10 Greatest Escapes in America

Get away without going far away. These amazing destinations are fun, beautiful, and just a few hours from home.

By Charles Runnette

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Wild Adventure
Willow, Alaska

Escape from e-mail, cell phones, and any other contact with the modern world at deep-in-the-woods Birch Pond Lodge. Seventy-five miles north of Anchorage, this remote refuge sits on 100-plus beautiful acres of birch and white spruce forests and has jaw-dropping views of snowcapped Mount McKinley. The lodge is filled with comfortable overstuffed furniture; the property's two cozy cabins, handcrafted from trees felled by spruce bark beetles, feature wood-burning stoves and solar power. Favorite daytime activities include hiking into the neighboring 22,685-acre Nancy Lake Recreation Area; paddling lake to lake in a canoe; tracking moose, lynx, and marmots; or taking a salmon-fishing trip in one of the crystal-clear rivers. After an invigorating day of nature, you'll love returning to the lodge for a hearty dinner of freshly caught fish, delicious local produce, and hand-cranked ice cream.

If you dare visit Birch Pond in winter, when the temperature can drop to 30 degrees below zero and the snow can reach four feet, there are some rare treats in store for you: dog-sledding trips, cross-country skiing in the park, and nighttime excursions on skis to see the awe-inspiring northern lights. Rooms, $380 to $500 per night, double occupancy (two-day minimum stay; includes meals and activities); birchpondlodge.com

 

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