Boulder Mountain Lodge: Doubles, $85-$109 per night 800-556-3446, www.boulder-utah.com
BOULDER MOUNTAIN LODGE
If public lands were appraised like prime real estate, you wouldn't find a swankier address than Boulder Mountain Lodge's. It neighbors the vast 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument, and Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion national parks are practically down the street, with Glen Canyon and Lake Powell as nearby attractions. You won't encounter an adventure base camp that better hews to the rule of location, location, location.
Room & Board: Frolic in the ocher-and-ecru desert like a Monkey Wrench Gangster by day and retire to sweet comforts like sleigh beds topped with hefty down comforters in the 20 guest rooms by night. The lodge's three wood-and-stucco metal-roofed buildings adjoin a bird sanctuary in a grassy oasis along Utah 12, the most remote thoroughfare in the continental United States. (The town of Boulder, population 180, was still receiving mail by mule train in 1941, the last spot in America to do so.) Mealtimes are savored at the lodge's Zagat-endorsed Hell's Backbone Grill, with clever offerings like Southwestern-French chocolate-chile cream pots for dessert.
Out the Back Door: Hike to Calf Creek Falls, a 126-foot waterfall that blasts into a perfect swimming hole (the trailhead for the five-mile round-trip is a 20-minute drive from the lodge). The cliff-hugging trail follows a clear stream full of brook trout and passes Fremont Indian pictographs wallpapered onto red sandstone. Road riders, however, will prefer the vigorous climb up the eastern shoulder of 11,124-foot Boulder Mountain or the 31-mile paved portion of the Burr Trail, a rolling, mind-bending route leading south from the lodge's doorstep to Capitol Reef National Park.