6 Must-Do Experiences In Western Colorado

Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado doesn't top many travel lists. Red rocks that could be up to 50 million years old surround you; cacti are scattered among the dirt and dust; the sun beats down, unrelentingly. It isn't immediately apparent why you would to travel here. Adventure junkies, however, have plenty of reasons to venture to Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa in Gateway, Colorado, an area designed to take the natural landscape provided in abundance and transform it into a playground.

Take a UTV Tour

UTVs differ from ATVs in that they have side-by-side seating arrangements, a harness seatbelt and a roll cage, so they're a little bit safer on uneven terrain. The scenery seems like the set of some television show that takes place on another planet. The dirt road sometimes has sharp drop-offs on the side. It's exhilarating — even a little scary at times — and then you're at the top of a mesa, looking down on the Gateway Canyons Resort property. The view is breathtaking.

Spend Time With Zebulon Miracle, Curator of Curiosities

What's a Curator of Curiosities? Only one of the most amazing members of staff I've ever encountered! Zebulon is a gem in and of himself, offering an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the area, the people who lived there, the changing landscape, and where exactly to find dinosaur prints on the side of the road. He bought us down Route 141 and pointed out proto-mammal prints and the dinosaurs who ate them less than 40 feet from the edge of the road. He then took us in a little further to share an exciting discovery on a rock barely emerging from the sand. Dinosaurs are everywhere!

Play Cowboy/Cowgirl at Palisade Ranch

Palisade Ranch is huge, with over 500 acres of land with a web of trails that provide a climb of up to 1500 feet in elevation. Packages include rides for cowgirls and cowboys of all abilities. (Thank goodness, because my ability level was pretty low.) Trail rides, as well as half-day and full-day adventures, await you in this landscape of scrub oak and succulents at Indian Painted Brush and Larkspur. Meander up into the hillside and maneuver through a couple of small water crossings to find true oaks, tall and shady, for a break from the ever-present sun.

Book a Ride-Along or Afternoon of Instruction at Driven Pro-Baja

Driven Pro-Baja is an adrenaline rush like nothing you've ever felt before. Ride-along in a Pro-Baja Trophy Truck on their two-mile training course, or go all-out with an afternoon of coaching. Their team offers a fleet of safe, well-maintained trucks with more-than-qualified instructors who know what they know because they race these trucks as well.

Borrow Luxury for a Little While

I find myself signing papers for a green Bentley Continental GTC and, for a short while, I have the privilege of taking that beauty for a spin to Hanging Flume. Others surround me in a red Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe, silver Mercedes Benz SL 550, and two other Bentleys in blue and silver, just a small sampling of the fleet Driven Experiences keeps on resort for the guests' pleasure. My Bentley glides and I soon settle in, enjoying every minute of the drive through scenic rock and brush with sunshine beating down on me, warming my skin and plastering a smile to my face. This is a top 10 moment in my life. It's a must for any stay at Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa.

View the Largest Personal Car Collection in the Country

The Driven Experiences vehicles aren't the only exotic cars on site. In fact, the Gateway Auto Museum was one of the original elements of the resort. Guests are admitted, free of charge, to peruse nearly 60 of the most prized historic cars in the country. Non-resort guests are able to access the collection for a nominal fee of $15. Inside is living history — a time capsule devoted to every era of automobiles since their invention. And in a special room of its owns spins a golden glimpse of the past: a 1954 Oldsmobile F-88, the only one of her kind left. She glimmers and shines on her pedestal, demanding you stop and appreciate her.