A mere one hour from the Grand Junction Airport lies a sanctuary of serenity and relaxation. Some may ask … where is Grand Junction? Good question. I honestly didn’t know the answer until just recently. For me, Gateway Canyons was the perfect start to a week long trip of western Colorado. As you set out on your drive, don’t be surprised if you come across some wildlife along the way. Once we turned on CO-141 S, we were greeted by a couple of bighorn sheep staring us down on the two lane road. The drive on 141 is quite scenic on a rather windy two lane road. You will pass by an old general store as you approach the resort and shortly after you will find the entrance to Gateway Canyons. I found this particular accommodation through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. Along with the typical perks of Amex I discuss in other posts, we also received a $100 Activity Credit for our booking. There is a discussion about how to use these dollars below. Also, a nice addition was being able to use what is typically “breakfast for two” as a $60 food credit for any meal of the day.
There is an abundance of options when it comes to choosing a room ranging from casitas to accessible rooms. We decided upon a standard king. Overall, the room was quite spacious and well appointed. As the trip was a celebration, they had a bottle of wine in the refrigerator along with two bottles of spring water. The bathroom had great products with a fantastic coconut mango scent. Our room was directly outside of the main lobby and adjacent to the Kiva Lodge pool. This area was rather quiet, which I enjoyed. The patio to our unit was great for relaxing in the evening. I noticed the rooms adjacent to us had some really large patios.
The grounds of the resort are beautiful and cover quite an expanse. The first day we started our tour around just before sunset. The sky was fantastic shades of pink/orange and it was a great time for photos with beautiful rock formations as your backdrop. The resort and grounds for me were somewhat reminiscent of Sedona and Scottsdale.
I want to highlight a number of the options for activities on and off property. Regardless of whether you book through fine hotels and resorts, the adventure center can set you up with a range of activities. At check in, you will receive a thorough run down of everything available. There are guided UTV tours and hikes leaving in both the morning and the evening. Dependent upon the time of year, you may want to plan the time of your hike accordingly. At our arrival time later in the day mid August, the temperature was quite hot in the 90s and an afternoon hike didn’t seem like an ideal option. There is also the choice for driven tours of hanging flume, beaver creek, calamity camp, and the list goes on. Horseback riding and rifle shooting are more considerations for those so inclined. Finally, there is archery, which seemed quite tempting. An instructor will guide you through a lesson starting with the Atlatl all the way to compound bows.
Beyond the activities at the adventure center, you can relax in one of their pools. There is the Kiva Lodge Pool, which I referred to earlier. It is smaller and was rather quiet when we arrived. Perhaps, the perfect spot for some relaxation? A short distance away on property is the Pallisade Pool that was larger and included hot tubs. This was a more lively scene with music playing and a slightly larger crowd. All of the pools close at 10pm. This allows some time for a swim in the evening or relaxing in the hot tub before bed. Also on property for relaxation is the spa. While I did not partake in any spa activities, their menu of services is readily available online.
Possibly the biggest surprise of the entire stay was the Gateway Auto Museum. We almost skipped this because my overactive mind had originally decided to pack Arches national park into our first full day. After reconsidering the evening before, we spent additional time on property the next morning and walked over to the Auto Museum. Wow! This place is unbelievably fantastic and special. I have to say that cars do interest me. But, quite honestly, whether you are a car aficionado or not, I have to imagine that most parties would be flat out impressed by this collection. If you stay on property, admission is free. You can start by perusing the entry and the walls graffitied with old ads for gas and road maps. Next, watch a quick video, and the museum is yours to enjoy. We basically had the place to ourselves. This collection is quite extensive. Probably the prize of the collection would have to go to the F-88 concept car purchased for a cool 3 million in 2005. It was really a great stroll through the past with very informative yet concise information about the cars on display. Upon leaving, we found out that the property actually started as only an auto museum and gas station. The resort itself is 13-14 years old. The auto collection inside is worth around 55 million! Currently, the resort is actually for sale including the auto museum to the tune of 280 million. Interesting, to say the least.
Although our stay was short, if you want to extend your time, there are a number of options off property to keep one busy. As I mentioned above, we were interested in driving to Arches National Park. It is about 2.5 hours from the resort. Very doable, but it made for a long day for us due to a planned stay in Telluride that evening. The Gateway Canyons website is really spectacular for planning your trip. There is a lot of information at your fingertips. There are so many national parks, and I really appreciated that they include expected trip time to the destination. Outside of national parks, you can also have their concierge set up a self guided or tour guided trip of their wine country. We did visit a winery later in our trip. It is such a great additional agenda item to include in your planning if you enjoy wine.
At the time of our visit, the only restaurants that were open were Paradox Grille and the Kiva Cafe. Due to location, I think you are really relinquished to the restaurants on property for your meals. We had dinner at Paradox Grille outside on their patio. It was perfect weather and great scenery. They do offer an option for takeout or room service. Room service has a more limited menu. For dinner, I had the salmon. This was a very nice, healthy option and accompanied with some greens. They do have other not as healthy options for a splurge. My cocktail was a variation of an aperol spritz and the ideal addition to the patio dining and weather. Kiva Cafe we did not try, but they offer more on the go options for during the day. I thought the food was good (nothing life changing but more than adequate), but if you stayed at the resort for many days, one might tire of the food options.
To my utter surprise for a resort seemingly outside of civilization, this place just might offer it all! After passing the general store on the way into the resort and then finishing up at the car museum, it was almost like a short trip back in time. So happy for this addition to our trip!