The Call of the Wild

Three luxury resorts offer inspiring Western adventures for every style—and speed—of traveler, from tranquil to turbo-charged

Red Mountain Resort & Spa St. George, Utah

Mountains come in many colors, but in St. George, Utah, they are gloriously red. The Red Mountain Resort and Spa specializes in life-enhancing adventures amid this incredible crimson landscape. It’s a remarkably tranquil place; hushed serenity envelops the property even though it’s a busy hive of activity, with a wide spectrum of daily opportunities to promote healthy living and personal growth, from chakra balancing to petroglyph analysis to good old-fashioned hiking among the rocks and wildflowers in the adjacent 7,000-acre Snow Canyon State Park. 

The resort’s Adventure Concierge can arrange custom experiences, and rock climbing, canyon-eering and side trips to Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks are available, as well as mountain biking, golf, kayaking, horseback riding, yoga and tai chi. Especially innovative programs include a wild horse encounter called “M.E.E.T. the Mustangs,” “Pawsitive Adventure Week” for you and your dog, and a two-hour outdoor photo shoot to capture your natural beauty in “Nature Inspired Portraits.” 

The Sagestone Spa and Salon offers lavish treatments incorporating ancient healing practices, custom-blended indigenous desert botanicals, Utah honey, mineral-rich salts, clays and muds. Visitors often come to this gorgeous red desert oasis to recharge, and the resort prides itself on addressing “wellness on every level,” from nutrition consultations to ancient shamanic life path reading and sound healing. 

The Canyon Breeze restaurant is casually elegant, with inventive Southwestern cuisine that’s good for you (the menu offers gluten-free and anti-inflammatory options) but still manages to feel indulgent. Its lovely outdoor dining area is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the mountains before tiptoeing through the silent desert back to your luxurious room, suite or villa.


Vermejo Park Ranch Raton, New Mexico

For a rare glimpse of what the Western landscape must have been like before fences, power lines and pavement, Vermejo Park Ranch is your place. This is Ted Turner’s property, measuring more than 920 square miles, and it’s the largest tract of privately owned land in the West. 

Because of its astonishing size, the ranch offers an incredibly diverse range of wildlife and terrain, which provide the kind of opportunities for hunting, fishing, photography and free-range exploration you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else. 

The property has a long history as an outdoorsmen’s retreat: In the 1920s, luminaries such as Herbert Hoover, Harvey Firestone, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford visited what was then known as the Vermejo Club. In recent years, Turner has overseen improvements in forestry and wildlife management, along with extensive conservation initiatives.

Today, many visitors come to Vermejo for the outstanding guided trophy hunting and fishing. A herd of approximately 9,000 elk roam an area of 585,000 acres, allowing for a “unique, fair chase environment.” Mule deer, pronghorns, turkey, bison and black bear may also be hunted at Vermejo during various times of year, and 30 miles of streams and 14 stocked lakes offer a hearty population of rainbow, brook, brown and Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

Other activities that take advantage of the breathtaking natural environment include nature and wildlife photography tours, bird-watching excursions and guided tours of Native American adobe ruins and historical sites.

Vermejo’s comfortable lodge, cottage and separate residence accommodations are filled with Western character and historic charm. Rustic-elegant meals feature game, fish and local produce for hungry travelers stealing time away from their modern-day lives to savor this grand, wild ranch.


Gateway Canyons Resort Gateway, Colorado

Nestled in the spectacularly scenic Unaweep Canyon on the Colorado/Utah border, Gateway Canyons Resort takes full advantage of its extraordinary location, offering escapades on land, water and in the air.

There’s plenty of Western-style fun to be had: horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing or river rafting, and kayaking and tubing on the nearby Dolores River and beyond. Wine country tours explore local vineyards, while the spa and salon offer lavishly soothing treatments. Luxurious lodge and casita accommodations are designed with Southwestern flair, and a full menu of dining options is available.

But what really sets Gateway Canyons Resort apart is its adrenaline-pumping motor adventures. After all, the 133-mile Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway sweeps right through the property, so it would be a shame to waste such a splendid stretch of road. That’s why Gateway Canyons offers a dazzling variety of “Driven Experiences,” allowing guests to cruise the blacktop in exotic luxury cars by the likes of Bentley, Porsche or Tesla, hit the dirt on an all-day off-road Jeep tour or take an aggressive spin in a customized Pro-Baja Truck. The automotive celebration continues back at the resort, where the Gateway Canyons Auto Museum offers a sparkling gallery of 60 rare and historic cars.

And if that’s still not enough excitement, guests can book an Air Tour and enjoy the dramatic landscape of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah from the sky, in the plush comfort of a Cessna Caravan airplane or Eurocopter AStar B3 helicopter.  

But the newest adventures at Gateway Canyons, “Curiosity Retreats,” might just leave the earth entirely. Led by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, with the help of “eminent visionaries, scholars and trendsetters,” the five-night sessions will explore themes as ambitious as the mysteries of the universe. 

Categories: Mountain Travel