River Camp at The Resort at Paws Up
The gold standard of the upscale version of experiencing the great outdoors, a stay at one of the upscale campsites at Montana's Resort at Paws Up will have even the most rugged backwoodser questioning his spartan ideals. Situated along the Blackfoot River (the very same that inspired 'A River Runs Through It'), Paws Up's "glamping" (glamorous camping, naturally) sites are the epitome of luxury and comfort: For the River Camp, your tent is a mere cast away from the water, and, by the way, is actually a sumptuously furnished, house-sized living space with canvas walls and roof, plus electricity and en suite bathroom. Nights are spent by a crackling campfire enjoying s'mores (prepared by your personal butler, naturally) before drifting off to sleep with the sounds of a gentle wind blowing through the trees and the distant bugle calls of elk.
Creature comforts aside, though, the real draw is the exceptional beauty of Montana, and the chance to experience it with a little adventure. For many, that comes in the form of rappelling down a huge, 167-foot cliff – said to be the same spot where Meriwether Lewis once stood as he crossed the U.S. – with a view of the Blackfoot River below that's simply breathtaking. Other activities we partook in were archery, ATV-ing through the mountain valleys (which you can also do on horseback), and a sweet massage in a tent with a view of the valley. Every morning, we'd wake up to beautiful sunrises with herds of cows off in the distance. The food at Paws Up's onsite restaurant Pomp is as good as anything you'll find in the big city. That said, as a vegetarian, this writer didn't try any of the hallmark meat dishes (the huckleberry pancakes were pretty awesome, though).
Naturally, Paws Up offers plenty of activities that don't require an adrenaline spike. After all, Montana is world famous for fly fishing, and the best way to spend a tranquil morning is by casting your line in the Blackfoot River while watching the sunrise over the nearby mountains. One of the most beautiful moments we experienced came during a helicopter ride, when we crossed over a herd of horses, which began to chase us as we flew by. The sound of the hooves running in the field almost made our entire group cry. The guy who works at Paws Up had never seen anything like it. That pretty well describes an experience here. [From $1,175, pawsup.com]