I’ll admit, I’m just not a big fan of chain hotels. Sure, they do the trick—a bed, a shower, etc. But when I have a choice, I’ll always opt for the local lodging options. I prefer smaller places that have a personal touch, and local owners can always steer you to the best restaurants, activities, and places to see. Whether you’re traveling on a shoestring or you’re planning a big “splurge” trip, this list of five local Utah lodging options includes a place that fits just about every budget.
Moab Digs (Moab)
I first discovered “the Digs,” as they call it, a few months ago when I was delivering my new Utah Canyon Country guidebook to the national parks near Moab. I knew I wasn’t likely to be disappointed in the unit, based on the reviews I had read. But when I walked in the door…wowza! The place was impeccably clean, and I absolutely loved the “warehouse chic” décor that fits perfectly with Moab’s adventure vibe. There are two units—“Up Top” and “Down Below.” I stayed in the downstairs unit, which has a huge bathroom and an amazing shower with blue tile floor and a rainfall shower head (god, I love those things). There’s a kitchen with full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove, and a washer/dryer in the bathroom. The location is ideal, in a residential Moab area within walking distance of restaurants and shops. Yep, you won’t want to leave—you’ll want to move in. One thing to be aware of: reservations are only taken through AirBnB, so you must have an AirBnB account to book.
Lodging: 2 units ($175-195). Lower rates offered in winter.
Moenkopi and Wingate Yurts (Dead Horse Point State Park)
If you’ve ever wished you could really experience Dead Horse Point State Park beyond just doing a quick stop at the overlook, consider spending a night or two in one of the park’s yurts—circular structures built on a wooden deck. Note that this is not a resort experience; this is roughing it a bit. But the peace and quiet and dark, starry sky will be worth the inconvenience of having to skip taking a shower for a couple of nights. Each yurt sleeps up to six people and includes bunk beds (bring your own bed linens or sleeping bags), a dining table and chairs, heating and cooling, and electricity. Restrooms are within walking distance (no shower facilities). Keep in mind that this is a high desert area, and Dead Horse Point has no natural water source; water from the spigots should be used sparingly. In 2017, the park added six new yurts, for a total of nine now. But even with the new additions, they still book up far in advance, so plan accordingly.
Lodging: 9 yurts ($140)
Reservations: reserveamerica.com, 800-322-3770
Pine Shadows Cabins (Teasdale, near Capitol Reef NP)
The first time I reserved one of these cabins, I knew it would be peaceful and quiet. But I had no idea what a treat I was in for until I looked out the large picture window on the rear side of the cabin. Just beyond my private little patio was a drop-dead gorgeous view of pinon pines and Navajo Sandstone bluffs. At night, the sky is filled with so many stars, you’ll think you’re hundreds of miles from civilization. All cabins come with a full-size refrigerator, range, microwave, coffeemaker, and dishes and eating utensils. There’s also a flatscreen TV (which I didn’t turn on once during my 4-day stay). The only danger of staying here is that you might like the view so much, you’ll spend more time at the cabin than hiking in Capitol Reef National Park.
Lodging: 5 cabins ($100), 1 two-bedroom cabin ($150). Two-night minimum stay. Closed from Nov-Feb.
Reservations: http://www.pineshadowcabins.net, 435-425-3939
Rainbow Country Bed and Breakfast (Escalante)
As you drive down the residential road to this bed and breakfast, you might think you made a wrong turn, as there’s nothing that really “looks” like a bed and breakfast. But that’s part of the charm of Rainbow Country B&B—it kind of feels like you’re just stopping in to visit relatives in Escalante. I discovered this place a few years ago, and I’ve returned several times. Rooms feature early settler décor and antique furnishings, all with full baths (two of the rooms have in-room baths, while two have baths across the hall). One of the best parts about staying here is the friendly innkeeper Catherine, who runs the inn with her husband Clark. She’ll chat with you over breakfast and give you lots of tips about places to see in the area. Room rates include a full breakfast, with items like egg dishes and blueberry pancakes. If you ask nicely, Catherine will give a small discount to solo travelers.
Lodging: 5 rooms ($89-124); open mid-March to late November
Reservations: www.bnbescalante.com, 435-826-4567
Kiva Kottages (Escalante)
About midway between the towns of Boulder and Escalante on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 is a unique structure that’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Created by the late artist and engineer Bradshaw Bowman, the main building is crafted from logs, stone, and glass and houses the Kiva Koffeehouse. Situated beneath the “Kiva” on the rim are two cottages with views you’ll have to pinch yourself to believe. Each cottage is tastefully but simply decorated and has a jetted tub, refrigerator, fireplace, and small dining table. As much as I love hiking in the Escalante area, I almost didn’t want to leave the room when I stayed here. Although the location is adjacent to Hwy 12, traffic tends to be light after dark, and you’ll enjoy killer sunsets and a peaceful star-filled sky from your window or the outdoor sitting area. The nightly rate includes breakfast in Kiva Koffeehouse.
Lodging: 2 cottages ($200). Closed Nov-Feb.
Reservations: kivakoffeehouse.com, 435-826-4550