Note: This is an update of a post previously published in 2016.
There’s something to be said for staying at a place that’s conveniently located close to restaurants, shops, and gas stations. You can park your car at the end of the day and simply walk to dinner. On the other hand, laying your head down at night in a peaceful location where you hear nothing but crickets chirping can be the perfect end to your day in canyon country. These five places to stay will guarantee you gorgeous red rock views and a dark, starry sky at night.
Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast (near Mexican Hat)
You often hear people talk about living “off the grid.” Well, this is the real deal, folks. Located between Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah, the inn lies at the bottom of the famous Moki Dugway—a graded dirt road that switchbacks down the cliffs of Cedar Mesa. Gary and Claire Dorgan have built the only home within the 360,000 acres that make up the Cedar Mesa Cultural and Recreational Management Area. Electricity and hot water are generated by solar and wind power, and water must be trucked in from nearby Mexican Hat. All rooms have private baths and include a full breakfast. I once overheard someone at the overlook at the top of the Moki Dugway say, “Why on Earth would someone want to live down there?” I thought to myself, “Why would someone NOT?” This is one bed and breakfast experience you won’t soon forget.
Lodging: $175-195 Double, $145 Single. Open year-round.
Reservations: http://www.valleyofthegodsbandb.com, 970-749-1164
Pine Shadows Cabins (Teasdale, near Capitol Reef NP)
I stayed here for the first time on my recent trip to Capitol Reef. When I reserved my cabin, I knew the location would be peaceful and quiet. But I had no idea what a treat I was in for until I walked in and looked out the large picture window on the back 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 four-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 out exploring and hiking in Capitol Reef National Park.
Lodging: 5 cabins ($89-109), 1 two-bedroom family cabin ($139). Stay 6 nights and get the 7th night free. Two-night minimum stay. Closed from Nov-Feb.
Reservations: http://www.pineshadowcabins.net, 435-425-3939
Sunlit Oasis (Notom Road, near Capitol Reef NP)
I first discovered this cozy ranch home back in 2007, when after three nights of camping in Capitol Reef, I was ready for a comfortable bed and a private shower. At the time, it was called Notom Ranch Bed and Breakfast and was owned by Chad and Roma Roderick. I fell in love with the place and started going back every year (we used to joke that they invited me once and then couldn’t get rid of me). The Rodericks retired in 2016, and Notom Ranch is now the Sunlit Oasis—I can’t think of a more fitting name. The new innkeepers, Leah and Kenley, have kept the rooms and décor much as it was. The wrap-around deck upstairs gives you amazing views of Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold to the west, and of the Henry Mountains to the east. I have so many great memories of sitting on that deck after dark, just looking at the stars and feeling like I was worlds away from everything. All rooms have private baths with jetted tubs and include a full breakfast. Dinner is served for $10 per person, but you must request it in advance when you make your reservation. Take note that the property is about 25 miles from the nearest restaurants in Torrey.
Lodging: 3 rooms $140, 1 room $110. Open year-round; lower rates offered during winter (Nov-Feb).
Reservations: https://www.sunlit-oasis.com, 435-456-9153
Kiva Kottages (Escalante)
About midway between the towns of Boulder and Escalante on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 is a unique structure touted by many to be “an experience not to be missed in southern Utah.” 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 spacious cottages that provide views that 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. 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.
Lodging: 2 cottages $190. Closed Nov-Feb.
Reservations: kivakoffeehouse.com, 435-826-4550
Red Cliffs Lodge (Hwy 128, near Moab)
Red Cliffs Lodge is located 17 scenic miles up the “river road” (Hwy 128) from Moab. It may seem like an inconvenience to be that far from the adventure hub, but you’ll forget about the drive once you see the lodge’s location: a collection of western-style cabins and suites surrounded by 360-degree views of redrock pinnacles and sandstone rims. The full-service resort has an on-site restaurant, as well as a winery (which offers tastings) and a movie museum featuring artifacts from some of the many films made in the Moab area. There’s also a small gift store and a bar, where you can order a drink and sip it on the outside deck while watching the sunset. Rooms have private patios, many with river views, and kitchens. So if you’re inclined to eat a peaceful dinner “at home,” you can bring your own food and cook in your room. The lodge will also arrange activities for you, such as jeep tours and trail rides.
Lodging: King and queen mini-suites ($239.95) and larger cabins ($339.95). Large cabins are closed during winter, but mini-suites can be as low as $119.95 in Jan-Feb.
Reservations: www.redcliffslodge.com, 866-812-2002