I’ve visited Moab lots. I’ve climbed off Pot Ash Road, rafted the Daily Run, biked on Slick Rock and Poison Spider and camped with my family alongside the Colorado River. But, I’ve never experienced Moab like I did last weekend at the Sorrel River Ranch.

Located about 20 miles northeast of Moab along the Colorado River, The Sorrel River Ranch combines real adventure with genuine luxury – two elements I hadn’t formerly thought of as symbiotic – especially in the desert with kids.

In my world, a desert weekend includes a mountain bike ride followed by a Pabst Blue Ribbon  (slightly warm from sitting in the melted ice at the bottom of the cooler); a rinse in the river; and a plate of pasta (more often than not strained through the mesh of my baseball cap).

As it turns out, in the Sorrel world, things are done a little differently. The folks behind the place have mastered something I came to call “understated luxury”.

At the Sorrel River Ranch, my husband and I still got our bike rides in, and our kids got to explore the desert. But this time, at the end of our adventures, we relaxed on the oversized porch swing outside our private cabin, cooled down in the outdoor pool overlooking the Colorado River, then ate an eight-course meal – each course thoughtfully paired with a carefully selected glass of wine and made from ingredients hand-picked from one of the two gardens on the Ranch’s property.

And it was during this meal that we recognized the brilliance of the Ranch. We sat in the Homestead Garden enjoying the culinary genius of third-generation chef Richard Potts under a perfect, desert moon. A long, wooden table hosted thirty strangers who leisurely exchanged stories, sipped wine and shared their days’ adventures as one exquisite course came out after another – Sorrel River Farm Ratatouille with St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc; Toasted Fennel Pollen, Tasmanian King Salmon, Kurobuta Bacon and Palisade Peach Preserve with Elk Cove, Pinot Noir; and Baby Pumpkin Bisque, Muscovy Duck, Candied Seeds, and Aged Utah Cheddar with Duckhorn Merlot.

On one side of us sat the Garden Manager, Jason Matz, who told us about the farm and the dream of working directly with an executive chef like Potts. A retired English journalist sat on the other, divulging the plot of a novel she was working on. And all the while, Keith Battaglia, the Ranch’s Director of Sales & Marketing, excitedly hopped from guest to guest gushing about the Ranch like a proud parent.

With the far backdrop of desert buttes and  the ranch’s horses grazing behind him, he explained this was the first of the Farm to Table dinners. He told us about star gazing events and talk of developing a helicopter menu for those guests who want to base out of Moab but also explore more of Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

He then casually asked if I had tried the Goat’s Head Martini (named after little prickly buds that seem to find every bare foot in the desert), asked what type of massage I’d be getting the next day at the Ranch’s spa and passed me a blanket for my daughter. (Not missing a detail, Battaglia had arranged for two glasses of sparkling cider to be amidst the platter of champagne for our girls at the dinner’s welcoming).

As I listened to Matz, the mellow farmer, and Battaglia, the excited salesman, I saw oddly how well they complimented each other and it struck me that there were many other  contradicting factors working symbiotically at the Ranch. Most evident was the  delicate combination of the  property’s simple roots with the promise of the vast  possibilities inherent to the West.

The Ranch’s tie to its history was best illustrated by the graceful presence of the original, homestead cabins in the garden and from which  Potts and his staff busily prepared  the very dinner we were eating.  In 1903, Fred and Ida Stearns, the homesteaders, used a horse and plow and Colorado River water to farm the land and provide all of the food they needed for their family. Currently the ranch provides 60% of the food for its guests from their gardens and greenhouse, showcasing their efforts in signature Farm to Table wine dinners. The cabins seemed to anchor today’s Ranch to the surrounding land and adjacent river —  the spirit of the newer ranch to the old.

It also seemed that it was a combination of  this strong connection to the land, and the Ranch’s understated elegance  that allowed visitors to focus on why they’d come –to not only experience luxurious accommodations and desert adventure, but to also experience desert solitude manifested in the surrounding red-rock walls; delicately, carved, rock towers; and serene flow of the Colorado River.

Then there is the Ranch’s endearing spirit of Western possibility –- luxury in the desert, Goat Head Martinis, paddle-boarding down the Colorado River, a private hiking trail, guided tours to Arches National Park, a garden, and children welcome at a wine dinner. Amongst this rugged and inspiring landscape, the ranch’s detailed amenities emphasized that this is after all, a vacation.

Now when I talk about my favorite experiences in Moab, the Sorrel River Ranch is right there with the Daily, Poison Spider and Slick Rock.

As it turns out, in the world of Sorrel River Ranch, adventure and luxury are symbiotic—even in the desert and even with kids.

For more information about Sorrel River Ranch go to http://www.sorrelriver.com.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.