About 2.5 miles down a rutted dirt road it hit us. Boom! And before we could process what our eyes were seeing every pleasure sensor in our brains lit up like a Christmas tree. Zion!
There she was in all her towering glory, bathing in the sunset and positively dripping with the colors of the day’s last light. It was a unique and almost sensuous view of the iconic national park, one that felt as if we were getting our own private peek at her grandeur … and that was just the beginning of our adventure.
We were headed to Gooseberry Mesa, a mountain biking mecca just outside of Zion National Park, where a couple of unique structures have been erected in the last few years.
They’re called yurts and they are, well basically they are amazing! It is glamping (glamorous camping) at its finest. Soft cozy beds for up to six adults, a futon couch, table, stove, games, mountain biking magazines, and a wood burning stove to keep guests cozy all perched on the edge of a cliff with views seemingly stretching to the edge of the world.
Traditional yurts are habitats of the nomadic cultures found in Mongolia, Siberia and Turkey. They are round, tent-like structures made of felt or animal skins and are collapsible.
Yurts of today keep the traditional shape used by nomadic tribes while incorporating modern materials and technology to create structures that can withstand winds of up to 100 miles per hour.
Gooseberry Yurts offer the only lodging outside of camping on Gooseberry Mesa making them the perfect place to stay for your mountain biking adventure.
We arrived at Yurt 2 just in time to see the sun bid farewell to the valleys below us and watch as the night sky slowly revealed the stars, planets and moon.
A cook stove is available (bring your own fuel) as well as an above ground fire pit for cooking but we opted to grab something in the town of Hurricane, Utah and bring it up to the yurt. Dinner and view? Can’t beat that.
One of the most magical parts of the yurt experience comes after dark when the lanterns have been turned off and you can look up through the clear domed ceiling and gaze at the heavens; all while enjoying the warmth from the glowing embers in the wood burning stove. It is the perfect balance of nature and comfort.
I don’t quite remember the moment I crawled into my sleeping bag (bring your own bag or bedding, I suggest a bag) and finally gave in to sleep but I am almost certain I was smiling at the moon.
Breakfast at the yurt was eaten on the porch where bagels and hot chocolate mixed with morning warmth and the promise of some epic riding.
Maybe I am biased being a southwestern Utah girl but Gooseberry Mesa’s trail system is world class, easily some of the best riding in the state. And though people know about the trail system I feel like it has stayed mostly unspoiled. There is no pretense on the mesa just pure two-wheeled, human powered fun.
Forgive me while I wax philosophical but it is amazing what some nature therapy and a little yurt life can do to lift the soul and help you shift perspective. Maybe those nomadic tribes know something we don’t.
For more information about Gooseberry Mesa Yurts or to make a reservation visit their website.