitat is a key stop on the north-south Pacific migration flyway, so birds flock there in spring and fall. The campground is free, first-come-first-serve, and on the Upper Pahranagat Lake. It’s fairly primitive, with no electrical, water or waste facilities, just pit toilets. A visitors center is under construction now. — HK

Just off U.S. 93, the Great Basin Highway, 775-725-3417,


Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park


You’d think a national park built around the ruins of an ancient civilization would appeal to archaeology buffs only. And you’d be wrong — if you’re thinking about Mesa Verde, anyway. No one can resist the chance to climb a rickety ladder up into a cliff dwelling or down into a kiva, where expert guides bring to life the culture of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived there from A.D. 600 to 1300. Even after you’ve soaked up all the history you can stand, Mesa Verde has another few days’ worth of outdoor activities: mountain biking, hiking trails (including backcountry), twilight cliff tours and other evening programs. Morefield Campground has 267 sites, and primitive camping is allowed during two short periods in spring and fall. — HK

In Southwestern Colorado, an hour east of Cortez, Colorado, off Highway 160, 970-529-4465,


Sleep in, hike later: bed & breakfasts

Casa Escondida

Casa Escondida

Casa EscondidaNew Mexico

Nestled in the rural outskirts of Española, New Mexico, Chimayo is a sacred destination for Catholics and a fascinating cultural site for tourists. It’s home to the famous Santuario de Chimayo, where a miracle is supposed to have happened in the early 19th century; thousands of people make pilgrimages there each year to touch its “holy dirt.” The amenities of Casa Escondida — spacious rooms filled with rustic antiques, kiva fireplaces, an outdoor hot tub, home-cooked New Mexican meals served family-style on the patio — more than compensate for the mediocrity of the surrounding neighborhood. And Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument and many other Northern New Mexico treats are a stone’s throw away. — HK

64 County Road 100, Chimay, New Mexico (about an hour north of Santa Fe), 505-351-4805,


Canyons Bed & Breakfast


With its myriad slot canyons, sandstone arches, aspen forests and streams that spill into waterfalls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a paradise for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Those who like to climb, hike and scramble by day and luxuriate by night will appreciate the gourmet meals and personalized innkeeper service of Canyons Bed & Breakfast in Escalante, Utah. Converted from a 1905 pioneer farmhouse, the grounds still boast lawns, gardens and orchards where guests can stroll, lounge or snooze in a hammock. If the gorgeous landscapes aren’t enough to keep you busy for a long weekend, take Highway 12 northeast to Boulder, Utah, where art galleries and the Anasazi State Park Museum await. — HK

120 E. Main St., Escalante, Utah (about an hour east of Bryce Canyon National Park off Highway 12), 435-826-4747,


Stay and play: boutique comforts and small luxuries

Furnace Creek Ranch

Furnace Creek Ranch

Furnace Creek FanchCalifornia

Furnace Creek Ranch is an Old West-inspired oasis in Death Valley National Park. The hotel is ideal for families who want to explore the desert, but aren’t thrilled by the idea of sleeping in a tent. Guests can enjoy the comfortable rooms, spring-fed pool and 18-hole golf course (the world’s lowest in elevation). After a day exploring the nearby Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes or the Golden Canyon interpretive trail, try the ranch’s Corkscrew Saloon for a locally brewed Badwater Ale. If your idea of unwinding involves history instead of a cold beer, visit Furnace Creek’s small but fascinating Borax Museum. — SV

328 Greenland Blvd., Death Valley National Park, California, 800-236-7916,


Hotel California


Palm Springs may be best known for its old Hollywood glamour and mid-century design aesthetic, but the city also serves as a jumping-off point for outdoor adventures. Spend the day mountain-biking or rock-climbing at Joshua Tree National Park, or ride the aerial tram at Mount San Jacinto State Park. After you’ve explored the Coachella Valley, retreat to the quiet 14-room Hotel California, where guests can lounge by the pool amid lush landscaping. If you’re ready to splurge, book the hotel’s Spanish Mission-style casita, which has a private patio, full kitchen and ample space to spread out and relax. — SV

424 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California, 760-322-8855,


Hermosa Inn

Hermosa Inn


Hermosa InnFor the right combination of nature and luxury, plan a weekend getaway to Phoenix. Stay at the Hermosa Inn, a boutique hotel in Scottsdale, where you can unwind with poolside yoga or a deep tissue massage at the on-site Blue Door Spa Suite. For fresh-air fun, climb one of the popular (and steep) trails that lead to the top of nearby Camelback Mountain for expansive views of the city. Recover from your climb by returning to the Hermosa Inn for dinner at Lon’s, where produce is harvested from the kitchen’s own organic garden. — SV

5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Scottsdale, Arizona, 602-955-8614,

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