National Geographic Traveler
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April 2008
Stay List
United States - Central
United States - East
United States - West
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Minneapolis Guide

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The Little Book of Travel Wisdom

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The Stay List: U.S. West
Photo by Orchard Garden Hotel
Photo: Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco, California
The rooftop patio at Orchard Garden Hotel provides views of San Francisco.

Camp Denali, Denali National Park, Alaska
Rustic, family-owned outpost deep in the park. Hillside log cabins with handmade quilts, woodstoves, propane lights, hot plates. Vegetables grown in the on-site greenhouse. Explore glacial rivers, boreal forests, and alpine tundra with local naturalists. Grand scenery everywhere; even outhouses have views of nearby Mount McKinley. 18 cabins; $1,365-3,185 for 3 to 7 nights and all meals.

Kenai Backcountry Lodge, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
Roughing it in style. Fronting a glacier-gouged lake, the former 1930s hunting lodge camps out in the middle of 2.2 million truly spectacular acres (890,000 hectares) of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Remote, to be sure: accessible by boat only. Hand-hewn log cabins. Yukon tents. Staff naturalist. See moose. Drink Chardonnay. Take sauna. 10 rooms; $1,075-1,275 for two nights, all meals and activities included.

Sheraton Wildhorse Pass Resort and Spa, Chandler, Arizona
Modern resort run by Gila River Indian community in Sonoran Desert. Designed with guidance from Pima and Maricopa tribal elders. Authentic tribal prints in rooms; native basketry and pottery on display. Fire-pit storytelling sessions in winter. On-site golf, spa, and equestrian center. Nearby: some 1,500 wild horses. 500 rooms; $159-479.

Thunderbird Lodge, Chinle, Arizona
Former trading post on Arizona Navajo reservation at the mouth of Canyon de Chelly. Inside: pink adobe-style rooms with Navajo paintings, free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, air-conditioning. Native American food in dining hall. Outside: cottonwood trees, Navajo-guided tours of ruins. 74 rooms; $59-155.

Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, Tucson, Arizona
Spanish colonial property in desert foothills of Santa Catalina Mountains. Went from private girls school to hideaway for celebrities such as Clark Gable and John Wayne. On-site spa and restaurant. Handmade sleigh beds and armoires, painted tiles. Vintage swimming pool and hot tub with mountain views. 30 rooms; $109-495.

Hotel Congress, Tucson, Arizona
Downtown hotel and music hot spot with oldest cowboy bar in town. Southwestern art deco decor with copper highlights; restaurant floor made of 177,000 pennies (and one peso). Rooms outfitted with antique iron beds, old-fashioned radios, and rotary phones that connect to a 1930s switchboard. 40 rooms; $69-119.

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
Wild coast, wildly romantic property. Cliffside houses and rooms blend with native redwoods, oaks, and grasses. Soak tubs for two. Infinity pool for all. Spa with benefits: house shaman available for Destiny Retrieval and Divination sessions. Sierra Mar restaurant's seasonal organic dishes equally spiritual. 30 rooms; $550-2,185.

Miracle Manor Retreat, Desert Hot Springs, California
A streamlined "spa-tel" that offers up a mix of cool interiors and nurturing warmth. Hot springs, pool. Indigenous plants like cholla and barrel cactus. Organic cotton bedding, robes. No TVs. No phones. Just millions of stars in the night sky. 7 rooms; $435-600 for 2 nights.

Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco, California
Eco-chic; decidedly "green." The first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)–certified hotel in California. Rooms in tones of green, white, and gold with Egyptian-cotton sheets, organic bath products. Room key-card conservation (it snuffs your lights when you leave). Organic entrées, veggie soups, cheese-and-wine pairings at Roots restaurant. 86 rooms; $219-499.

El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara, California
A dandy mix of cool minimalism and just-right luxury: creek-side cabins and safari-style tents tucked into an oak-fringed Central Coast canyon. Beyond-room pleasures include yoga, wine tastings, beachcombing, hiking, horseback riding in the foothills. Enjoy a cabin barbecue prepared by your own "camp butler." Enhancement program for native coastal plants in full swing here. 108 cabins, 26 tents; $125-350.

Tenaya Lodge, Fish Camp, California
Hi, Sierras! A newly refurbished (2006) retreat. Carved grizzlies greet guests in lobby. Native art in the corridors. Cookouts. Hikes. Rooms done in alpine decor offer forest views and warm duvets. Low-flow plumbing to conserve water. Lights dimmed for eco-responsibility and nighttime stargazing. 244 rooms; $119-285.

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California
A tradition as inviolate as the park's famed Half Dome rock. The 1920s arts-and-crafts resort is all contrast: delicate stained glass and soaring stone fireplaces; massive beams and elaborate hand stenciling. Slate roofs and LED lighting. Historic Mural Room immortalizes native fauna and flora. 123 rooms; $400-990.

Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Denver, Colorado
Historic downtown grande dame has courted presidents and rock stars with its eight-story atrium lobby and Victorian-style rooms. Staff historian provides hotel tours. Property served by an original artesian well. Gracious afternoon tea. Cocktails and tapas in lobby. 241 guest rooms and suites; $189-425.

Dunton Hot Springs Resort & Spa, Dolores, Colorado
Tucked away along the Dolores River are a dozen 19th-century log cabins restored by Native American craftsmen and furnished in creature-comfort style. Soak in a tepee-sheltered spa with direct feeds of geo-thermal water. Yoga. Hiking. Dine on fresh-picked local chanterelles and beef from local ranches. 12 cabins; $300-475.

The Armstrong Hotel, Fort Collins, Colorado
A full refurbishment in 2004 polished a 1920s-era downtown gem. Down comforters on mod-looking beds set in contemporary Wi-Fi–enabled suites complement original pine floors. Traditional awnings green down electric costs. White-noise machines make for sweet dreams. 37 rooms; $89-149.

Redstone Inn, Redstone, Colorado
Old-fashioned resort tucked between pine trees and mountains in former coal-mining village. Swiss chalet architecture, centuries-old clock tower, hand-pegged craftsman furniture. In-room guest books detail history and geography of area. Snowshoeing and sleigh rides in winter; fly-fishing, hiking, and wine receptions on veranda in summer. 35 rooms; $60-235.

Mauna Lani Resort, Big Island, Hawaii
Authentically "green" long before the bandwagon was in full gear. On the largely unspoiled Kohala Coast; landscaped with native flora and saltwater ponds—ideal for raising young turtles (before releasing them to the wild, which is what goes on here). Local art, carved coconut wood, rattan furnishings in lush guest quarters. Outdoor spa: a breezy nine thatched huts. 343 rooms and 5 bungalows; $445-6,050.

Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa, Kauai, Hawaii
An oceanside marriage of grandeur and conscience. Hawaiiana galore: traditional arts, crafts, music, and luaus. Info in every guest room on the endangered monk seal. Serious recycling since 1995. 18,500 square feet (1,718 square meters) of solar panels to be installed this year. $430-5,400.

Waimea Plantation Cottages, Kauai, Hawaii
A cluster of authentic plantation workers' cottages from a 1900s sugar mill set in a coconut grove and furnished with period pieces. Mango, banyan, and banana trees. Surfing, snorkeling, homestyle luaus. The plantation helps support affordable worker housing, a church, and a hospital. 154 rooms; $155-1,300.

Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Maui, Hawaii
Four buildings with roomy rooms (400+ square feet [37+ square meters] apiece) outfitted with loads of comforts (including complimentary Kona coffee, the local brew). Strong on Hawaiian culture: Learn how to play the ukulele; leaf-printing; lei-making. Take a self-guided walk or a swim in the whale-shaped pool. Extensive community and preservation involvement. 432 rooms; $199-485.

River Dance Lodge, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Log cabins along Clearwater River blend into surrounding forest. When not white-water rafting and hiking (the lodge partners with ROW Adventures), soak in an outdoor hot tub or gather around a community fire pit. Closed mid-October through mid-April. 20 rooms (in 8 cabins); $149-329.

Grand Union Hotel, Fort Benton, Montana
Queen Victoria meets Wyatt Earp. The three-story, 1882 gray-stone grandee sat right at the center of the West's lively fur trade. Furnished in cowboy style with high ceilings, soft beds. What's more: Missouri River views, a microbrew saloon, and grilled buffalo at the Union Grille (the summer-only restaurant). Breakfast included year-round. 26 rooms; $85-180.

Good Medicine Lodge, Whitefish, Montana
Fashioned from stout cedar beams; inside, lodgepole-pine beds, Native American art, a vintage postcard collection of Glacier N.P., and mountain views set an authentic tone. Baths are luxuriously jetted; skiers are pampered with automatic boot dryers. New deck with hot tub and fire pit. Bonus: all-you-can-eat cookies. 9 rooms; $95-240.

El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa, Taos, New Mexico
Native American-inspired adobe-style property built in 2003 and already expanded. Sprawled across six acres at the foot of the Sangre de Cristos. Suites and casitas have walls painted with murals and private patios shaded by native cottonwood trees. Explore arts-oriented Taos; visit exhibitions at resort's own Grand Bohemian Gallery, whose gift shop is all about local art and jewelry. 84 rooms; $139-769.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico
Artist retreat at the end of quiet road. A 200-year-old adobe building with mud-plastered walls, kiva fireplaces, and hand-carved beds in rooms once graced by D.H. Lawrence and Georgia O'Keeffe. No TVs or phones means more time to explore in-house bookstore and read Lawrence. 19 rooms; $95-230.

Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Landmark 1929 adobe lodge atop mineral waters, surrounded by salamander-speckled cactus, succulents, and desert willows. Cowboy and Native American art panels sunlit rooms fashioned to soothe (two with private mineral bath). Alfresco geo-thermal hot spring tubs, mineral pools, and spa treatments. 18 rooms; $99-425.

Cannery Pier Hotel, Astoria, Oregon
A relative newcomer (2005) 600 feet (183 meters) from shore on the Columbia River. A fish cannery in the 19th century, the regional-art-adorned place now serves up locally caught sea fare and native Oregon wines. Complimentary trips into downtown Astoria in the Cannery's chauffeured 1939 Buick. Finnish sauna, day spa, in-suite fireplaces. 46 rooms; $159-550.

Hotel Elliott, Astoria, Oregon
A developer's votive to his hometown—a wood-paneled downtown hotel (built 1924, restored 2000, reopened 2003) that adds deco-style incandescence to this foggy river port. Suites have fireplaces, snuggly down duvets, heated stone bath floors. Basement wine bar for local vintages. 32 rooms; $169-650.

Sylvia Beach Hotel, Newport, Oregon
The last of Oregon's early 20th-century beach chalets. Fashioned from shipwreck lumber, this bluffside beachcomber—with its trademark teal and yellow paint job—sits 45 feet (13.7 meters) above the surf. Books everywhere; nary a TV. Nooks for reading and hot toddies. Gardens covered in roses and wild lupine. 20 rooms; $70-188.

McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale, Oregon
Brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin redefined community-friendly hotels, inviting neighbors to eat, meet, and drink in their 1960s-inspired West Coast hostelries. Former farm; rooms come dressed with chenille spreads and vintage furniture. Plus there's a Jerry Garcia bar and trippy murals. No TVs anywhere. But there's a golf course surrounded by native plantings and a brand-new outdoor heated pool. 114 rooms; $30-133.

Sundance Resort, Sundance, Utah
Native American-accented cottages at base of Mount Timpanogos born out of Robert Redford's desire to create a retreat centered around homegrown art and culture. Author series. Film screenings. Eco-friendly building practices and products. Pottery and painting classes at resort's Art Shack. 98 cottages, 10 mountain homes; $250-1,939.

Cave B Inn at SageCliffe, Quincy, Washington
Completed in 2005: A cliffside winery inn echoes surrounding hills in curved metal roofs, local basalt rock walls. Floor-to-ceiling guest room windows frame sunsets over the Columbia River Gorge, 900 feet (274 meters) below. Toast with a glass of Cabernet from adjoining Cave B Estate Winery. Organic garden provisions restaurant. 30 rooms; $160-550.

Hotel Vintage Park, Seattle, Washington
Downtown wine-themed hotel across the street from Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library. Gold and red tones punch up rooms; yoga TV channel, yoga mats supplied. Dedicated "wine concierge" organizes winery visits; nightly reception with on-the-house wines. 125 rooms; $139-695.

The Wort Hotel, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Downtown 1941 landmark sits one boardwalked block from town square. Frontier Western all the way: lodgepole-pine beds, cowhide pillows, regional art. Locals love it here: lobby fireplace is a popular meeting spot; the lively Silver Dollar Bar, true to its name, is embedded with 2,032 coins. 59 rooms; $169-699.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Icon of "park-itecture" neighbors namesake geyser. Soaring lodgepole-pine lobby with central stone fireplace; guest rooms, from wood-paneled rustic (with shared facilities) to suites with fridges. Eco gold star: short-haul supply transport by electric vehicles. 327 rooms; $96-481.

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