Most travelers visiting Utah’s remote and beautiful red-rock country consider a tent and a sleeping bag a suitable place to spend the night. Sure, camping has its time and place – but it’s not for everyone. That’s why we dig these surprisingly cushy accommodations that still provide easy access to the glories of nature.
At the Shooting Star RV Resort, you can stay in a fully decked-out Airstream (think 1950’s Hollywood glam) nestled near the Escalante Mountains and along Utah State Route 12, also known as Scenic Byway 12. Cook s’mores around a community fire pit or catch a flick at the onsite drive-in theater with 1960s convertibles serving as the seats.
During the day, scramble down Spooky Gulch in the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument, one of the narrowest slot canyons known — only 18 inches wide in spots — and snap pics of its twisted, sandstone walls.
There are only two rooms at Kiva Kottage, but they’re in a building perched on the slope of a high-desert hill dotted with scrub junipers. In the morning, the smell of espresso and chicken chilaquiles from the nearby Kiva Koffeehouse is incentive to leave your canyon digs.
Luckily, the trailhead to Calf Creek Falls, also part of the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument, is only a 10-minute car ride away. The four-hour hike along the creek and across boulders has a huge payoff: a 126-foot-high waterfall. Want to know a hiker’s secret? The 6.2-mile lower trail is easier than the upper 2-mile trail.
The rustic luxe suites of the Desert Rose Inn are a surprise find in the two- pony town of Bluff. Ask to stay in the new, chichi courtyard wing and enjoy a private patio that looks out at a soaring red-rock mesa. The indoor pool is built around the same stunning view. After a long day of outdoorsy pursuits, the Anasazi burger at Duke’s hits the spot.
A great way to see the surrounding canyon country is from the seat of a RZR — a dune buggy-like off-roading vehicle. On a guided tour from Four Comers Adventures, you’ll stop and explore ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings.
Red cliffs are just outside the door of your 400-square-foot cabin at Capitol Reef Resort. Minutes from Capitol Reef National Park, the cabins offer more than rustic convenience — they have vaulted ceilings, sky-high windows with spectacular views and pillow-top mattresses. Touches like faux-fur blankets and antler chandeliers make the place feel Wild-West modern.
During daylight hours, set out on a 2-mile hike to Hickman Natural Bridge — an impressive natural arch that’s part of the 244,000-acre Capitol Reef National Park. The bridge is closed to climbers but makes for excellent photos. Scope out roadside petroglyphs left more than 2,000 years ago by the Fremont tribe near what is now the park’s visitor center. When night falls, look up: Capitol Reef is known for its super-dark, starry skies.
Just Like Home
It’s simplest to cook your own food in remote Monument Valley, and the new suites at Goulding’s Lodge have kitchens stocked with cookery. The homey digs, where Hollywood film crews have stayed since the 1930s, are perfect for a family of four, and there’s a grocer nearby. The real payoff is sipping coffee on the front porch while soaking in the iconic rock silhouettes on the horizon.
The best way to see Monument Valley, part of the Navajo Nation reservation, is on horseback with a local guide. Seen in countless cowboy movies (not to mention Transformers: Age of Extinction and some Doctor Who episodes), this land of gorgeous red-rock formations and deep- blue sky wows everyone. Want to take that beauty home? Local shops have amazing Navajo jewelry.