Mud season in Colorado means one thing: the ski resorts have closed, and it’s time for a little fun in the sun. Powder days on the mountain are done, and now, the desert is calling, and we must go. Goodbye rosy cheeks and goggle-tans. It’s time to strip down, lather up, and soak up some much needed time in the dry, hot, sandy, dirty desert that’s just a drive away.

If you tend to associate Colorado with world-class skiing, you’re not alone. But this outdoorsy state has so much more to offer than skiing alone. So much, in fact, that I was inspired to put a spin on the typical go-to mud season desert itinerary. That’s right, rather than loading up my vehicle with everything but the camp kitchen sink, I took another route; a route that lead me straight to a more luxurious off-season adventure.

So, how exactly can you escape to the desert in style? Plan a visit to Gateway Canyons Resort, that’s how. If you’ve never been before, now is the time; here’s everything you need to know about this western Colorado oasis plopped right in the middle of the desert.

Your pick of lodging options

Being stuck in a hotel room is far from my idea of a vacation. But that’s not an issue at Gateway. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. While the lodging options are wonderful, the sprawling landscape is right outside your door, so you’re next “stuck” inside with nothing to do.

The accommodations effortlessly blend into the natural surroundings, making this place a dream come true for any luxury-loving-meets-outdoorsy-gal. Ranging in everything from hotel rooms to suites with private hot tubs, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for the best of the best, I’d recommend staying in a casita, which is your very own little adobe style house.

Staying active is easy

Finding a destination that offers luxury and the opportunity to feed your adventurous soul isn’t always easy. But at Gateway Canyons, there’s no need to sacrifice one for the other. In fact, there’s an entire adventure center that’s ready and waiting to cater to your every whim.

Love hiking, climbing, and mountain biking? No problem, the red rocks region is the place to be. Off-roading, skeet shooting, or horseback riding more your style? At Gateway, you can do it all. (Note: The adventures and excursions are available at an additional cost, so call ahead for further details and rates.)   

Fast cars galore

If luxury cars are more your speed, you’re going to love this. While I’m no gal who needs the latest and greatest, especially when it comes to cars — after all, my vehicle mostly sees dirty river gear, camp kitchen essentials, and stinky ski boots — driving a fancy car is pretty awesome. And I’m talking super fancy. With the Driven Experiences program, guests are afforded the opportunity — at an additional cost — to drive the most tricked out whips the industry has to offer. Personally, I had my eyes set on a Bentley, which I was lucky enough to get to take out for a spin during my stay at the resort. There’s nothing quite like cruising through the canyons with the wind in your hair … in a Bentley.         

Plush pool scene

Soaking in the grotto-like hot tub. Playing volleyball in the pool. Sipping a cocktail in the shadow of the famous Palisade. It’s all at your fingertips at the Palisade Pool. Seriously though, it’s luxury lounging at its finest. The sun-drenched spot is the perfect location to kick back, relax, and grab some grub from the Cantina Bar. The menu stands to change from time to time, but the food is just what you’re looking for during an afternoon of lounging poolside.      

[divider]Guest Contributor[/divider]

Julie Peirano is a writer and adventurer based in Telluride, CO.