Archive for the ‘ Colorado ’ Category

 

Gateway Canyons Resort…The Entrance to Xanadu

Monday, July 11th, 2011

One of the things I strive to do on Mike’s Road Trip is to find those cliché “off-the-beaten-path” places…the ones that give you so much satisfaction in the discovery.  I get great joy in bringing exposure to well-deserving destinations that exceed my expectations and will assuredly interest my readers.  Discovering the Gateway Canyons Resort in Gateway, Colorado is the quintessence of Mike’s Road Trip.

As you drive toward Gateway through the meandering canyon, the excitement intensifies as the landscape develops into an awe-inspiring scene out of a movie.  When you arrive at Gateway Canyons Resort, you will feel as though you’ve been dropped from the heavens to a tranquil place that inspires the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.

To be frank, the town of Gateway itself is a modest place; the Resort is the focal point and provides all the amenities you need for a remarkable and memorable time.   Whether you want to relax or have the adventure of a lifetime, Gateway Canyons can accommodate.  There is a full service spa offering everything from couples’ massage, salon services to facial treatments.  If you want adventure, they have an “Adventure Center” dedicated to your excitement needs…from horseback riding, rafting down the Dolores River that runs through the property, to off-roading (via ATV or Jeep), biking, fly fishing, sky adventures to hiking or climbing the landmark Palisade rock formation.



I spent three days at the Resort and was so disappointed to leave, I felt like I was just beginning to scratch the surface of all the nooks and crannies this magical place had to offer.   I arrived on a Saturday and found the place buzzing with excitement.  There was a large group of people from VOC (Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado) staying at the resort who were working on a trail-building project.  Apparently there was a band of musicians among the group who took the stage to perform for the volunteers.  As the music played, some people relaxed in the terraced amphitheater, while others played Frisbee on the expansive grassy knoll as the setting sun cast contrasting shadows upon the canyon walls and inimitable rock formations.  It was a wonderful start to my extraordinary stay.

The next day I drove about twelve miles north, up the canyon (the opposite way I had arrived) to “The Stables,” where I went for some horseback riding.  “The Stables” is a Gateway Canyons off-site 500 acre ranch where guests can enjoy an authentic western horseback riding experience. The riding trails climb over 1,500 feet in elevation and provide access to the area’s spectacular scenery.  The guides will take you on an exploration of the Uncompahgre Plateau, the surrounding picturesque desert and red rock canyons.  You’ll also enjoy seeing how the horses are cared for…they have it pretty darn good—residing in barn that looks more like a lodge.

It had been a while since I had been horseback riding, so while I hate to admit it…I was a little sore.  Thankfully my room came with its own private patio hot tub, where I took a nice long soak.  The resort has sort of two lodging accommodations available…the Kiva Lodge (this is where I stayed), which is a bit more upscale and what you’d expect from a high quality resort.  Then they have the Dolores River Inn, which is also quite nice, but is a bit more affordable.  Whether you stay in the Kiva Lodge, or the Dolores River Inn, each come with several accommodation levels depending on your individual needs—this flexibility makes the resort really accessible for all types of travelers.  Gateway Canyons Resort has been able to create and strike what I feel is the perfect balance.  The setting is second to none; there are plenty of activities with lots of open space.  The Resort would make an amazing setting for a wedding, romantic get-a-way or a family vacation.

After my soak and a shower, I headed to Entrada, one of three restaurants on the property.  Entrada is their fine-dining restaurant, serving hand-crafted dishes rich in flavors from the Colorado plateau.  I began my evening with a glass of wine in the lounge listening to the acoustic sounds of Jeffery Pine.  It was such a lovely evening I opted to dine on the patio with the soothing sounds of water running from a nearby feature, along with the mesmerizing views of the iconic Palisade rock formation as the sun began to bestow its cascading amber glow accentuating its features.

I enjoyed a pear and spinach salad to start, followed by Crisp Colorado Striped Bass with cilantro & sundried tomato pesto, along with sauté of baby spinach and black quinoa—it was absolutely delectable.  For dessert, I enjoyed a do-it-yourself s’more.  A plate was brought out with two homemade sugar cookies, a piece of fine Swiss chocolate and two large marshmallows.   A skewer was made available, and a large fire in the middle of the patio provided the flame—kids of all ages must love this dessert!

I also dined at the Paradox Grill a couple times for lunch and dinner…a bit more casual, but equally as good.  One evening I enjoyed sautéed Rainbow Trout with mustard seed, lemon blanc and calico rice…oh was it delicious.

The owner of the resort is John Hendricks, founder of the Discovery Channel—one of his passions is collecting classic cars.  Mr. Hendricks’ collection had grown to a point where he needed a place to house all his cars, so he built a state-of-the-art museum on the Gateway Canyons property for all to enjoy. This is yet another activity at the resort you won’t want to miss.  I was so impressed by the museum that I have dedicated a separate post and video to it.  Click the following link to see pictures and video of the Gateway Auto Museum.

It’s difficult not to use every cliché imaginable to describe the Gateway Canyons Resort; because they all apply…it really is a “hidden gem.”  The Resort is a few years old, with a number of the structures and amenities just recently opened.  I can’t imagine this place staying a secret for much longer, so do yourself a favor and visit it soon; I promise you will not be disappointed.

Click the following link to see more of my pictures of the Gateway Canyons Resort.  If you’ve been to Gateway Canyons Resort, let my readers and me know what you thought?  If you’ve enjoyed this post, please click the “like” button below and share with your friends and family.

A Look at Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray, Colorado

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is located in one of the coolest “small towns” you’ll come across…Ouray, Colorado.  Ouray is located off of highway 550 (aka Million Dollar Highway, which BTW is aptly named), just north of Silverton and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Lodge gets its name due to its proximity to the famous “box canyon,” which is just stone’s throw from the motel.   The main part Ouray is a mere five blocks wide, by five blocks long, so most everything is within walking distance.

Situated just a couple blocks off the main drag, the Box Canyon Lodge provides a quiet atmosphere, while at the same time being close to everything.   For a motel, I found the Box Canyon Lodge to be very well appointed, with comfortable beds, nice linens and was extremely clean.



All rooms come standard with king, queen or two queen beds…with microwave & refrigerator.   They also have a few suites that are larger and come with fireplaces…which is where I stayed.  My room was very spacious and comfortable, with a separate living area that had a pull-out couch so that you could accommodate a family and still have separate areas.

One of the coolest features of the Lodge is the fact that they have their own hot spring with several soaking tubs to enjoy.  The tubs are terraced up the hillside of the property…as you work your way up each flight, the temperature goes up with you.  Unlike many typical hot springs in Colorado, the ones in Ouray have no sulfur odor.

Interestingly, the Lodge takes advantage of their hot spring rights and uses a geothermal heat exchange system to heat each of the rooms, which maintains a comfortable temperature.

During your stay at the Box Canyon Lodge, you’ll appreciate some of their amenities:

  • Light continental breakfast to curb the appetite
  • DVD movies
  • Landry facility
  • Free in-room Wi-Fi

Click the following link to see more pictures of the Box Canyon Lodge.  If you’ve been to the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs before, please let my readers and I know what you think.  For more information on the Lodge, visit: BoxCanyonOuray.com

If you’ve enjoyed this review of the Box Canyon Lodge, please share it with your friends by clicking the “like” button below. Click the following link for more Colorado B&B’s.

Blue Lake Ranch B&B; A Hidden Gem off the Durango Beaten Path

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

When you first enter Blue Lake Ranch Bed and Breakfast, it’s hard to know what to expect…there are no large monument signs and no visual structure to lead your eye.  As you follow the signs, making your way up a meandering hill, you come across the “Ranch House,” which is the focal point of the property.  Even as you park your car you may feel as though this B&B is a bit unassuming, but that’s only because the lush vegetation briefly hinders the beauty from your visual receptors.

As you enter the Ranch House you’re warmly greeted by the splendor of the space and the majestic views of Blue Lake.  The property around the Ranch House is beautifully landscaped with a variety of trees, plants and colorful blooms to delight the senses.   The patio (overlooking Blue Lake) is furnished with a number of seating areas for enjoying your morning breakfast on a nice summer day, or perhaps to do some stargazing on a moonless night.

While the Ranch House serves as the focal point for activity, it’s also home to three rooms, including the Lake View Suite, where I stayed.  My accommodations were very well-appointed and spacious with a king-sized bed, beautiful old-world style woodwork and cabinetry, with a lavish bathroom that included a whirlpool tub.  There was plenty of room for luggage and relaxing.  The deck overlooking the lake, while watching the sunset beyond…was especially enjoyable.

Blue Lake Ranch encompasses 200 acres and has a number of structures that provide diverse accommodations.  There is the Spring House that has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a large living area.  The expansive deck provides views of a small pond and snow-capped mountains in the distance, which is perfect for two couples wanting to share a vacation.

Then there is the secluded lake-side cabin with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, which is perfect for families.  For a romantic get-away, you may opt for the “Cottage in the woods.”  Whatever your accommodation requirements, the Blue Lake Ranch can probably fill it.  They even have an event center where you can get married, hold a corporate retreat or perhaps host a family reunion or other special event.

The Ranch has grown a lot since its modest beginnings.  The property was purchased over thirty five years ago by David Alford and was originally a Norwegian homestead.  When David purchased the property there was but a single structure and it took a decade before he was ready to open for business.  Now the Ranch can host up to 60 guests.

There are trails throughout the property so that you can explore its many wondrous features.  There are a number of places to sit and take-in the boundless beauty—whether it be lakeside, in the garden, by the river or by a water feature.   The lake is stocked with trout, so if you’re interested in trying your hand at some fishin’ you can do that too (note: catch and release).   

Blue Lake Ranch Bed and Breakfast is really a place where you can truly relax and rejuvenate.  I typically like to explore the area in which I’m staying, but I felt bound to the Ranch with its gravitational pull toward nature.  My walks through the property yielded wildlife sightings like deer, geese, elk and a number of birds. There are so many colors and textures throughout the property that each time you pass by the same location, you often discover something new that attracts your attention.

In your minds-eye I’ve described the sense of sight, sound, touch and smell…the only left remaining, is taste—that too will delight.  Served buffet style, breakfast at the Blue Lake Ranch is hearty and delicious.  From fresh ground coffee to whole wheat pancakes with pine nuts (note: real maple syrup would have made it perfect), to eggs with garden fresh asparagus and ham, fresh fruit, to homemade apple pie,  granola and too many other things to list.  That was just one morning.

It’s hard to find anything wrong with this Durango Bed and Breakfast…for this level of quality accommodations…even the rates are reasonable.  I should also add that the staff is amazingly friendly and hospitable.

Click the following link to see more of my pictures of Blue Lake Ranch Bed and Breakfast.  If you’ve ever stayed at Blue Lake Ranch B&B just outside of Durango, please let my readers and I know what you thought.  And, if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, please hit the “like” button below and share it with your friends and family.

If the Blue Lake Ranch is booked, check out other area lodging: Bed and Breakfasts in Boulder,