I love deserts and fall is a fantastic season for hiking out west. If you really want to treat yourself, now is great time to go to a hiking spa in the canyons of Southern Utah, one of my favorite spots on earth. The days are sunny and crisp (not cold), the smell of sage permeates the air and everywhere you look is over-the-top majestic. Really. Go there and you understand why so many religious types have settled in the region. It looks and feels like God’s Country (cue the angels, please…)
Turns out, two great spas that immerse you in this glorious landscape are only a few miles apart: The Green Valley Spa in St. George and Red Mountain Spa in nearby Ivens. They are both sited next to huge tracks of federal land and are easy driving distance to Zion National Park (not to be missed.) Their guides are top-notch and you’ll easily spend hours on the sandstone and red rock trails out their back doors, burning calories as you gawk at how gorgeous and vast the US of A is.
I’ve stayed at Green Valley twice and loved it. It is a bit more cushy and fancy (and yes, expensive) than Red Mountain but it is not as hardcore athletic. It breaks down like this: mountain biking/rock climbing/ longer hikes = Red Mountain. Prettier spa food/lux treatments/slower pace = Green Valley. If I am to go to Southern Utah again – and I hope I do – Red Mountain here I come. That said, ahhhh, the daily relaxing baths at Green Valley after a long morning on the trails are worth traveling for.
One cool thing about going to spas is you are thrown into a group of like-minded strangers and it usually takes me just a day or two to develop a spa buddy. It just happens. You find someone who is your hiking pace with good energy and a happy attitude and that’s it, you’re in, and mile after mile you find yourself sharing life stories and bonding. Charles Barkley was my Ashram buddy, and at Green Valley my pal was a lovely woman who told me about her ideas for starting a beauty company. Well, the woman, Cristina Carlino, was not just talking:
she transformed her ideas into Philosophy, the incredibly successful beauty empire she founded from scratch. We stayed in touch and it was neat to watch her idea blossom and to support her in ways I could, as I was the beauty editor of InStyle at the time.
I find that athletic, adventurous vacations leave me feeling refreshed, toned and fired up. Think about trading the beach and a hammock for hiking trails the next time you go away. You may find a new healthy habit – and friends – that will enrich your life. Where have you gone that you love? Share here – I’d love to know! xxoo Steph