Ahh, summer. A whirlwind of sunny days, alfresco meals, refreshing cocktails, and...balmy temperatures. Here are 10 spots where you can trade raging humidity for cool mountain air.
Grande Denali Lodge, Denali National Park, Alaska
Alpine tundras meet snowy mountain peaks, icy lakes, and clean, clear air in Alaska’s Denali National Park, where some six million acres of rugged wilderness and free-roaming wildlife are broken only by a single 92-mile road. You can always camp in the park (it is half the size of Switzerland), but we have a soft spot for the Grande Denali Lodge, whose perch on Sugarloaf Mountain provides 360-degree views of Denali and the Nenana River canyon. Dine-in options aren't too shabby either: at Peak Spirits Lounge, you can put away wild-caught Alaskan seafood from Alpenglow and sip on an Alaskan Mosquito (Mojito) or local microbrew in the midnight sun. When you're not noshing, there's plenty of outdoor pursuits to pass the time, from fishing and mountaineering to cycling to hiking (Horseshoe Lake Trail and McKinley River Bar Trail are favorites). Before you leave, stop by the sled dog kennels to meet the husky pups – the park's pride and joy – and watch a demonstration. Those visiting in August might even get the chance to welcome the newest litter.
Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park, Washington
Seventy miles of Olympic National Park coastline means endless options for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and rafting during your Pacific Northwest getaway. Bed down at the historic Lake Crescent Lodge, full of homey turn-of-the-century touches and roaring stone fireplaces, before getting a jump on all of the outdoorsy activities the area has to offer. The rocky coast of Ruby Beach is a must-see, where rock formations and driftwood provide the perfect home for tufted puffins and tidal pools conceal starfish, anemones, and crabs (just look out for the clear jellyfish, who also have an affinity for the place). Squeeze in a hike in the lush Hoh Rain Forest, a stretch so green and mossy that it looks straight out of a Disney movie, before relaxing your tired muscles with a dip in the thermal mineral pools at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort before day's end.
West Street Hotel, Acadia National Park, Maine
Unlike the West Coast with its manageable dry heat, New England has some notoriously muggy summers — but you can ditch some of the stickiness on a detour through Acadia National Park in Maine. Throw down your bags at the chic West Street Hotel in coastal Bar Harbor, where a slick adults-only rooftop pool looks out onto Frenchman's Cove and is a welcome respite after a long day of exploration. Two miles down the road, in Acadia, take a warm-up stroll down the leisurely Wonderland Trail, which weaves through evergreen forest and past rocky shoreline (keep an eye out for loons and chickadees, among other birds). Thanks to the contributions of John D. Rockefeller Jr., there are also 45 miles of scenic carriage roads that run through the park, where visitors can bike or horseback ride.
RELATED: A Summer Road Trip in Southern Maine
Belton Chalet, Glacier National Park, Montana
The Swiss-style Belton Chalet has been hosting Glacier National Park visitors for more than 100 years. While the hotel has lived more than a few lives since its opening (it was once a pizzeria, a bakery, and a part-time café) and has since been remodeled, you can still find some of the same original thrills. Feel the wind on your face during a tour of the park in a vintage 'jammer' – a canvas-topped, 17-passenger red automobile circa 1939. Looking for something more active? Hike from Logan Pass to Hidden Lake while breathing in fresh alpine meadow air and crossing paths with mountain goats. Of course, any Glacier National Park trip wouldn't be complete without spending time on the two-lane, 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road. Drive the road in full (it takes about two hours) or claim a spot on the free shuttle.
Fireside Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The mod meets rustic cabins of Fireside Resort are screaming our names this summer, and while the chocolate leather couches, exposed beams and cozy front porches make a great excuse for staying in, the vast backcountry of Grand Teton National Park ultimately beckons. Get hyped as you see the Tetons from a new perspective on a scenic flight, or unwind as you aimlessly float down Snake River on an inner tube. Those looking for photo ops will want to drop by the open prairie lands of Antelope Flats along Mormon Row. There you'll find barns and homesteads from Jackson Hole's original Mormon settlers – including the iconic John Moulton barn (pictured above) – set against a striking blue sky, cotton-puff clouds and the snowcapped Teton range. Whether you're shooting on a primo DSLR or a now ancient iPhone 4, it's impossible to take a bad photo.
Lake Placid Lodge, The Adirondacks, New York
Farm-to-table dining, romantic wraparound porches, and an idyllic green lawn that extends right up to the shores of Lake Placid await at Lake Placid Lodge, in the heart of New York's Adirondack Mountains. Whether you choose a room in the main lodge or a more private luxury cabin, most of your time will be spent outside, soaking in the crisp mountain air and breezes off the lake. Borrow a mountain bike from the lodge to explore the surrounding woodlands, arrange a whitewater rafting session on the Hudson, or spend an afternoon in the treetops at Wild Walk, an elevated wooden path complete with swinging bridges, a twig tree house, and a massive spider-web–like hammock that suspends you three stories above the forest floor.
RELATED: 67 Things to Do for Free in New York
Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen may be a skier's paradise, but the city pumps out summer fun just as well as powdery snow. Settle into the ultra-luxe Little Nell, which provides easy access to downtown, Aspen Mountain, Wagner Park, and (perhaps most importantly) the 20,000-bottle wine cellar on site. One look at the Maroon Bells — two Rocky Mountain peaks mirrored by Maroon Lake and blanketed in fields of wildflowers — and you'll understand why they're one of the state's most photographed features. To really get the blood flowing, take a spin down Roaring Fork River with Aspen Whitewater Rafting, where you can try your luck at group rafting or take matters (and fate) into your own hands aboard an inflatable kayak known as a 'Ducky.'
Topnotch Resort, Stowe, Vermont
Stowe, with its little white steeples, historic ski resorts, covered bridges, and tiny downtown packed with mom-and-pop general stores, sets the standard for small-town New England charm — and Topnotch Resort lets its sublime setting shine, blending perfectly into nature with a sophisticated (yet still rugged) design. Ease into the day with a maple latte at Black Cap Coffee while discussing your game plan for visiting Smugglers' Notch State Park. The more active can hike Sterling Pond Trail to the summit for unforgettable views of Sterling Pond (and, on a clear day, distant Montreal). However, if sightseeing is more your speed, hit up some of Vermont's best galleries, glassblowing studios, and sculpture parks along the 'Mountain Road' (Route 108) that winds through Smugglers' Notch Pass and picturesque villages between Stowe and Jeffersonville.
RELATED: 50 States of Awesome: the Northeast
The Lodge at Woodloch, The Poconos, Pennsylvania
Those looking to escape New York City's steamy sidewalks and perpetual stench that pops up summer after summer flee for the Poconos, a bucolic region in northeastern Pennsylvania roughly 2.5 hours away. Head to the adults-only Lodge at Woodloch for a retreat packed with farm-to-table meals, wine tastings, and spa treatments bookended by afternoons spent by cozy stone fireplaces and tranquil soaking pools. While we wouldn't blame anyone who chose to spend all of their time there (we're eyeing the lake-view porch off of the library ourselves), there's also much to see and do outside the resort. One option: exploring the Pocono Mountains at Bushkill Falls, dubbed the Niagara of Pennsylvania, where eight cascading waterfalls are connected by a series of hiking trails, observation decks, and wooden bridges.
The LARK, Bozeman, Montana
While Bozeman is a destination in its own right, it also happens to be an ideal starting point for trips to Yellowstone National Park. First, check into The LARK, a hotel so proud of its hometown that it encourages guests to spend most of their time outside the property (just look to the funky Montana infographics and maps plastered on guest room walls and in-house local guides with a penchant for everything Bozeman). Make time for Custer Gallatin National Forest, just minutes from the hotel and a perfect place to picnic, hike, fish, or take scenic drives through landscapes straight out of a Bob Ross painting. From here, you can start your mini road trip to Yellowstone (just under three hours away), making detours to the chilly waters of Cascade Creek via Lava Lake Trail and the tumbling geysers and waterfalls of Fairy Falls Trail.