Spa Life Rocks at Red Mountain Resort, Utah

Red rock hiking Utah

Morning hikes take in the beauty of Snow Canyon State Park

Sipping a Prickly Pear Champagne Cocktail on the patio as the setting sun changes the colors of the surrounding mountains, I wonder why I ever declared myself “NOT a spa person.”

Oh yeah…it was the thought of self-consciously traipsing through luxurious surroundings in a resort-issued robe and slippers to be purged of unhealthy habits through boring exercise classes and tofu meals.

Now, halfway through my four-day stay at Red Mountain Resort in southwest Utah I realize I can handle time spent in beautiful surroundings where my only duty is to “relax, renew and rediscover” my “passion for adventure.”

In Your Bucket Because…

  • There are hikes and fitness classes for levels from beginner to expert.
  • It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo of this scenery.
  • You like a relaxed, down-to-earth vibe.
  • Good for: Couples, girlfriend getaways.

Ready, Set, Hike

Red Mountain is a 55-acre retreat near St. George, a city of about 73,000 bordering Arizona. Resort structures are earth-toned, low-rise, and adobe-style so they don’t compete with the mountains that rim the property. The 82 guestrooms and 24 one- and two-bedroom Villa suites are well-appointed and comfortable, but there’s nothing pretentious about the place.

Red rock hikes Utah

Guided hikes are geared to three levels of experience

It is Red Mountain’s guided morning hikes that convince me to break my no-spa rule. Although I’m hardly an experienced hiker I want to trek across the sandstone landscape and see the landforms sculpted by centuries of wind and water.

I buy a pair of sturdy boots several weeks before my trip and break them in on daily walks around my flat-as-a-pancake neighborhood park.

My less-than intense training proves adequate; three levels of Red Mountain hikes accommodate beginners, intermediate and experienced trekkers. Every day before dawn I join the novices and we set off with two guides for a two-to-four mile hike at Snow Canyon State Park. Mornings are cool but daytime temperatures often reach the 100s so excursions wrap up early to beat the heat of the day.

As the sun rises the light bounces off the cliffs, domes and volcanic deposits and plays with the crevices, rocks and plant life. The palette of reds, browns, blacks, pinks, yellows, greens and greys is stunning against the clear blue sky. Our guides point out varieties of sage, moonflowers and horsenettle, and warn us to avoid the jumping cholla, a cactus whose sharp needles easily detach when brushed against. Movie buffs have an aha! moment when told that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and other westerns were filmed at the 7,400-acre park.

Busy Relaxing

We return to the resort by 10 a.m. and dive into the day’s activities. I skip the rock climbing, horseback riding, kayaking, rappelling and day trips to Zion National Park available at additional fees. I take advantage of as many of the complimentary programs as possible, and disavow my “NOT a spa person” identity by adding treatments at the Sagestone Spa & Salon. I pack the schedule with:

Time for meditation on the red rocks (photo by Kath Usitalo)

Meditation on the rocks

  • Mani-Pedi, brow wax and facial
  • Adobe Lavender Wrap, a mud cleanse using local dirt
  • Four Directions Body Treatment inspired by the Native American Medicine Wheel that involves a cornmeal and tobacco scrub, an herbal wrap and sage tea
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga—active and gentle
  • Tai Chi, to “find the perfect balance of strength and grace, as in life,” says instructor Carolyn
  • Drumming fitness balls with drumsticks in an aerobic dance routine
  • A spirit walk with a focus on meditation
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Meditation and Iridology sessions with Ian Phillip White. He walks me through techniques for being relaxed, focused and mindful, and stares into my eyes to interpret my inner health and weaknesses. I relax and mindfully focus on his British accent, and retain none of his insights.

I also manage to spend time by the outdoor pool and in one of the many hammocks that dot the gardens. All this and mealtime, too.

Beyond the Celery Stick

Red Mountain Resort has a low-key and relaxed vibe

The resort has a natural, low-key vibe

With an “Eat Well, Feel Well” philosophy Chef Chad Luethje turns healthful grains, fruit, vegetables, seafood, chicken and meat into tasty and artfully presented entrees, breads and desserts at the Canyon Breeze Restaurant. Breakfast and lunch are buffets; dinners are served inside the dining room or on the patio. The beer and wine list is a pleasant—and popular—option.

I strike up an easy conversation with another solo woman at the next table. An anniversary couple, straight from the spa in matching robes and slippers, is seated nearby. They’re so relaxed they’re fairly glowing. They order a celebratory drink.

My dessert arrives. I realize I’m looking forward to the next morning’s hike and my first Tai Chi session.

I may be a spa person after all.


  • Red Mountain Resort retreat packages include lodging, three meals, free Wi-Fi, fitness classes, morning guided hikes and other activities. Special excursions, Villa accommodations, spa and salon treatments, beer, wine and tips are additional.
  • If you’re a novice hiker, not certain of your endurance level or haven’t trekked over rocky terrain start with the Explorer (beginner) hike; you can always pick up the pace by joining the more advanced group for the following morning’s excursion.
  • Bring a lightweight pack that holds one or two water bottles and wear light colored clothing. Although the weather was cool when we set out each morning, by the end of our hike on the day I wore black I was ready to pass out from the heat of the sun.
  • St. George Airport is a 30 minute drive from the resort; complimentary shuttle is available when making reservations for your stay. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is a two-hour drive.
Shadows on a red rock hike, Utah

The rising sun casts shadows of hikers on the red rocks

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