Day Trip: Gateway Canyons


One of the Grand Kiva Suites at Gateway Canyons’ Kiva Lodge
While Aspen is pretty close to paradise, even the most devout local needs a change of scenery now and then. Approximately three hours away, southwest of Grand Junction in the Dolores River Valley, is a town and resort that feels like a different land and state. With towering spires, high-desert landscapes and a river running through it, it’s a small piece of Colorado left undiscovered—almost.

Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks grew up hearing about the American West and of Red Rock country from his father. “I got my first look at the Rocky Mountains [at age 22] and fell in love,” he says. “It was all my father had ever talked about and more.”

Soon he and his wife, Maureen, found a ranch in Red Rock country in a barely there town called Gateway. The landscape, anchored by the imposing Palisade Rock Formation, so enamored Hendricks, a former Nature Conservancy board member, that he felt compelled to preserve the land, share it with others and at the same time help revitalize the local ranching community.

When Hendricks’ 54-room Gateway Canyons resort opened in 2005, he wanted its landscape to be the main attraction, with an education and activity component included. Today, the resort is home to the state-of-the-art Palisade Event Center, Entrada Restaurant and a full-service spa. At the Adventure Center at Gateway Canyons guests are outfi tted and guided on outdoor adventures like horseback riding, rafting and air tours in the resorts’ Cessna Caravan, Big Red.

In September, a new chapter of Gateway Canyons begins with Discovery Retreats. This educational and vacation program features some segments that relate to Curiosity: The Questions of Life series on Discovery Channel. The intent, says Hendricks, is to bring people and experts from the show together for indepth discussions and outdoor adventure, while digging into life’s big questions, such as “Are we alone in the universe?”

“For the last 20 years I’ve had this mental list of things I’ve wanted to do,” Hendricks says. “I’m beginning to bring that list to life.”


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