Last updated November 29, 2022
Utah’s Red Mountain Resort is the perfect low-key, take-off spot for exploring Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.
Your adventure awaits. That’s the mantra of Red Mountain Resort, set in the dramatic red rock bluffs of Southwestern Utah. Though the resort includes a spa and salon, it’s very much a resort that caters to guests who are as keen to test their bodies’ limits as they are to receive treatments.
The adventure begins with a flight into Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport. Vegas is two hours and a galaxy in ambience away from Red Mountain Resort.
I hadn’t been to Las Vegas in about 20 years, so my friend and I opted to spend the night. Since I was coming from the East and Vegas was three hours behind my usual time zone, I got up early and walked The Strip to gawk at the over-the-top hotels I’ve often read about.
Outdoors, Las Vegas Boulevard was full of tourists, convention-goers and runners. It felt like a giant adult playground. Although there were many vagrants as well, the area felt safe due to the multitudes I encountered. Of course, inside the hotels, the atmosphere was grand and felt even safer, albeit artificial.
Heading to My 40th State
Despite the eye-popping sights of Vegas, I was eager to get to Utah (my 40th state!). We headed toward the mountains and Ivins, home of Red Mountain Resort.
The short ride through Nevada, Arizona and then into Utah was pleasant and scenic. I was concerned that as we headed into the mountains the roads might become narrow and treacherous to drive. There was one brief curvy stretch that wasn’t difficult to navigate at all. Shew.
The desert landscape became increasingly red (from the iron content) as we arrived in Ivins, which has an elevation of 3,081 feet above sea level. We also went forward an hour into Mountain Time.
The 130-room Red Mountain Resort is a small oasis set next to Snow Canyon, a stunning state park. The resort offers free daily guided hikes for guests on all-inclusive packages (which also include accommodations, bike rentals, meals, fitness classes and Wi-Fi).
Since the emphasis is on hiking and biking rather than luxury, the accommodations are classic and rustic. Depending on the season, prices start at roughly $400 per night for all-inclusive packages.
The resort is open year-round, but isn’t a skiing destination like northern Utah. The winter temperatures range from the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit at night to the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit during the day in winter months. The best seasons to visit, I was told, are fall and spring. Summer is intensely hot.
Serene Views & Red Rock Cliffs
My ground floor Desert Oasis King room had a comfortable bed and a large bathroom, with an enclosed toilet closet and a “deep soaking” tub/shower. The closet housed a safe, coffee maker and coffee, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, extra toiletries and a robe.
There was no in-room housekeeping available during my three-night stay. But I could put out my trash and make requests for more towels or other items as needed. I also could have brought my dog along.
My friend opted for a villa, which was also furnished in mountain rustic style. The villa is quite a bit larger than my guest room with two queen beds, a separate shower and soaker tub, a gas fireplace, a deck with a fan, a view of the mountains—and access to a private pool area.
All meals were served at the Canyon Breeze Restaurant, where you could eat inside or in the courtyard. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style. Dinner consisted of artfully presented entrees including a burger, a red chile and chicken stew, pasta Bolognese, salmon, free range chicken, tacos and grilled Angus steak. They also served plant-based options in the form of tofu and tempeh dishes. Specials were added daily, and cocktails were available with meals.
There was also a “Canyon Counter” that was open for breakfast and into the afternoon. Guests could purchase “to go” meals, which are ideal for when you head out on an adventure or if you opted for a non-inclusive package.
Fitness & Wellness at Red Mountain Resort
Other notables included the Sagestone Spa & Salon, a gift shop, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, the largest spiral labyrinth I’ve ever seen (12 rotations in and out set in the desert behind the resort’s main building) and a meditation pavilion. There were also self-service laundry rooms on the property—a welcome sight after dirtying yourself in the red desert.
Soon after checking into the resort, my friend and I headed to the Wellness Center. We joined a Melt class that focused on the extremities, led by the fitness director, Kim. This science-backed technique involves the manipulation of small balls to improve circulation and rehydrate the connective tissue in the hands and feet that are achy due to aging and overuse. All I can say is that it worked well enough that I purchased the balls for use at home! We then took a gentle stretching class led by Zach, a mobility specialist.
The clientele at the resort skewed to women, as most wellness resorts and spas do. I did see a few couples and several women who came solo.
Once dinner ended around 7:30 PM, the resort shut down. I was told I could book spa treatments up until 9 PM, though. The early-to-bed schedule worked fine for most guests, many of whom were from the East Coast like me and/or tired from the day’s activities.
The resort was dark and silent, making for great stargazing if you could muster up the energy to go outside. (Uh, no, not me. I was snoozin’!)
Hike This Way
On my second day at the resort, I was excited to join a mother and her adult daughter on a full-day hike to Zion National Park, about an hour away by car. I’m not a big hiker, but the photographs I’d seen of Zion, a 229-mile area carved by water, had put the park on my bucket list.
Our guide was John, an older man originally from Nyack, New York, who has called this part of Utah home for close to 20 years. He was delightful, fun, knowledgeable, warm, kind and a good conversationalist. John customized the hike to our joint pace and skill level—and I know for sure that without him leading us through the park, it would have been a much-less memorable and enjoyable day. He even watched our backpacks while we collectively headed to the restroom!
That evening, my friend and I followed Jennifer, a yoga teacher, into Snow Canyon, where we climbed a red plateau (a pile of large, flat red rocks) to do yoga as the sun set . A soft, dry breeze kissed our bodies and faces while we flowed. And yes, it was just as magical and blissful as you can imagine. Namaste.
Which reminds me to say that the guides and instructors, along with the scenery, are what made Red Mountain Resort so special to me—helping guests to venture confidently into the unknown desert and return triumphant!
On my second morning, I headed out on my own to see Bryce Canyon. The resort does offer trips to Bryce, but I wasn’t there on a day when one was scheduled.
I climbed another 5,000 feet in my rental car on the two-and-a-half-hour car ride to Bryce. Boy was I surprised by how different the topography was from Zion. Bryce is a scruffy pine forest with spire-like rock structures called hoodoos (formed as cliffs erode) rather than desert.
Adventure & Rejuvenation at Red Mountain Resort
Back at Red Mountain Resort, I had a much-needed massage at the Sagestone Spa & Salon before dinner. One of my favorite parts of the spa experience was sipping on cardamom-berry flavored water while lounging in the Whisper Room—while gazing out at the incredible vista of Snow Canyon.
The next day, my friend and I headed home. We were filled with both an appreciation for the awe-inspiring beauty of the Utah mountains and canyons. We also left with a newfound sense of adventure and accomplishment. I don’t intend to hike regularly the way I did at Red Mountain Resort, but it’s great to know that when the occasion calls for it—I certainly can!
Note: Red Mountain Resort provided complimentary accommodations for the writer for two nights of her stay.
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