There are destinations in America that have been constructed specifically to cater to our notion of “the bucket list.” Visiting these places are rites of passage, adventures that must be experienced first-hand, checked off the list (and Instagrammed). For children, it may be Disney World. For bachelors, it’s Las Vegas. For luxury car enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies, it’s Gateway Canyons Resort.
The resort sits at the confluence of five red rock canyons in southwestern Colorado. The unique geological byway used to be homesteaded and mined. Before that it was Ute country and well before that it was crawling with dinosaurs—a hotbed of paleontology, their footprints are still being uncovered.
Today, John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Communications and a world-class car collector, owns the property. Here he created a high-end oasis to satisfy his particular brand of curiosities.
Gateway Canyons Auto Museum features over 50 of the most prized and pristinely restored antique cars. Hendricks’ private collection tells the story of the 20th Century from the 1906 Cadillac Model H Coupe, to a 1954 Oldsmobile “concept car,” to the historic NASCAR Chevrolet raced by Jimmie Johnson.
Next door, Driven Experiences houses Hendricks’ collection of modern luxury automobiles—all of which are available to rent. If a joyride in a Bentley convertible through twisty canyon roads is not already on your bucket list, consider updating it now.
Driven Experiences also has two customized Pro-Baja trucks. Aggressive and exhilarating, these trucks are feats of engineering. They tear up the off-road course and fly over bumps at 80 miles per hour—all with a surprisingly smooth ride.
Gateway Canyons has an in-house “Curator of Curiosities,” Zebulon Miracle (no joke), who guides hikes through the canyons. His knowledge of the geology, paleontology and the human history of western Colorado is fascinating and infectious. His boss is the founder of the Discovery Channel, after all.
Helicopter Air Tours offer guests a bird’s eye view of the ranch and surrounding canyons. They are also available for day trips to fly-fish, to golf in Telluride or simply as transport to nearby destinations. Aspen, anyone?
The list goes on: rafting and tubing, climbing and rappelling, mountain biking, ATV off-roading, horseback riding at the Palisade Ranch, plus two restaurants and a top of the line spa.
Not many places can tick this many adventure boxes all contained in one stunning natural environment.
Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa has 72 luxury guest rooms and suites including 14 private casitas, many with their own outdoor fire, hot tub or shower. The resort is an hour drive southwest of Grand Junction Regional Airport, which offers non-stop flights from Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Room rates in the low season (Nov-April) start at $299 per night, high season (May-Oct): $499.