Expectations Exceeded

As a lover of travel and horses, when I was invited to Gateway Canyons in western Colorado, I eagerly accepted. John Hendricks, founder of the Discovery Channel, has built a visionary luxury resort at the center of five canyons. Providing a breathtaking backdrop for the luxury resort are the picturesque Palisades, which seem almost too beautiful to be real, and offer an endless opportunity for adventure selfies. I can confirm however, after driving a UTV to the top of one of the Mesas, that they are in fact the real deal!

Mi Casita, Su Casita

Upon arrival, and after I had finally stopped taking photos of the alluring scenery, I was taken to my private casita, where I was greeted by a blue door with a brass knocker in the shape of a sun. Once
inside I was instantly infatuated with the design. The rich color pallet of reds and blues in bold patterns struck a perfect balance with the rustic wood barn doors. It is truly a design masterpiece and without question, the most luxurious and well designed accommodations I have ever had the pleasure to stay in. I quickly learned that this was a standard at Gateway Canyons; details are never missed.

Gateway Canyons

The Gateway Stables staff are professional and friendly led by head wrangler, Ross Bronson (left).

A la Carte Adventure

One of the most unique features of Gateway Canyons is the wide variety of adventures available to guests. The resort was nearly at capacity the week of my stay, yet I felt as though I had been handed the keys to my own private Colorado oasis.

We started our day off in UTVs; taking turns driving, we climbed to the top of one of the mesas. While the rocky terrain provided plenty of turbulence, there was something peaceful about the whole experience. Perhaps it was because we were the only people on the trail, or maybe it was the vibrations at our feet as we made our way up the side of the Mesa. The UTV turned out to be just a taste of the adventures awaiting. A private helicopter tour, luxury car rentals, customized adventures, all were available to explore one of Colorado’s richest areas. If you’re like me and need some time to re-coup from an adventure-packed day, the Spa was far and away one of the best parts of the trip. Like the rest of the resort, it was elegantly decorated, and the treatments were sublime.


Curator of Curiosity

As I began to get a peek into the culture of Gateway Canyons, it was no surprise that they have one of the most interesting people in the world on staff: Zebulon Miracle, whose official title is the ‘Curator of Curiosity.’ The mission of the Curator of Curiosity is to enable guests and visitors to see, hear, and experience first hand, the natural and man-made wonders of western Colorado. Mr. Miracle, ‘Zeb,’ illuminated the experiences which included a tour of the auto museum, an off-resort excursion to see dinosaur tracks, and probably my most favorite, his story about how the stars fell into the sky, a Navajo legend involving a mischievous coyote. Zeb exemplified the passion and knowledge that was apparent in all of the Gateway Canyons staff.

Horse Heaven

Of course it was thrilling to ride in a helicopter, and extremely tranquil at the spa, but like any horse girl, I really wanted to get to the barn. My first outing with the horses was a trail ride with our group to a Cowboy Cookout. The lead wrangler instantly spotted me as the rider in the group; it was either my natural way around the horses, or my head-to-toe Ariat ensemble, complete with cowboy boots! After all, it’s not often that someone from the Hunter/Jumper world gets to trade paddock boots for boots with embroidered flowers and pointed toes.

Gateway Canyons

Sarah Appel outfitted in Ariat headed out on the trail.

After the initial ride, I was invited back to the ranch the next day to go on a three-hour trail ride with the head wrangler, Ross. The stables were just down the road from the resort and had a very similar feeling of calm and beauty. The horses mostly roam on acres of grass fields, with brief stays in the barn. Everything about the experience was truly amazing. The horses were well cared for, the trails were breathtaking, and the wranglers were true horsemen. My only regret is that I didn’t have another day to enjoy more of the horses and trails.

I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit in my life, and there are few places across the world that have become engraved into my fondest memories. Gateway Canyons has been added to that list, and I can’t wait to go back and share the magic of Colorado with my friends and family.

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