Urban stress can make you really crave the tranquil solitude of a sanctuary or retreat, among wooded mountain and pastoral fields, alongside rivers or lakes. On road trips across the United States, my favorite way to rest and regenerate is in a cabin far from any urban area. The southern USA has many gratifying spaces with loads of seclusion and tranquility, yet often less than an hour’s drive from a town with restaurants and shopping.
Here are a few of my favorite places. Most are set in the southeast and southwest.
The Martini Ranch is located on a beautiful desert tract about 40 minutes from Tucson Arizona. The house is an Adobe ranch style located in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains, surrounded by many saguaro cactus and other lush desert plant life. It is private with five acres of land to walk and enjoy (almost half of the 22-mile drive into Tucson is on lush scenic cactus-strewn by-ways from the ranch to I-10). There are other buildings in the area, but not within view of the tranquil back patio. The vistas surrounding the house are utterly amazing at sunset and sunrise.The patio boasts a large firepit, along with a bar and a table and chairs. There is a cozy wood-burning stove in in the kitchen. The house is compact, yet spacious enough for a couple. All the décor is contemporary with rustic Pueblo design finishes, popular in Arizona and New Mexico. The interior is fresh and new from the linens to the furniture. We fully enjoyed our time there. It is private and immensely tranquil. A sanctuary away from the urban world, and to me every bit as beautiful as the Saguaro National Forest, which is as not far from the ranch. (Homeaway 1073724 Marana, AZ)
The Pecos River Cliff House, located 30 minutes south of Santa Fe in San Jose New Mexico, has the most remarkable views of the Pecos River along with a totally private scenic stretch of land surrounding the home. It is located 50 feet above the Pecos River with a staircase that will take you down to the water’s edge. We reached the pueblo-style adobe home on a night with a light snow storm, and awoke the next morning to a winter wonderland of snow covering the rocky cliffs and trees. The home is styled with contemporary furniture with southwest accents. There is a large fireplace and a radiant floor heating system. Plenty of wood was provided to keep the home toasty in cold weather. The floor-to-ceiling doors and windows facing the river make the setting and view even more impressive. The bathroom too has amazing vistas and a jacuzzi tub and a steam shower. (Homeaway 889814, San Jose, NM)
Big Al’s Creek House has a unique setting and is perhaps the closest I have ever stayed to a rhythmic rolling creek. This is the only home on the list located in the north east. The cabin has a comfortable fireplace with plenty of windows to see the trees as well as the water rushing by. There is a cedar hot tub in the yard as well as a footbridge over the creek, with a hammock to relax on the other side of the water. It rained the entire time we were there, but we could still enjoy the creek from a large sitting area located inside the house directly next to the water. We enjoyed the views and fireplace so much that we hardly left the cabin. The cabin area size is intimate and compact and best suited for one couple. (Homeaway 265614, Stroudsburg, PA)
On the way home from an East Coast road trip we decided to take a detour to stay at Serenity on the Creek, a scenic cabin in Ellijay Georgia. The location was perfect solitude in a gulch completely surrounded by trees on eight private acres. The sound of the creek below the cabin resonated through the balcony doors on each of three levels of this rustic cabin. The home is an open concept design with contemporary furniture and accessories. The décor is fresh and clean. One of the highlights of our stay there was the hot tub. It is a romantic setting with a fire burning in a pit close by and fireflies sparkling all around. The master bedroom has a private balcony overlooking a forest of pine trees. We even spotted a bear with her cub on the driveway out to the main street. (Homeaway 139991, Ellijay, GA)
Six miles from the Appalachian Trail, in a beautiful area surrounded by the Pisgah and Cherokee National forest is the Paint Rock River House. The six-mile drive up to the site follows the French Broad River. There is also a high road above the cabin that leads to some amazing hiking and fishing opportunities, all with unforgettable nature panoramas. The cabin is beautiful and well laid out with an open concept design and a beautiful fireplace containing a wood burning stove and large leather sectional. The home has a number of fine antique accent pieces, and is clear of the usual cabin tchotchkes. It is tastefully styled. There are two bedrooms, each with a bathroom. The master bedroom upstairs has a large balcony overlooking the river, the sound of the river pours in from open windows. The generous wrap around porch has plenty of seating with ample views of the river. (Homeaway 793039 Hot Springs, NC)