Finding Romance in the Great Outdoors

Finding Romance in the Great Outdoors

Trips to reconnect with nature and your mate.

As a travel writer, I frequent five-star resorts in exotic locales, and fine hotels in the world’s great cities—but I made my most romantic memories in a campground along the Central California Coast. On a crisp, starlit June night at El Capitan Canyon, Damon and I shared a bottle of Zin by a roaring campfire. Then we retired to our cabin, snuggling under a fluffy duvet while the pit-pat of a light rain, singing crickets, and a rushing creek provided the soundtrack. Barry White couldn’t have done better.

What’s your idea of the ultimate romantic setting? Private motu in Tahiti, table for two at a Parisian bistro, fuzzy rug by the fireplace in Aspen? All good. But spectacular scenery and a secluded setting can be equally sexy and sumptuous—not to mention perfectly priced. Here’s a sampling of places, from almost rustic to downright regal, where the two of you can get back to nature:

Many national parks offer special couples’ packages. For example, at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the romance package includes a welcome basket with champagne, picnic for two, breakfast in bed, and two nights in a historic lodge. During the day, take waterfall walks, hike the Appalachian Trail, or go antiquing in quaint nearby towns. $299, (800) 778-2851,

Cabins at El Capitan Canyon  are angled along the creek for privacy, so nature and each other are all you see. But with a kitchenette, Jacuzzi, and fireplace at your disposal, you may never venture out. If you do, though, you can beach-comb, bike ride (on a free-to-borrow beach cruiser), or hike under oaks and sycamores. Ask the front desk to help map out a tour in nearby wine country (where Sideways was filmed). $285, (866) 352-2729,

You won’t be ruffin’ it at Paws Up’s Tent City on the Blackfoot River in the Montana wilderness, where more than 100 miles of private trails, s’mores, “turndown service,” a camping butler (handy for lighting fires), gourmet dining, feather beds, and even fine art on canvas walls are among the niceties. The price is $595 per day, meals included. The “Pawsitively Romantic” package includes three nights in a “Big Timber” home (rather than a tent), meals, sleigh rides in season, and massages. $2,563, (800) 473-0601,

Break open the piggybank for Bedwell River Outpost on Vancouver Island, which promises “soft adventure and soft beds”—not to mention saunas and hot tubs. Your opulent “suite tent” is nestled along the water’s edge in an ancient rainforest, and furnished with an Adirondack bed, down-filled duvet, antique dressers, glass oil lamps, heirloom china and silver, and a wood stove. The four-day “Wild Nights” package comes with horse-drawn wagon shuttle, meals, private fireside dinners, and massages overlooking the bay, plus kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and private picnics. $5,700 CAD (about $5,085 U.S. dollars) includes airfare from Vancouver. (888) 333-5405,