The 9 Most Fun Adventure Lodges in North America

Outside Online (April 23, 2024) by Graham Averill

Base camp might be my favorite two words in the English language. Base camp is where you stage the next excursion, or refuel with a bowl of stew, or a beer. You rest and recover there. If you’re lucky, you can slip into a hot tub or cold spring, because base camps don’t always have to be a tent or in the back of your truck. Sometimes, base camp can be a lodge with soft sheets and a chef.

I’ve gathered a handful of my personal favorite adventure lodges and picked a few more destination hotels and chalets on my bucket list. Some of them are high-end and  worthy of a splurge, while others are downright affordable. All of them are chosen specifically for their locations and adventures they offer, putting visitors within reach of dramatic landscapes while providing gear, know-how, and sometimes in-house guides. Because occasionally it’s nice not to have to plan everything yourself.

The Gravel House Hotel, Patagonia, Arizona

You may not have heard of Patagonia, Arizona, a tiny town of 800-ish sitting at the base of the Patagonia Mountains, near the Mexico border. Much of the surrounding land is protected by the Coronado National Forest, which houses a chunk of the 700-mile Arizona Trail, while a lifetime of gravel rides begin and end in the two-block downtown.

The Gravel House is a collection of homes and a small hotel with nine rooms and a communal kitchen, all in the heart of town. The hotel is owned by cycling guide and chef Zander Ault, who you can hire to whip up regional delicacies like green chile stew and carne asada tacos. He and his team can also lead you on day rides through plains of shimmering grass flanked by the 7,000-foot Patagonias, which were capped with snow when I was there last spring. I loved the riding, which had me pedaling firm gravel through narrow canyons to historic ruins and across broad grasslands to the Mexican border before returning to town for a cold beer.

The Adventure: You can hike or mountain bike a slice of the Arizona Trail, but the gravel is the magic here. I’ve stayed at The Gravel House, spending three days exploring the lonely roads of the area, and want to return to it and the landscape. Elevation gain is moderate, so you can cover a lot of ground exploring canyons and prairies that butt up against the border with Mexico, just 18 miles away. Check out the 30-mile Alto Ghost Town ride, which climbs to the ruins of a mining camp from 1933.


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