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The Last of the Lodges: 25 American Greats

Ruby Springs Lodge 2487 Hwy. 287, Sheridan; 800/278-7829 or 406/842-5250, fax 406/842-5806; three-night minimum from $1,150 per person, including all meals. On the banks of Montana's legendary (at least in fly-fishing circles) Ruby River, this six-cabin lodge has a full-time staff of seven guides. If you don't like wading in cold water after slippery prey, the snow-capped mountain scenery also rates high. Most popular outing: a visit to Old Faithful, at nearby Yellowstone.

Triple Creek Ranch 5551 West Fork Stage Rte., Darby; 406/821-4600, fax 406/821-4666; doubles from $475, including all meals. Mirroring the surrounding peaks in the Bitterroot Valley, Triple Creek's pitched roof soars above the pine lodge. Your Big Sky encounter is tempered by creature comforts: the 18 cabins are handsomely outfitted with fireplaces, Indian-print throws, and log poster beds. Dine on Montana rainbow trout or venison, but save room for the fresh-baked cookies left at turndown.

CALIFORNIA

Lodge at Skylonda 16350 Skyline Blvd., Woodside; 800/851-2222 or 650/851-6625, fax 650/851-5504; doubles from $396, including all meals. Hovering above the fog line in a redwood forest, Skylonda is a modern 16-room log-and-stone spa retreat where mellow will become your mantra. Hang out on your private deck, soak in your personal hot tub (love the aromatherapy bath salts), or sign up for guidedhikes on nearby trails. But don't skip the herbal facial or paraffin pedicure. Roughing it can take a toll.

HAWAII

Lodge at Koele 1 Keamoku Dr., Lanai City; 800/321-4666 or 808/565-7300, fax 808/565-3868; doubles from $325. In Lanai's central highlands, the 102-room Lodge at Koele puts a tropical spin on the rustic life. Don't look for trophy heads or porch rockers: there's a collection of rare Pacific art in the great hall and a Japanese garden outside. Guest rooms, with hand-carved beds and Hawaiian paintings,are cooled by ceiling fans. If championship golf and snorkeling in Manele Bay seem tame, hire a Jeep and bump over red dirt roads to the eerie Garden of the Gods.

UTAH

Lodge at Red River Ranch 2900 Hwy. 24 West, Teasdale; 800/205-6343 or 435/425-3322, fax 435/425-3329; doubles from $90. Huntin' and fishin' are a big deal in this corner of Utah, so no one blinks when guests arrive with a carload of tackle or a bird dog. On 2,000 acres outside Capitol Reef National Park, this 15-room lodge has plenty of room for roaming. The Fremont River winds through the property; adjoining alpine meadows are perfect for hikes and wagon rides. Back at the ranch, frontier is the fashion with Navajo blankets, Southwestern art, and antique furniture.

COLORADO

Seven Lakes Lodge 738 County Rd., Meeker; 800/809-4772 or 970/878-4772, fax 970/476-5750;doubles from $2,120, including all meals. The best lodge that money can buy, Seven Lakes was built for corporate raider Henry Kravis. Commanding a private domain within White River National Forest, the lodge has eight suites and a three-bedroom lakeside cabin. Each guest is paired with a personal fishing guide, but ask head guide Wendy Williamson to reveal her favorite stretches of the White and she'll tell you a few whoppers (even if you don't catch any). While hiking or riding in neighboring Flat Tops Wilderness Area, brake for herds of elk roaming the range.

NEW MEXICO

Hacienda del Cerezo 100 Camino del Cerezo,Santa Fe County; 888/982-8001 or 505/982-8000, fax 505/983-7162; doubles from $600, including all meals. Expect to kick up a little dust on the five-mile dirt road that leads to this adobe ranch between the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. Purebred Arabians are stabled out back; plan a ride through the arroyos to the Rio Grande with Sarge McGraw, Cerezo's top wrangler. The 10 suites are decorated Santa Fe­style: Saltillo-tile floors, carved yellow-pine beams, kiva fireplaces, and native weavings. At sunset, float in the infinity pool and watch the desert sky catch fire.

Vermejo Park Ranch Raton; 505/445-3097, fax 505/445-3474; doubles from $650, including all meals. What happens when a billionaire gets bitten by the Western bug?He collects ranches, of course. Ted Turner's latest acquisition is Vermejo Park Ranch, 580,000 acres dotted with ghost towns, stagecoach station ruins, free-roaming bison, and a 51-room lodge. Guests stay in six stone cottages around the main lodge or in a six-bedroom cabin, and sightsee in ranch pickups. Worth a visit just to see Jane's decorating job.

TEXAS

Cullen Ranch 8824 County Rd. 2316, Quinlan; 888/839-4868 or 903/356-0944, fax 903/356-5110; doubles from $420, including all meals. Kevin Costner's last film may have bombed at the box office, but he's still a star guest at this 2,000-acre retreat. The six-room lodge has the 10-gallon look you expect deep in the heart of Texas: grand antler chandeliers, leather furniture so massive you disappear within its folds, and scads of hunting trophies on the walls. Big spenders from Dallas flock here to do some serious shooting. You have a choice of either 12- or 20-gauge Beretta over-and-under shotguns. And all those unsuspecting birds don't go to waste--the chef cooks up a mean pan-roasted quail with garlic mashed potatoes.

WISCONSIN

Canoe Bay Hogback Rd., Chetek; 800/568-1995 or 715/924-4594, fax 715/924-2078; doubles from $210, including breakfast. Frank Lloyd Wright meets Paul Bunyan at this lakeshore hideaway, an inn with nine double rooms and seven cottages. It's all done in the Prairie School look that Wright, a Wisconsin native, made famous earlier this century. The best bet is the redwood Dream Cottage, with a double whirlpool bath, a two-sided fireplace, and a deck overlooking Lake Wahdoon. Work up an appetite for dinner paddling the lake or bird-watching on private nature trails. Chef Matthew Voskuil prefers Great Lakes' produce for his five-course tasting menu; start with a chilled soup of strawberries and Wisconsin buttermilk, followed by pecan-crusted trout with local wild rice and apple cider beurre blanc.

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