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Adventure Meets High Design

Amangiri resort

Photographs from Amangiri

Amangiri resort

Land and sky. Broad expanses of canyons, mesas and hoodoos laced with rust-colored sandstone, mountains rising in the distance, sagebrush and juniper sprinkled among the dunes. Rising above it, a blue eternity. In the U.S. Southwest, I found you can breathe deeper, feel smaller and find yourself uniquely centered and untethered.

My husband and I were just over the border of Arizona in southern Utah, with our bags sitting in our mesa-view suite at the exclusive (and stunning) Amangiri resort— a place so integrated with its surroundings that it seems to almost disappear. Almost. You may have seen it as the backdrop for a fashion shoot: the desert splayed out behind the modern, nature-hued concrete walls, an enormous boulder as the centerpiece of a freeform swimming pool.

We were standing on top of a steep sandstone tower, having climbed to the summit with the aid of a via ferrata rung-cable-and-carabiner system. We gazed fearfully at an 18-inch-wide suspension bridge traversing a 600-foot-deep canyon. My husband was afraid of heights . . . and maybe I was, too? But then, with little ado, he and our guide clamped their carabiners into the cables and started to walk the 230 feet. I reluctantly followed, then pumped my fist and let out a whoop when I reached the other side of the bridge. Adrenaline is a powerful drug.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument stretched out before us, and we could just make out Lake Powell (with its 2,000 miles of shoreline) in the distance. It was an experience that was rivaled the next day when we reached Arizona’s Upper Antelope slot canyon: Our Navajo guide led us through the narrow (and crowded, even early in the day) crevice, carved by wind and water over thousands of years. The golden, rosy interplay of light and red sandstone has made this canyon famous among photographers—though it’s (obviously) even better in real life. We continued on to two private Navajo canyons, including one—Owl Canyon—that is home to a pair of nesting great horned owls.

Amangiri had lined up our activities, and it really was a wonderful place to come back to, with just 34 suites, a peaceful spa, simple but delicious cuisine and views ranging in every direction. This is a very pricey place to stay, but it’s a truly unique experience.

Getting there is part of the adventure. One of the closest airports is St. George, Utah. After that, you can pick Las Vegas or Phoenix. We chose Phoenix and mostly relished the drive to Amangiri—about five hours through diverse terrain, with a stop in Sedona and a stay at the pampering Four Seasons Scottsdale on our way back.

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