The massive Unaweep Canyon in Gateway, Colorado has formations estimated to be over a billion years old, and their unique shapes are thought to be molded by the flowing waters of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. These vibrant red rocks puncture the blue skies, and its enormity makes the landscape below seem almost insignificant.
Anasazi and Ute Native American tribes lived on the plateaus for centuries, and eventually, homesteaders would arrive in 1884. Gold miners would tunnel the rock in hopes of riches, cattle rustlers would avoid the law by hiding in the unforgiving terrain, and ranchers would graze cattle in the grasslands.
It wasn’t an easy living, but homesteaders stayed in the area carving out a living and surviving on the land. In 1903, the first dirt floored school was built, and slowly, a community grew in what was known as the gateway from Colorado to Utah.
The city of Gateway was born and raised by its hardworking citizens continually growing as ranching, farming, and lumber mills supported the local economy. It was also an area of uranium mining for years, but the breathtaking views couldn’t be kept a secret. People began to arrive to experience the city of Gateway and the incredible sights.
It is at the base of the red stone giants where Gateway Canyons Resort sits in serenity where once upon a time cowboys roamed on horseback beneath open skies.
Gateway Canyons Resort was started by John Hendricks, whom you may have heard of before. As the founder and former chairman of Discovery Communications which owns programs such as the Discovery Channel and TLC, Hendricks has been no stranger to beautiful places and interesting locations. However, Gateway was a particularly special place. As a child, his father told him of the almost magical red rock of Colorado and the intense, harsh beauty of the landscape.
It was a place Hendricks always dreamed of going, and when he brought his family in 1995, the Unaweep Canyon and the people of Gateway inspired something profound in him. He realized he wanted to create an outdoor resort where he could give others the chance to experience the canyon and its untamable grace.
Hendricks wanted a place where people could seek both adventure and luxury. It would become more than just a resort but a place to experience life beyond the ordinary. An escape that would give visitors a taste of the history, culture and magnificence of the terrain.
Centered around the possibilities of the wide-open spaces, the Resort offers experiences not just activities. Some of these encounters with nature and even livestock will put visitors to the test and gauge their cowboy abilities.
Inspired by the wildness of the Canyon, the Resort caters to adventure lovers with a variety of hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, white-water rafting along the Dolores River and exhilarating off road tours. These outdoor treks give visitors a chance to explore the territory in its uninhibited state as outlaws, cowboys, and settlers once did.
In addition to these options the Anthropologist Zebulon Miracle also has guided tours in the Canyon. As the Curator of Curiosity he gives visitors the opportunity to see natural and manmade elements of the canyon offering first hand knowledge of its incredible nature. There is nothing quite like physically engaging in the terrain to truly experience it, and the Resort offers intense, adrenaline rushing activities to make the most of it.
Live Like a Cowboy
Gateway Canyons Resort has recently taken its experience to the next level. With the introduction of the Palisade Ranch in May 2016, guests have the chance to truly have a Western experience and learn some of their very own cowboy skills. There is horseback riding across the 500 acres of riding trails, and lessons on driving and roping cattle just as the ranchers once did in the very same grasslands. Practice skeet shooting and enjoy fireside cook outs under a starry sky.
There are packages for five, three, or one day excursions at the Palisade Ranch to get an idea of what it was like to have been a wild cowboy living off the land. There are even impromptu competitions for those with above par ropin’ skills.
Indulge in Luxury
While adventure is at the heart of the Gateway Canyons Resort, it is also about having an out of the ordinary experience. From suites to free-standing one and two bedroom casitas with private jacuzzis, the modern day amenities offered provide an introduction to the community of Gateway and much needed relaxation after cowboy living.
There are guided wine tours, available high-end luxury cars to rent, Pro-baja truck excursions, helicopter tours and of course, an incredible spa. Guests can also enjoy the Gateway Canyons Auto Museum which houses 60 of the most sought after cars in the country.
Eat like Royalty
Food is always at the top of the list at any destination. It helps capture the history and culture of a location, and at the Gateway Canyons Resort, the dedicated staff creates flavorful menus meant to combine the comforts of savory southwest food with the fresh, natural elements of the region.
The Resort has welcomed Stephen Belie as the Executive Chef who brings 14 years of professional cooking and managing kitchens. He is eager to provide guests with only the best and most indulgent of dining. Choose from four different places to dine as well as Duesey’s Diner the vintage food truck outside the resort.
Hearty dishes like the Grass Fed Beef & Hominy Chili, the Bison Burger and Smoked Bone-in Short Rib offer an introduction to the rich Colorado cuisine. From the Fennel & Citrus Gravlax to the Local Bourbon Pecan Pie, the vast variety of foods will satiate even the most ravenous cowboy.
The Gateway Canyons Resort is a reflection of the heart and soul of Colorado. It attracts visitors yearning for a taste of the wild desert contours and challenging adventures. Beyond the outdoor experiences, there is also plenty of room for the luxurious and lavish. It was voted a top resort in the world by Conde Nast Traveler’s 2015 Reader’s Choice Award and it is also consistently rated a top resort in Colorado.
This resort has created a vacation experience around the iconic southwest offering a chance to live the American cowboy ideal and still enjoy high-end amenities. Visit the Gateway Canyons Resort website to find out more and see if you have what it takes to be a cowboy.
I was hosted by Gateway Canyons Resort but all opinions remain mine, all mine.