Nestled comfortably between the rambling Colorado River and the stark, rusty sandstone cliffs of a towering mesa, Sorrel River Ranch Resort is nothing if not idyllic. Rolling northeast from Moab up highway 128, one gets the feeling that Castle Valley is as distant from the bustling urban centers of America as anywhere on earth, though depending on your point of departure you might be less than a half-days travel from home. If you’re lucky enough to have private air-travel at your disposal, you can fly right into Moab. Apart from the sound of the river, there isn’t much to distract you here from the visual landscape. Its stark colors, softened by the intermittent scrub brush, might be enough to bring on a case of Stendhal syndrome if you’ve never spent any time in the desert before. As you round the last bend and the ranch land comes into view, those who are inclined to the sort of thing might begin searching the mesas for the silhouette of The Duke as Sheriff John T. Chance, watching the valley below from high in his saddle.
Ranch vacations used to be a staple of American family travel before the era of mega-amusement parks, all-inclusive pleasure cruises, and the ever- popular quick jaunt to the Caribbean by air. With the western frontier somewhere beneath the waves of the pacific, many Americans began to long for the taste of the old west and for the lifestyle enjoyed by those cultural icons, the cowboys of the open range.
Guest Ranches, as these vacation spots were colloquially known, offered their visitors the western experience – riding, shooting, exploring the vast desert, and eating outdoors under the vast open skies of the American west. They were the precursors of our modern day adventure-travel vacations. It was a way for the urban masses to get a taste of life as it was lived by those who had, generations earlier eschewed the security of the rapidly developing cities and towns of the east to ride the open range, driving vast herds of grazing cattle hundreds of miles across the region.
Dude Ranches, with their days full of hard riding and hunting, and their saddle-sore nights in rough and rustic accommodations, went the way of the open range itself, and by the early nineties those that still operated did so on the margins of travel destinations, alongside historical restoration villages and world’s largest ball of string. Travelers began to demand more from their western destinations. They wanted a mix of the old and the new, the riding and exploration of the old west alongside the hot stone massages and the four-star hostelry. It is this unique combination of experiences, of heritage and comfort, that Sorrel River Ranch provides.
Deep, luxurious beds wait patiently for tired visitors under charming log-beam ceilings. Every room at Sorrel is a perfect marriage of rustic western tradition and comfort. The ranch itself is located between two of the west’s most stunning National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands, and these American treasures offer thousands of acres of wild, open space filled with deep canyons, rugged mountains, delicate sandstone arches, and dizzying pinnacles. The mighty Colorado River is right outside your door at Sorrel, and rafting trips set out almost every day to ride the rapids or just leisurely navigate the calmer waters. Whether you prefer to travel on foot or on horseback, the open desert is at your fingertips to explore – you can schedule a guided hike or saddle up and ride the Canyonlands in classic cowboy style. Should the urge overtake you, you can even skydive right onto the property, unhook your parachute, and stroll over to the pool for a quick dip.
These classic western activities can take a toll on the body, so it’s lucky that Sorrel also offers a full- service spa and fitness center. Even if a high-speed ATV trip over the red rocks of the desert is more your speed than a deep tissue massage, you can certainly appreciate how helpful the latter is after a long day of the former. Aromatherapy, alternative medicine treatments, and classic Swedish massage are just a handful of the many amenities offered by the spa. The fitness center, not to be outdone, offers everything from yoga to weight-training equipment– perfect for preparing for your next rock-climbing sojourn or white-water kayaking adventure. Whether it’s rest and recovery or serious training, Sorrel River Ranch has the facilities you want on hand.
All these amenities are of course available whether or not your time at the ranch is for business rather than pleasure. Any of these activities could serve as fantastic team building exercises should you choose to host your board retreat or other corporate affairs at the ranch. Their conference center is fully equipped with all the technology and equipment you could possibly need to have a productive, enjoyable experience. The serene environs and natural isolation of the ranch provide the ideal surroundings for a focused and fruitful work environment.
Finally, we come to the issue of food. Vacation ranches were well known for their ring the dinner bell, pull up a stump, and eat a heaping helping of chili dinners. Fresh caught game mixed with pastured beef, and the chuck wagon maestro served up cowboy classics like skillet corn bread and baked beans. At the Sorrel River Ranch River Grill Restaurant, the local flavors still linger, though the landscape they inhabit is miles from the campfire. Sorrel River Ranch Resort has a conscious dining philosophy including the Green House and Garden, and a fresh pressed juicing initiative. Traditional western cuisine – river caught fish, grass-fed meats, garden fresh produce grown right at the ranch – are all elevated by the ranch’s Farm to Table Culinary Team into fine dining at its best. With a wine list to match, the River Grill is the perfect blend of the old and the new, combining classic American recipes with a farm to table ethos. If more casual fare is what you’re after, the breathtaking river deck offers filling lunches and intriguing small plates in the evening, to be savored beside the mighty Colorado. And just for good measure, the ranch will also happily prepare you a boxed lunch or dinner should your western adventure find you far from the Ranch at mealtime.
Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa caters to the adventurous spirit in all of us. It is luxurious, an oasis and a retreat. It is perfect for a family vacation, a corporate team building experience or an intimate getaway. It is also easily accessible by private aircraft and helicopter into Moab Airport or Regional Service into Grand Junction which is only 1.5 hours away.