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Gateway to Awe

Most visitors approach Gateway by heading south from Grand Junction onto U.S. Route 50 toward Ouray. Be it summer or winter, the Switzerland of America can draw a crowd. But just beyond GJ’s city limits, there’s a relatively secret turn onto SR 141, which also leads to the postcard-perfect Gateway Canyons Resort. This adventure resort on the Dolores River offers outdoor fun and luxe downtime, but with a twist: It’s a also a hotspot of auto culture.

Getting to Gateway is one of the best parts of your adventure. Not long after leaving Highway 50 and crossing the Gunnison River, the road winds into Unaweep Canyon. For even more spectacular views, go in fall, when all the colors pop against the red sandston walls towering around you.

Photo By Peter Taylor / Gateway Canyons Resort


Located smack on the Dolores River in the midst of redrock canyons, Gateway is a hub for outdoor fun. The Adventure Center offers guided hikes, mountain biking, off-road UTV touring, sport shooting, horseback riding and even helicopter tours. One of the highlights is the 3.5-mile roundtrip Juanita Arch hike, a trip that includes a canoe paddle across the Dolores River to reach isolated Maverick Canyon and its 100-foot-wide span high in the Wingate Sandstone. Or head out on an intermediate rock climbing excursion, with gear included.

If you’re a car buff, you’re in for a treat. Gateway’s founder John Hendricks (who it turns out is also the founder of the Discovery Channel), clearly loved cars. The driving center here that offers guests everything from Jeep Wranglers and other 4WDs for off-road explorations to Porsche 911s for smooth-driving fun on the pavement. The wide stable of automobiles even includes a Tesla Roadster, which is available for any visitors to Gateway, as well as beauties like the Ford GT, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Bentley SuperSport and Viper SRT, if you join the resort’s auto club.

Photo By Peter Taylor / Gateway Canyons Resort

A History of Cars

Hendricks also started a car museum on site that features nearly 60 classic cars spanning 100 years of American automotive history. One of the oldest in the collection is the 1906 Cadillac Model H Coupe and one of the rarest is the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car, which Hendricks purchased in 2005 at auction. The winning bid? $3.25 million. Also on site: NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson’s champion Chevrolet SS, as well as classics from long-gone manufacturers including Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord and Cunningham along with rare models from Packard, Cadillac, and Pierce Arrow.


Gateway features some plush accommodations, including 58 luxury suites and 14 private casitas. Some of those rooms, like the premium, 650-square-foot King Suite in Kayenta Lodge, are bigger than tiny houses. The decor matches the location, with Native American artwork, rustic ranch elements, and comfortable furniture. The sofa in the main room folds out to a sleeper bed and there’s an internal pass through fireplace to serve both rooms of the suite. Other accommodations include the Kiva Lodge, built around the pool and
clubhouse courtyard. Rates run a wide range, so it’s best to check booking options often. In general, a package that includes a premium  two-queen-bed room in the Kiva Lodge with $200 per day adventure credits runs $679 in June. The same package in one of the 1,650-square-foot Stargazer Casitas, named for the terrace with a telescope, costs $1,729 per night.

Photo By Peter Taylor / Gateway Canyons Resort

Relaxation and Dining

Tired after a day of canyon hiking and speed racing? Hit the resort’s luxury spa, where you can induge in a full range of treatments runing the gamut from standard deep tissue massages to a body ritual that includes a stimulating prickly pear catus gel wrap.

Rather eat your food than wear it? The resort hosts five restaurants: Duesey’s Diner serves up comfort food from a vintage trailer. The Cantina and Kiva Grill both dish out southwestern fare (think maragaritas!). Head to Paradox Grill for a Colorado burger. And Entrada plates upscale cusisine with outdoor dining so you can watch the sun set and the stars rise. Sure, it may be pricey, but if you plan to go big, you won’t regret spending that paycheck here. Learn more and book at

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