MY TWO KIDS STAND at the door, cheeks smudged with red-rock dust, animatedly asking my permission to help out in the horse barn at Red Cliffs Lodge, a 258-acre former cattle ranch about 16 miles north-east of Moab. What mother could say no to a ponytailed nine-year-old and her gap-toothed 11-year-old brother? I nod yes, and off they sprint. I suspect I won't see them for hoursthey'll splash in the pool, grab mountain bikes from the lodge's fleet, and thwack balls on the tennis courts. Only the thought of the lodge's addictive chocolate chip cookies will lure them back.
Red Cliffs Lodge
Doubles cost 9 per night (9 for a family of four), continental breakfast included.
Red Cliffs, which opened in May 2002, sits on a bend of the Colorado River, surrounded by 1,500-foot ocher-hued sandstone cliffs. The main building is cavernous, with an enormous roof supported inside and out by ponderosa pine logs too big to put your arms around. (We tried.) Four single-story buildings face the river; each of the 40 guest rooms has a terrace and a large eastern window with a river view.
After scheduling a horseback trail ride for a view of Castle Valley's Castle Rock and booking a river trip for some mellow Class II rapids down the Colorado, I grab a magazine and settle into a deck chair. Suddenly, there's whooping, and I look up to see two colts trotting ahead of two dust balls: my Sam and Hannah. Then I hear the pattering of sneakers. "Hey, Mom, got any of those cookies?"