There’s no shortage of adventure travel gold in the hills within the Colorado swath of the Rocky Mountains. However, thanks to the vivid imagination of Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, Gateway Canyons—accessible by scenic roads, an hour from the nearest airport, or spectacular helicopter commute—stands as the mother lode of what the region has to offer discerning travelers looking to live the outdoor lifestyle to its fullest and most intellectually stimulating. And if you’re looking for the ultimate corporate retreat destination, Gateway literally opens up to myriad possibilities. This locale embodies the heart and soul of Americana.
Better still, by design, Gateway Canyons (overseen by luxury hotel and resort management company Noble House) is an expansive canvas in which you and the resort can handcraft a week full of-once-in-a-lifetime experiences directly from property including ATV and CTV excursions, baja truck racing, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and helicopter tours to name but a few. However, the real fun starts for the car enthusiast when they step in the elaborate car collection turned museum on property depicting the history of the American automobile. This coupled with the choices a traveler can make in selecting one of a few dozen drivable cars to take to the open road (including a Bentley Supersport, Porsche 911, and Ford GT) provides that truly unique experience on a property unlike any other.
The staff, half of whom live on property, are sourced both locally (Gateway has a population of approximately 65) and from around the world and are there to make you or your group’s stay as epic and intimate as they can manage. So familial in fact that the waitress serving you drinks the night before may actual be taking your breakfast order the next morning. Tenured and industry respected General Manager Rudy Sharp may even be seen happily unloading bags from the cars of the new arrivals.
Gateway Of Discovery
When Hendricks originally acquired lands around Gateway, he set out to create a personal retreat. As time went on, and he built a casitas for his visiting friends to stay, he shifted the focus to preserving its resources with the intention of sharing it with other like-minded individuals. By confining commercial and residential development to an area already impacted by humans, Gateway Canyons and its rustically elegant and divinely appointed 72 casitas make minimal impact on existing wildlife habitats and vegetation while giving visitors maximum exposure to the athletic, scientific, and culinary aspects of the property.
Restaurants on the property, especially Entrada and the Paradox Grill, make the spirit of discovery even more delicious and thoughtful, through extensive implementation of local produce, supporting local farmers and the local economy. The beverages, overseen by carefully hand-picked sommeliers, is focused on the state’s “best kept secret” wineries. Several buildings, including Kiva Lodge and the Palisade Event Center, employ geothermal heating and cooling as well as solar-water heating techniques. The pool, hot tub, and spa are warmed through solar water heating and non-chemical saline purification system water.
However, the ultimate allure of the resort rests in Hendricks’ long standing belief that it is human nature to be curious, and that knowledge of the past and of the earth’s unique bounty leads to innovation in the future. This philosophy, which has powered the Discovery Channel, now goes to the next level with a travel experience that reflects his own life’s purpose of seeking the answers to mankind’s most enduring questions about nature, science, and technology.
This year, he has upped that commitment several notches with his Curiosity Retreats – a first-of-its-kind blend of offerings and initiatives. The special five-night retreats (including one July 20-25, 2014, and others for 2014 and 2015 in the works) provides exclusive, intimate access to eminent visionaries, scholars, and
trendsetters who will discuss topics ranging from the mysteries of the vast universe to the future of technology. Portions of the talks will be filmed and posted online in order to craft a proprietary social Q&A platform accessible worldwide.
As mentioned earlier, the ruggedly handsome resort is merely a base camp for all kinds of “experience of a lifetime” adventures. Auto enthusiasts can get their motors running at the Gateway Canyons Auto Museum, whose jewel in the crown is a one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car (which Hendricks purchased in 2005, after intense auction bidding, for $3.25 million). The space also encompasses gems of American automotive art and signage devoted to understanding and celebrating the history, design, and social impact of the American automobile’s first century, from a 1906 Cadillac Model H Coupe to rare specimens of Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Cunningham, Packard, Cadillac, Pierce Arrow, and others.
In translating the history presented in the museum to living for the moment today, the resort also features a truck driving school and Find Some Fresh Air Driven Experiences’ customized Pro-Baja Trucks, which unite aggressive styling with advanced off-road technology to deliver an exhilarating driving experience that’s anything but a light Sunday drive.
From there, you can soar to astounding heights with Gateway Canyons Air Tours, whose Eurocopter AStar B3’s crafts and expert, military-trained pilots not only provide spectacular panoramic scenery of western Colorado and eastern Utah, but their fascinating lore and legends. Here, in the grand tradition of the Discovery Channel, you will journey via those rock formations through the evolution of time from the dawn of history forward. The interior comforts, meanwhile, are just as stunning, from leather seats to state-of-the art, noise-cancelling Bose headsets for ease of conversation in the cabin and with the pilot.
Rounding out the perfect stay, guests also have the opportunity to lavish in exquisite treatments at the resort’s world-class spa and see live concert performances with nationally prominent acts (Chris Isaak performs Aug. 2) and fascinating lectures at its Mission Bell Amphitheater.
While many people refer to Colorado’s pristine reaches as “God’s Country,” Hendricks has dared to make it that much more of a paradise.
Curiosity Retreats’ exclusive experience will be limited to 70 participants per session. For more information or reservations for a retreat, contact the concierge team at 888/289.8670 or visit curiosityretreats.com.
Hotel Direct 970/931.2458
John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of Discovery Communications and Owner of Gateway Canyons Resort discusses his most memorable adventure and his interest in helping people explore the world
CSQ The Discovery Channel is full of travel-oriented programming to obscure destinations known for their beauty and wildlife. How does Gateway Canyons Resort put its guests into the heart of the channel’s spirit of adventure?
JOHN HENDRICKS For me, the motivations for creating the Discovery Channel and Gateway Canyons Resort are the same––to help people explore the world. The Discovery Channel transports viewers to places that they can vicariously visit through television. At Gateway Canyons, our visitors touch the world. It is a place where the earth opens up to tell its story through the geology of the magnificent canyon walls, through giant dinosaur footprints, and through the ancient rock art of the Anasazi. Instead of watching people explore, as we do when we watch a documentary on television, our resort guests undertake adventures of their own on horseback, in a helicopter, on river rafts, in exotic cars on spectacular canyon drives, in off-road Pro Baja trucks, and on inspiring hiking trails.
CSQ What were aspects of your own experience as a traveler and science enthusiast that shaped the resort’s concept?
JH I relish travel adventures that are authentic and bring me closer to the wonders of the natural world or the great works of humankind. Trips to the amazing natural landscapes of Africa and New Zealand have inspired me as well as traveling on journeys such as to the top of Mauna Kea Volcano in Hawaii to tour the Keck Telescope. These and other travels were instrumental to me in creating a resort that celebrates both the natural world and the great engineering feats of mankind. At Gateway Canyons Resort we offer programs that nourish our guests’ interest in topics like earth science, Native American history, aviation, automobile design and engineering, and the marvels of the night sky on “astronomy nights.”
CSQ What does the resort offer specifically for travelers who have not done much adventure travel but are interested in getting deeper into the experience?
JH The most experienced adventure seekers can enjoy challenging rock climbs and mountain biking. Others, like me, who enjoy active, but less extreme adventures can experience amazing nature hikes or guided walks, ride-alongs in desert racing trucks, fly-away fishing adventures via helicopter, guided horseback rides, or kayaking on the scenic Dolores River, which flows through the resort property.
CSQ What is your favorite feature of Gateway Canyons and this region?
JH One of the most distinguishing features of our resort is our high-performance Eurocopter AS350-B3 that is hangared right at the resort, allowing guests to take customized aerial tours to witness the world’s most magnificent canyon, mountain, and desert vistas.
CSQ What is the most memorable adventure you’ve ever had?
JH Spending 10 days with one of the world’s last hunter-gatherer tribes in a remote corner of Tanzania. The Hadza people taught me much about our ancient relationship with the natural world and with each other. It was unforgettable.