Scenery Steals the Show in Western Colorado

Colorado’s Gateway Canyons Resort, near the Utah border in the state’s western realms, is one of those places that feels wildly remote but is actually pretty accessible. Just over an hour’s drive from the Grand Junction airport, the property is an oasis of outdoor experiences, lush comfort and—dominating every visit—spectacular vistas.

If there were a world record for most pictures taken on a media FAM, my group must have shattered it during our recent visit. Whether from high plateaus reached during UTV and horseback-riding outings, aboard a helicopter zipping through Grand Canyon-esque terrain or just strolling the sprawling property, photogenic landscapes are practically crying out for their close-up. My personal favorite view was of the iconic palisades outcropping neighboring the resort (below), though there dozens of close seconds.

The remarkable setting includes a range of lush lodgings done in a style that seamlessly blends luxurious comfort with handsome Pueblo-style architecture. With only 74 units (to go with its 12K feet of event space) there's also plenty of breathing room for everyone. My casita was hallmarked by high ceilings, tasteful interior design with a rustic touch, and a comfortable king bed. Nice touches included a spacious bathroom with an extra, enclosed outdoor shower, and two large-screen televisions that actually used DirecTV cable—rather than the standard in-house TV systems used at most hotels/resorts these days that are maddening to navigate.

Then again, no one comes to a place like this to just watch television, not with the array of outdoor fun emphasizing memorable incentive-group experiences. My personal favorite adventure might have been zooming through the nearby canyons in a Camaro convertible (above)—courtesy of a Driven Experience program showcasing everything from Bentleys to Porsches and beyond. But our group horseback trek to an outdoor pavilion in the hills was amazing as well, feasting on a delicious cookout-style buffet and taking in an old-timey band playing live tunes. Also unforgettable was a short helicopter tour (below) that took us through eye-catching gullies and past all sorts of high-desert terrain.

Our UTV expedition high up into the hills provided plenty of adventure, and endless photo ops as well. And if you’re on the lookout for more-sedate pleasures, the recently added new spa added yet another highlight to my visit with a massage so soothing it bordered on nirvana. The enchanting pool area (below) is a serene oasis as well, enhanced by a great little cafe/bar serving elevated pub fare and colorful drinks; and the Jacuzzi, highlighted by a large boulder in the center, is the perfect centerpiece for it all.

Also worth a mention are an impressive auto museum with a plethora of classic cars (loved the red Thunderbird pictured below), and a number of educational adventures and doings that include searching out actual dinosaur track fossils and evening stargazing gatherings. It should be noted that the resort is the brainchild of Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, whose many passions include astronomy and automobiles.

The fantastic food can easily get overshadowed in the scenery and excitement, but every meal we had was top-notch, including a Maine lobster fricassee served at the closing dinner event. And while I wasn’t able to squeeze it into my agenda with all the other fun going on, the property also offers a Pro-Baja truck adventure course where you can ride along on a wild outing with a trained expert—or take a one-day course and get behind the wheel yourself!

But whether your group is there for some idyllic relaxation or a gamut of adventures, Gateway Canyons really is a special place.

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