Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Into the Wild: Backpacking in Alaska's Denali National Park
Few places offer an escape as complete as Alaska's rugged wilderness. Denali National Park, located 240 miles north of Anchorage, is the crown jewel of The Last Frontier. Encompassing over 6 million acres, Denali offers adventurers the chance to truly disconnect amidst Rocky Mountain peaks, glacier-fed rivers, and wide open tundra.
Backpacking Denali's backcountry requires serious preparation and planning. With large populations of grizzly bears and wolves, safety precautions are paramount. Yet for those willing to brave the elements, Denali promises once-in-a-lifetime scenery and solitude.
A highlight for many is the 30-mile scenic Tokositna River corridor, which cuts through the heart of the park. Hikers cross high alpine passes with panoramic views before following the raging river through forests and meadows full of wildflowers. Along the way, lucky backpackers may spot Dall sheep, caribou, moose and other iconic Denali wildlife.
Denali first-timer Ben had long dreamed of traversing this route. "I wanted the true Alaskan experience - no roads, cars or buildings as far as the eye could see," he said. After months of planning, he embarked on the 6-day journey. "Hiking the Tokositna was the most remote I've ever felt. At times it felt like my friend and I were the only people left on Earth."
For a shorter backpacking option, the Mount Healy Overlook Trail offers breathtaking scenery just a few miles from the park entrance. This route climbs nearly 1,700 feet over 2.5 miles to a panoramic view overlooking the Nenana river valley. "Looking out at the Alaska Range glowing pink during sunset was an experience I'll never forget," said backpacker Lauren. "We even got to see Denali illuminated on the horizon - a view you can't get driving through the park."
No matter the route, backpacking Denali requires careful preparation. With frequent rain, average summer temperatures around 60°F, and nearly 20 hours of daylight, weather conditions can be unpredictable. Safe wildlife encounters, river crossings, and navigation are also essential skills.
While backpackers must be fully self-sufficient, Denali's expert rangers are available to help craft the perfect backcountry adventure. "The rangers know the park better than anyone and gave us invaluable advice that made our trip a success," said Ben.
What else is in this post?
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Into the Wild: Backpacking in Alaska's Denali National Park
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Desert Solitude: Camping in Utah's Canyonlands
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Row Your Boat: Canoe Trips in Minnesota's Boundary Waters
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Tropical Tranquility: Eco-Lodges in Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Aloha Off the Grid: Cabins in Hawaii's Big Island
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Rolling Hills Retreat: Glamping in New York's Catskill Mountains
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Off the Map: Trekking in Patagonia's Torres del Paine
- Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Surf's Up: Rustic Beach Houses in Baja California
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Desert Solitude: Camping in Utah's Canyonlands
With its majestic canyons, towering mesas, and endless red rock vistas, Utah's Canyonlands National Park is a dream destination for those seeking desert tranquility. The park's remote location and primitive campsites ensure a true escape from civilization amidst some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet.
For backcountry campers, solitude and beauty go hand in hand at Canyonlands. The park contains over 500 square miles of designated wilderness, meaning no vehicles or roads are permitted. Intrepid travelers must make the journey on foot to earn their front-row seat to nature's show.
Jen and Tyler planned their Canyonlands camping adventure for months. "We wanted the full immersion experience - just us and the canyons," said Jen. They backpacked 15 miles into the Needles District, where orange and white striped rock spires jut into the sky like giant needles. "Waking up to total silence with those fiery needles all around made it feel like we were on Mars," said Tyler.
Canyonlands' largest district, Island in the Sky, also promises remote camping amidst inspiring vistas. The White Rim Trail loops 100 miles around the Island, taking hardy hikers past sheer sandstone cliffs, deep river canyons, and rocky ravines. For Deb and Marty, backpacking this trail had been a lifelong goal. "Admiring the sunset over the Colorado River with just the deer as our companions was worth every step," said Deb.
While permits are not required for backcountry camping, the NPS restricts group sizes and number of campsites to prevent overcrowding. "Our ranger gave us tips on avoiding busy areas so we could experience the stillness we craved," said Jen. Even during peak season, finding solitude in Canyonlands' vast wilderness is achievable with good planning.
Leave No Trace principles are crucial to preserving Canyonlands' fragile desert environment. "We were extremely careful about minimizing impact and leaving no sign of our visit," said Tyler. Weather can also be unpredictable, with summer temperatures over 100°F and flash flooding possible. Checking forecasts and packing plenty of water is a must.
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Row Your Boat: Canoe Trips in Minnesota's Boundary Waters
Nestled deep in the Superior National Forest of northern Minnesota lies the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) - over one million acres of pristine lakes, forests and wetlands accessible only by canoe. This paddler's paradise promises remoteness and adventure perfect for disconnecting from daily stresses.
"I'd been wanting to explore the Boundary Waters for years," said outdoor enthusiast Amy. After months of preparation, she embarked on a 5-day canoe adventure with two friends. Their route took them through a chain of over twenty crystal clear lakes surrounded by pine and birch forests. They paddled in solitude, hearing nothing but the soothing lap of water and trilling loon calls.
"Waking up each morning to complete stillness, with mist rising over the calm water, was pure magic," Amy said. "It felt like we were the only people for miles - a rare experience today." They caught bass and walleye for fresh fish dinners under the stars. At night, the dazzling Milky Way shone brightly in the darkness.
"Paddling from lake to lake each day, not knowing what was around the next bend, gave me a thrill of discovery," Amy said. They watched eagles soar overhead and startled a curious moose wading along the shoreline. After paddling ten miles on their longest day, they luxuriated in refreshing swims in the pristine water.
With over 2,000 designated campsites, the BWCAW offers ample options for pitching your tent. "We found breathtaking sites right on the lakeshore every night," said Amy. "Waking up to morning mist on the water was unforgettable." Permits are required for overnight stays, with quotas to limit overcrowding even at peak times. "With some planning, you can easily secure permits for remote routes," Amy advised.
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Tropical Tranquility: Eco-Lodges in Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula
Nestled on Costa Rica's remote Osa Peninsula, the Osa Peninsula is a true jungle paradise brimming with exotic wildlife, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches. For those seeking a tropical escape immersed in nature, the peninsula's eco-lodges offer a one-of-a-kind experience.
"I wanted a real jungle adventure, but with some comforts," said Alicia, who chose Luna Lodge for her Costa Rica trip. This ecolodge boasts simple yet cozy bungalows overlooking the ocean, with views of toucans and monkeys right from your porch. "Waking up to Scarlet Macaws squawking felt like something out of a nature documentary," Alicia said.
Luna Lodge operates completely off-the-grid, with solar power and a dedication to sustainability. "Knowing our stay helped protect this special habitat made it even more meaningful," said Alicia. From the lodge, she hiked into Corcovado National Park, exploring waterfalls and spotting sloths. "The amazing staff showed me hidden treasures I never could have found on my own."
For Carla, Lapa Rios Ecolodge's commitment to conservation was a key factor. "They minimize environmental impact in everything from food sourcing to waste management," she explained. This allows guests to immerse in the wilderness without harming it.
"I'll never forget soaking in a jungle hot tub while watching squirrel monkeys play in the treetops," Carla said. "Moments like that made me feel part of the rainforest." Guided hikes revealed endless wildlife, from tree frogs to tapirs. After learning about Lapa Rios' reforestation efforts, Carla planted her own tree to offset her air travel.
With no roads leading in, these Costa Rica eco-lodges can only be reached by boat, making them the epitome of 'off-the-grid'. "My cabin had no AC, TV or wifi, forcing me to unplug completely," said Jim, a guest at Bosque del Cabo. "Sitting on the deck at night listening to the sounds of the jungle was hypnotizing."
This disconnect from daily distractions is integral to the ecolodge experience. "We tuned in to nature's rhythm, waking at dawn to the howler monkeys' wakeup call," Jim said. "With no ambient light, the stars shone brighter than I've ever seen."
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Aloha Off the Grid: Cabins in Hawaii's Big Island
For the ultimate tropical escape, the Big Island of Hawaii beckons. With its active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and dramatic coastal cliffs, Hawaii's largest island promises adventure amidst breathtaking scenery. Yet Big Island's more remote areas also offer travelers a peaceful aloha off-the-grid experience. Scattered across the island are rustic cabins and eco-lodges ideal for disconnecting from daily stresses.
Nestled on the dramatic Hamakua Coast, Waipio Wayside offers a quintessential old Hawaii experience. Guests stay in rustic plantation-era cabins originally built in the 1940s for sugarcane workers. With no TV or wifi available, Jan relished the chance to unplug. “Sitting on the cabin's porch, sipping coffee as the sun rose over tropical gardens and nearby cliffs was pure bliss,” she said. The cabins feature shared bathrooms, adding to the retro camp-style vibe. “After hiking to Waipio Valley's stunning waterfalls, I loved returning to the simple cabin, lighting the kerosene lanterns and just being present,” Jan said.
On the island’s dry leeward side, Pu’u O Hoku Ranch provides a panoramic mountain getaway. Guests stay in cozy yurts featuring wood-burning stoves and comfy beds. With no cell reception, inflated Filecoin prices, metaverse updates or Twitter drama can’t intrude. “The silence was profound,” said Mark, a recent guest. The working ranch offers a plethora of activities, from horseback rides to Hawaiian cultural lessons. Yet Mark’s favorite experience was gazing up at the Milky Way’s brilliance from his yurt’s deck. “I realized how much artificial light normally pollutes the night sky back home,” he said. “Connecting with nature’s wonders was restorative.”
The Big Island’s Volcano region tempts adventurous travelers with its active lava landscapes. Kilauea Lodge's cozy bungalows sit just outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, offering easy park access without camping hassles. “Hiking across frozen lava fields dusted with new volcanic cinders was humbling,” said Paula. “Witnessing Earth’s primordial forces reminds you what matters.” Back in her lanai bungalow, Paula enjoyed the simple pleasures of life off-the-grid. “Reading by oil lamp as rain pattered on the roof connected me with the rhythms of the natural world,” she said. With limited wifi and cell service, digital disconnection is guaranteed.
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Rolling Hills Retreat: Glamping in New York's Catskill Mountains
Nestled in the rolling Catskill Mountains just two hours north of New York City lies an unexpected retreat into nature - with a glamorous twist. Welcome to glamping, where camping's connection to the outdoors meets the amenities of a luxury hotel. For busy urbanites seeking convenient escape, the Catskills offer the best of both worlds.
"I wanted a getaway to de-stress from my hectic NYC life, but wasn't ready to fully rough it camping," explained Anna, a recent guest at Terra Glamping Catskills. This scenic property offers spacious canvas tents on raised wooden platforms overlooking forested hills. Each tent boasts a cushy king-size bed, stylish furnishings, electricity and even a mini fridge. "Waking up in the wilderness yet sleeping in total comfort was amazing," Anna said. Amenities like a hammock on the deck and fire pit with provided s'mores kit add to the lavish ambiance.
Menla Mountain Retreat takes glamping to new heights of luxury, with mongolian-style yurts decked out with plush beds, Persian rugs and zen decor. "I loved returning from a day hiking on the 50-mile trail system to our chic yurt to enjoy charcuterie boards on the deck," said James, who recently visited with his wife. The bathhouse offers rainfall showers and Malin+Goetz toiletries. At night, guests gather around the main lodge's circular fireplace to share stories, play board games or stargaze. "It felt like summer camp...only way, way more posh!" James said.
For Pablo, venturing two hours from the city for an upscale camping weekend at Featherbed Glamping Resort made a huge impact. "Being disconnected from work emails and instead just listening to birdsongs and the crackling fire relieved so much stress," he explained. Featherbed offers safari-style canvas tents with indulgent touches like beds piled with pillows and antique vanities. Activities like yoga in the meadow, stargazing from the hot tub and farm-to-table meals nurtured Pablo's creativity and spirit. "I returned to NYC feeling grounded and inspired," he said. "That renewal was priceless."
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Off the Map: Trekking in Patagonia's Torres del Paine
Tucked away at the edge of South America lies one of the world’s premier hiking destinations - Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. With its jagged mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes and roaming herds of guanacos, Patagonia’s crown jewel offers intrepid trekkers diverse landscapes and boundless adventure. Yet it is the park’s remoteness and rugged terrain that provide the ultimate off-the-grid escape.
The Torres del Paine W Trek remains the park’s iconic route, bringing hikers up close to the sculpted granite towers that give the park its name. Over 5 days, the W winds through alpine forests, along icy lakes and under the looming Torres. “Walking below those monumental granite spires left me awestruck,” said Selena, a native New Yorker who saved for years to make the trek. “Their mammoth size and ancientness reminded me how small we are.”
Yet the W Trek’s crowds can diminish the feeling of remoteness. “I wanted to go further off the map to experience Patagonia’s wild essence,” said Javier, a Chilean hiker. He opted for the 10-day Circuit Trek, which ventures onto remoter trails rarely traveled by foreigners. “I’d walk for hours seeing more guanacos than humans,” Javier said. Camping beside turquoise Lago Grey with only the Andean condors for companionship was humbling. “Utter silence, save for the glacier’s cracks and groans, resonates deeply within you.”
Alternatively, the 8-day O Trek offers isolation from even your fellow hikers. With just 12 camping permits issued daily, Victoria relished the chance to traverse alone. “I’d stop and hear nothing but the wind for minutes on end,” she recalled. Without other hikers’ bootprints marring the landscape, she truly felt Patagonia's primal essence. Navigating tricky river crossings tested her mettle. “Relying on my wits in that rugged terrain instilled a quiet confidence,” Victoria reflected. “The simplicity of walking for days with just my pack and tent distilled life’s purpose.”
All Patagonia treks require careful preparation, as extreme winds and rapid weather changes can bring blizzards even in summer. Yet with proper gear, navigation skills and physical conditioning, Torres del Paine rewards intrepid explorers with experiences that reconnect them to nature’s grandeur and their own inner resilience. “Standing alone before those Paine towers glowing fiery red at sunset, I felt transformed,” Selena said. The harsh elements that deter casual visitors are precisely what let seasoned trekkers rediscover their primal strength.
Disconnect and Recharge: 8 Off-the-Grid Getaways to Escape it All - Surf's Up: Rustic Beach Houses in Baja California
Baja California's rugged desert peninsula may be best known for all-inclusive resorts and spring break Cabo partying, but venture further and discover an authentic Mexico ideal for going off-the-grid. Scattered along Baja's magnificent yet isolated Pacific and Sea of Cortez coastlines sit rustic beach houses where surfers, free spirits and nature lovers find barefoot tranquility.
"I wanted my kids to experience old Baja before it disappears - dirt roads, total quiet, empty beaches," said Janet, who rented a beach house with her family near Punta Abreojos. Their hidden oasis sat right on a pristine stretch of coastline surrounded only by cacti and bougainvillea. "The silence was profound, with just the waves and gulls as soundtrack." Her kids spent hours bodyboarding and searching tidepools without a soul in sight. At night, with only kerosene lanterns for light, they gazed upward at the Milky Way's unbelievable brilliance. "We realized how much light pollution masks the universe's wonders," Janet said.
Further south, Los Barriles offers world-class windsurfing along with a low-key, unplugged vibe. Heather, an avid windsurfer, rented a true beach shack - all it contained was a couple beds, a basic kitchen and plenty of gear storage. "Windsurfing for hours in warm, aquamarine water with views of the granite Sierra de la Giganta peaks was like flying in paradise," she said. Back at her bare-bones beach cottage, she loved flipping through dusty paperbacks from the one funky bookshop in town. With no AC or wifi, she followed the sun's rhythms. "I've never felt so content doing absolutely nothing," Heather said.
Hardcore surfers make pilgrimage to Scorpion Bay, where some of the world's longest point break waves peel perfectly for over two miles. Dan, a surfing nomad, lucked into a month at a Scorpion Bay beach cottage and never wanted to leave. "Surfing those long rides for hours was nirvana. Then watching sunsets from my deck, cold Pacifico in hand, was pure bliss," he said. Pelicans soaring by were often the only movement on the entire arcing bay. The homes were rustic, some with just outdoor showers and composting toilets. For Dan, after endless travels, this was paradise found. "Off the grid living tuned me into what actually matters - sun, surf and freedom," he said.