A Go-To Gearhead Girls’ Trip

All photos courtesy Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa

All photos courtesy Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa

Google “best girls’ trips” and you will likely get a lot of recommendations for resort spas in beautiful locales. While Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa in Unaweep Canyon has a full-service spa and is in an undeniably stunning location, its appeal goes well beyond fine dining and relaxation. For women who love cars and appreciate driven adventure, a getaway to Gateway is a perfect match and something well beyond the ordinary.

Start Your Engines

When John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel, established Gateway Canyons in 2005, the Gateway Auto Museum was an original component. Established to house Hendrick’s impressive collection of American automobiles, the museum showcases everything from a 1912 Ford Model T Speedster, to luxury Duesenbergs and Packards, to the muscle cars of the 1960s and 70s. Of note, the collection includes the only remaining 1954 F-88 Motorama Dream Car, acquired at auction in 2007 for more than $3.2 million. 

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Painstakingly restored, the collection is noteworthy not just for engines and tires, but as a representation of an American aesthetic and 20th century design. Prepare to be blown away by the sheer beauty of the cars.

While exploring the museum can satisfyingly fill an hour or two, other resort offerings focus on getting guests behind the wheel. According to Zebulon Miracle, the resort’s curator of curiosity programing, a primary emphasis at Gateway Canyons is providing opportunities for guests to “see, do, and experience” the resort’s unique natural, cultural, and historical setting.

For adventure on four wheels, the ultimate hands-on experience is a guided UTV tour into the canyons above the resort. (UTVs are similar to four-wheel ATVs, only the U stands for utility, and riders sit side by side.) The vehicles are easy and safe to drive, with beefy harnesses and mandatory full-face helmets.

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When some friends and I did a tour up John Brown Canyon last fall, we switched off driving, with one of us driving one way and the other taking the wheel on the return. The driving was exhilarating and the landscape was gorgeous, with plenty of on-the-fly photo and video opportunities for the vehicle’s passenger. 

When we reached the top of a nearby mesa, a guide (who drove up in his own UTV) provided information on geology and a fascinating look into the murderous life of John Brown, an early local mining baron. 

The UTV experience is dusty and dirty; if you prefer something more enclosed, the resort also offers guided Jeep tours. Those looking for a luxe experience can choose from Gateway Canyons’ stable of sports cars, including a Tesla Roadster, Porsche Carrera 911, and Shelby Cobra GT500. These cars are perfect for a day trip to Telluride, just two hours away via Scenic Byway 141 through the winding, red-rocked Dolores River Canyon.

If cars aren’t your thing, other Gateway Canyons adventures include guided shooting, fly-fishing, hiking, horseback riding, air tours, and more.

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Worth the Splurge

As an internationally known destination — most recently named one of Colorado’s top luxury resorts by Condé Nast Traveler — a getaway to Gateway isn’t cheap, especially if you stay overnight in one of the two resort lodges. However, depending upon the time of year, Gateway Canyons offers discounts to Colorado residents. Head to gatewaycanyons.com for current packages and offers.

The resort is only an hour away from Grand Junction, making day trips a delightful possibility for locals to enjoy!