435-260-1783 >> www.camelotlodge.com
$95 per person per night, including three meals. A two-hour camel trek costs $70 per person. If you have a four-wheel drive, you can drive between Moab and the lodge. Or Terry can give you a ride ($40, round-trip).
YOU'RE ONLY SIX MILES from Moab as the crow flies, but traveling to Camelot from town on a 12.5-mile dirt road through a mad jumble of slot canyons, mesas, and buttes is excruciatingly slow and difficult, making you feel like a character out of a Paul Bowles novel. This suits owners Terry and Marcee Moore just fine. Formerly managers of a lodge in Alaska, they wanted a Lower 48 spot that replicated Alaska's feeling of utter remoteness, except with warmer weather. Bare but for sunlight, shadows, and Anazasi petroglyphs, the sculpted stone surrounding the lodge inspires guests with a variety of visions: "It's a vulture pulling a covered wagon." "No, it's three hillbillies in a bathtub."
AT THE LODGE The solar-powered, 3,000-square-foot lodge, which opened in 1999, sits on 49 private acres just 200 yards from the Colorado River. The post-and-beam, pitch-roofed building has five guest rooms, each with a private bathroom, shower, and entrance from the deck. The views are modest, but there's a reason: The small windows are meant to minimize solar exposure in the blistering summer. One big space encompasses the living and dining rooms, with welcoming couches and recliners. Through an archway, Marcee rules the kitchen, serving up salt-crusted prime rib and pasta with homemade pesto. For the morning frittatas, she collects fresh eggs.
THE SPORTS Leave the river's thin ribbon of willows, grass, and tamarisk, and hike formiles in any direction up washes, over sandstone shelves, and down slot canyons. Or survey the desert like a sheik from a camel's back. Terry, a former Hollywood trainer, has tamed five dromedaries for guests to ride. If you'D rather carry your own weight, mountain bike the Amasa Back Loop, 23 miles of road and singletrack starting from the lodge. Bring your own bike or rent one in Moab. The lodge can also arrange single- or multiday raft trips on Class III-IV+ sections of the Colorado.
BACKCOUNTRY FORAY Step off the porch, shoulder a backpack, and head for Dripping Springs Canyon, about four miles from the lodge. Set up a base camp in this parabolic canyon and explore the caves that radiate into Catacomb Rock, hike the myriad unnamed drainages, and taste fresh water from a spring on the canyon's eastern slope. The lodge also arranges three-day camel treks out to Chicken Corners, a skinny, vertigo-inducing ledge nine miles south of the lodge along a trail leading up to the mesa.