We arrived at Under Canvas quite late in the day, after detouring a few hours to make sure we saw Monument Valley and the infamous Forrest Gump highway. We had no idea what to expect, as this was our first time staying at any Under Canvas property, so we had only booked one night just in case it wasn’t what we expected.
I can’t tell you how much I wish I had left more flexibility in our schedule so that we could have stayed at least one more night. It was MAGICAL. It’s the kind of place I mentally go back to frequently. I think I cried when we walked to our tent? It’s honestly a bit of a blur.
Since we arrived just before sunset we quickly checked in and showered so that we could make it to dinner before the last glimmer of light was gone. The entire property is perched high on a plateau looking out over the vast Utah and Arizona desert, so the sunsets are incredible. Shades of blue, orange and pink all blend together on the rocks – only to be intercepted by the occasional tree or glimpse of a road. It would have been easy to convince me I was on another planet. At least until I sit down for dinner and order some fries and a bottle of a very familiar cab. I wonder if this is what a human future on Mars looks like?
We order a hamburger, fries, a steak, two bottles of wine – my husband wants red and I want white and Utah law prohibits sale by the glass. The sun begins to set and more guests sit down in the outdoor dining/lounge area we’re in. Children play around a campfire, some make s’mores, adults sip wine and stare into the desert night. Once we finish dinner we take one of our bottles back to our tent to enjoy on our porch. I give my husband a look that says “is this real? Am I imagining it all?”
At night the tent canvas whispers in the wind. It seems nature is your sound machine here. The room is a bit chilly so I burrow deeper into the thick pile of luxe linens on the bed. There’s a wood-burning stove in the tent, but I don’t think we need it. I hear distant voices of others who also brought back wine and fun to their tents, but I can’t help but close my eyes and feel a total sense of relaxation. I’m lulled to sleep.
I couldn’t even tell you if I set an alarm for the morning – the tent canvas softly lights up as the sun rises and I wake up. Something about waking up this way feels so natural and yet unfamiliar. We check out in a few hours and I make a mental promise to myself to come back here.
Before breakfast we decide to take a last minute hike at an on-site slot canyon. It’s not supposed to be a long or difficult trek, but we get lost, so it takes us over an hour. The vast desert expanse looks the same in all directions. We end up joining two other hikers looking for the same canyon and finally find it. I give my husband another glance. “Worth it.”
If you decide to make your way to an Under Canvas property, Lake Powell was the newest opening last year. It’s in a perfect spot to explore most of the American Southwest as you sit right on the border of Utah and Arizona. It can be pricey depending on when you go, but you truly get an experience out of it rather than just a place to stay. And if you do stay a few nights, you have lots of options for exploring and/or doing an entire Under Canvas road trip:
- Horseshoe Bend – You’ll have a different experience depending on the time of day; I recommend midday so that the entire canyon is lit up. 1-2 hour experience.
- Antelope Canyon – At least a half-day experience. You’ll need a guide.
- Grand Staircase – You’re sort of *in* this area already and it’s 1.7 million acres so LOTS to see.
- Monument Valley – A half-day to full-day to drive there and back.
- Grand Canyon – It’s a 2.5 hour drive to either the North or South entrance (pending any reservation road closures.) Plan a full day or stay at Under Canvas Grand Canyon.
- Bryce Canyon – 2.5 hour drive and time spent there will depend on what hike you do. Under Canvas property coming soon here too.
- Zion National Park – 2 hour drive and you guessed it! Another Under Canvas property.
- Lake Powell – 20 minute drive to the marina; rent a boat and explore from there.
Most of the attractions in this area, including Under Canvas properties are open from March – October so just make sure you plan accordingly. Different seasons will of course mean different experiences – but all of them equally magical. 🙂