1. PURCELL MOUNTAINS, B.C.
Say good morning to the glacier ― from your warm, cushy bed. Next, tackle the blueberry-banana pancakes. Then thwap, thwap; blades blur and grass ripples. Hang on to your sunhat as you're whisked high into the blue sky, up to the jagged peaks of the Purcells, and plopped ― peacefully ― in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It's called heli-hiking, and once you try it, you'll never hoof it uphill for a view again. The guided walk can be as leisurely, or as challenging, as you choose. And the beauty of the surroundings brings out the playfulness in all: Silver-haired siblings frolic in a wildflower-filled meadow; kids toss snow over steep rocks. At the end of the day, everyone reunites back at the lodge for a well-deserved dinner. After a soak in the rooftop tub, you're ready for tomorrow's adventure. INFO: Bugaboo Lodge is one of six wilderness lodges run by Canadian Mountain Holidays; $2,083 U.S. per person for 4-day trips through Sep 15, including meals and helicopter rides; 800/661-0252. -Rachel Levin
2. TUCSON, AZ
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
Within minutes of leaving the resort's tony confines, you can hike into some genuine, 100 percent American wilderness. The monumental resort, edged by a golf course, sits at the head of its namesake canyon in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. After a brief stretch through a private easement, you enter the pristine Sonoran Desert habitat of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. Saguaros crowd the slopes and huge boulders fill the canyon bottom, where a seasonal stream runs. About 2 1/2 miles of hiking offers a nice taste of the canyon's beauty and leads to shallow swimming holes (depending on rains) at Maiden Pools. But if you're really inspired, the trail continues for another few miles and climbs more than 3,000 feet into the heart of the Catalinas. INFO: From $119; 800/234-5117. -Matthew Jaffe
3. NEAR MAKAWAO, HI
Olinda Country Cottages
High above beach level in Maui's Upcountry, these cottages on a hill command a stunning view of the island's North Shore. About 15 minutes up the road from Makawao, the place is at 4,000-foot elevation, meaning cool mornings and plenty of fresh air and making this spot a great getaway for hikers. Stay in Hidden Cottage (our favorite) and wander the property's 8.6 acres of grassy meadow and protea groves. Or walk to the nearby Waihou Spring Forest Reserve, part of the state's Na Ala Hele Trails System. Choose from two trails, with the more challenging route descending down through a eucalyptus-and-koa forest to Kailua Gulch. INFO: From $140; 800/932-3435. -Amy Traverso