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Disco the red rocks.

They have manufactured lawns and automatic sprinklers. They have fancy table fare and casita butlers who simply insist on carrying your bags. Gateway Canyons is a spare-no-expense luxury resort, but at ground level, it looks pretty tame.

But then you look up. The walls of the Unaweep Canyon cut the blue out of the sky in all directions, replacing it with red.

The unique rock walls of Western Colorado show off their crimson colors; those created by ancient rivers that swept through and eroded the sandstone, exposing 100 million years of geologic record. The Fremont, Anasazi, and Ute Native American tribes once called this place home, before the first pioneers showed up to settle the land near Gateway, Colorado, in 1884. The history is rich here, with dinosaur fossils and ancient petroglyphs offered as the main attractions.

No matter how much money Gateway Canyons visionary (and founder and former chairman of Discovery Channel) John Hendricks sinks into the resort, the rocks surrounding this place will remain the real draw.

You have to give Hendricks and his five-star staff credit, though; they've taken a rugged wilderness and created the ultimate Western getaway. A place that hardcore outdo orsmen can conquer, while families enjoy the more civilized amenities.

Want some adventure? Seek out the driven experience. Rent a Jeep from Gateway's stable of luxury rides and tackle switchbacks heading across the Utah border into the La Sal Mountains. Keep your eye out for mountain lions, black bear, big elk, and mule deer.

Take the customized, dirt-destroying Pro-Baja trucks for a spin around the off-road course. Warning: You'll be at least eight feet in the air, more than once.

Join instructor Leah Campbell for their signature "Evolution of the Weapon."

Start with throwing knives and tomahawks, move to a blackpowder Hawken and Navy 1851 pistol, then a Sharps .45-70, and finally ... a fully functioning Gatling gun. For a place that prides itself on unique experiences, rolling the crank on an 1865 battery gun in the shadows of the canyon ranks among the most memorable.

Want to throw hunting into the mix? Well, that's in the works as we speak. Our next report on Gateway will include details on how you can end this adventure with elk backstraps.

Until then, let the butler carry your bags, stay off the lawn, and leave enough time to tackle all that this destination and its stunning red rocks can dish out.

--Ben O'Brien GATEWAYCANYONS.COM

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Author:O'Brien, Ben
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Date:Dec 1, 2014
Words:408
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