8 Outdoorsy Trips Perfect for Retirees Who Love Spending Time in Nature
For most active travelers, the ideal destination has everything in one place or nearby, allowing you to settle in before you get out and explore. That was our goal in compiling this list of resorts — most of which include dining options, a variety of outdoor activities, and all the amenities that make a stay comfortable and luxurious. Once you arrive you can take your time to get acquainted with the landscape and then choose to stay busy or take it easy based on your mood.
As an added bonus, most properties offer convenient transportation, so you can get by without a car, and several are located near national parks.
Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho
There’s plenty to do during every season at Sun Valley, so take your pick of snow sports, ice skating, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, tennis, and golf. When you’re ready to lounge indoors, there’s bowling, movies, and spas. You can stay at the recently renovated Sun Valley Lodge, with its large guestrooms, spa, fitness center, yoga studio, and glass-enclosed outdoor pool. Or, book a stay at the Austrian chalet style Sun Valley Inn, which was also remodeled recently and has its own outdoor pool and fitness center. Condos, townhomes, and cottages are also available.
The city’s event schedule includes concerts, ice shows, films, mountaintop yoga, and more. Stargazers will be glad to know that Sun Valley and nearby Ketchum are part of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, so staring at the Milky Way and thousands of twinkling stars is part of the area’s nightly entertainment.
Complimentary bus service makes getting the city around easy and transportation throughout the Wood River Valley and to the towns of Ketchum and Elkhorn Springs is provided for guests.
Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri
The perfect combination of rustic and luxurious is set in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains where the Big Cedar Lodge offers an assortment of places to stay, dine, fish, and play. With three grand lodges, cozy cottages, log cabins, and luxury camping, you’ll find just the right place to sleep after a day of enjoying your favorite activities. Kayaks, paddle boats, and canoes beckon you to Table Rock Lake where you can try your hand at fishing for bass.
Five golf courses, including next year's 19-hole championship course designed by Tiger Woods and named in honor of the late Payne Stewart, give golfers plenty of options. Or you can take up sporting clay shooting in one of the thoughtfully designed venues that provide introductory lessons for first timers. Jogging and walking trails, a fitness center, and heated pools provide plenty to do.
When the day is done, enjoy a massage at Cedar Creek Spa before heading out for dinner at one of the many dining spots that range from fine dining to casual, al fresco to rustic lodge.
Snake River Sporting Club in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Less than an hour from Grand Teton National Park on nearly 1,000 acres of wilderness is Snake River Sporting Club, a year-round adventure destination for nature lovers. Hiking, mountain biking, golf, horseback riding, tennis, pickleball, fly-fishing, canoeing, paddleboarding, and rafting are just a few summer options, and when the snow begins to fall it’s time for downhill and cross-country skiing, sledding, and ice skating. On-site instruction in sporting clay shooting, fly-fishing, equestrian, and mountaineering is also available.
For a comfortable homebase, you can stay in a tiny cabin in Discovery Village along the Snake River Canyon or choose an elegant Fairway Lodge home set along the Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course that offers plenty of room for additional guests. In summer, glamping ensures you’re never far from the backpacking and horseback riding adventures found in the Bridger Teton National Forest.
Dine at one of several welcoming restaurants and club houses — and don’t miss a poolside meal at the Double Barrel Cantina.
Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee
About 25 minutes from Knoxville on 4,200 acres that borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is Blackberry Farm. This East Tennessee setting is the perfect destination for nonstop outdoor activities or indulgent relaxation.
Cooking demonstrations, wine and whiskey tastings, brewery visits, and farming lessons will make exploring the culinary side of Blackberry Farm an exciting and delicious experience — surpassed perhaps only by the farm’s memorable meals.
Days pass quickly thanks to activities like horseback riding, cycling along country roads or mountain trails, fly-fishing, hiking, archery, paddle sports, and boating. Slower-paced activities include carriage rides, spa treatments, or just sitting and enjoying the beauty of the area. Sporting clay shooting and paintball competitions are a fun activity for groups and a variety of plush accommodations are available including guestrooms, suites, cottages, and 3- to 4-bedroom homes.
Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge in Emigrant, Montana
Set on the northern border of Yellowstone National Park, Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge offers park explorations paired with experiences you thought only existed in Western films. You can move cows with wranglers, take a wilderness trail ride, wait for Old Faithful to erupt, or see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. For views, hike around Merrill Lake or explore the park’s petrified forest. White water rafting trips that range from a few hours to an all-day excursion can be arranged. Clay and target shooting can be fun, and many guests enjoy leisurely strolls watching for some of the many bird species nearby.
Fishing is also a big attraction at Hubbard’s, with plenty of rivers, streams, lakes, and creeks nearby. Float fish on the Yellowstone River or wade fish in Yellowstone’s streams and watch for bison while you wait for a bite.
The best thing about Hubbard’s, according to those who’ve stayed there, is the staff who make every visit an exciting and memorable experience. At day’s end, a massage at the spa, a delicious dinner, and comfortable bed in the lodge or a cabin will have you sound asleep in no time at all.
Pronghorn Resort in Bend, Oregon
Located in Central Oregon’s high desert, Pronghorn Resort is about 30 minutes from Bend and three hours from Portland. Two golf courses at the resort and many others in the area attract golfers, but there’s a lot more to do than just golf. Mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, and hiking are some of the many outdoor activities that take advantage of the area’s sunny days and cool nights.
There’s also rafting and kayaking on the Deschutes River whose bend gave the town its name. In winter, snow on the surrounding peaks attracts skiers and snowmobilers.
At the resort, outdoor heated pools, hot tubs, lawn games, tennis, e-bikes, scooters, and cruisers keep guests busy and entertained. There’s an array of lodging options that now includes the new Huntington Lodge with Cascade Mountain views, luxury amenities, private terraces, fireplaces, and a spa.
Dining at the resort ranges from casual spots to the newly renovated Cascada, with an outdoor terrace and mountain views.
Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina
Palmetto Bluff is set amid 20,000 acres of pristine land in the low country of South Carolina between Hilton Head Island and Savannah. Much of the resort is sheltered by century-old oaks that are draped in wispy Spanish moss.
The May River is the place to be for paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing, and fishing can be found on nearby ponds and lakes. Visitors can stroll, bike, or jog on the extensive trail system that winds through the development, or explore it by horse.
The May River Golf Course provides another opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. The annual Field and Fire event celebrates the sporting heritage of the Bluff, with demonstrations on fishing, clay shooting, sporting dogs, trained birds of prey, art, music, and Southern cuisine. Various other events continue throughout the year, including the organization’s artist in residence program that recognizes the arts through exhibits and hands-on education.
Nakoma Resort in Clio, California
Less than an hour north of Lake Tahoe is Nakoma Resort. The resort sits in an area known as the Lost Sierra that’s surrounded by mountain peaks and the Plumas National Forest.
It combines outdoor life with luxury amenities and offers 42 guestrooms at the Lodge at Nakoma, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed clubhouse, fitness center, and spa. The Altitude Recreation Center is home to a heated pool, climbing wall, sauna, lap pools, and theater, and the Wigwam Bar and Dining Room offers warm ambience, cocktails, and excellent cuisine.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find mountain biking and hiking on mountain trails, fly-fishing, kayaking, swimming, and boating on nearby lakes when the snow melts. Nakoma’s 18-hole championship course, the Dragon, boasts mountain vistas and magnificent views from every tee.
When snow covers the mountains, guests enjoy tubing, riding fat bikes along snowy trails, and cross-country skiing. Snowmobile tours can also be arranged.
Outdoor fun and scenic beauty without the crowds of other Lake Tahoe resorts make Nakoma an attractive option any time of the year.