Winston Aldworth checks into the Cougar Ridge Lodge, in Utah.


We're in Torrey, Utah, a sniff under four hours from Salt Lake City, right at the bit where the vast landscapes of southern Utah open up. The landscape is all Road Runner skylines, red cliffs and sunsets that go forever. Las Vegas is a six-hour drive the other way.

The place: The lodge sits on 16ha in Wayne County and has been open for six years. The owner plans to build more cabins, a gym and a restaurant.


Service: Our host for the night was the aforementioned owner, Gary Bagley, an ex-Marine who made his money in hiring out construction equipment. Now — happily for anyone wanting to stay somewhere amazing in this part of the world — he's pouring his money into this joint.

Despite the name, Gary has never seen a cougar on his property, let alone one on a ridge. "But I find one or two cougar-killed deer a year," he says, as I make a mental note to forgo the evening stroll.

The Cougar Ridge Lodge in Utah.
The Cougar Ridge Lodge in Utah.

The room:

I was in a Master Suite in the main Lodge. Everything was enormous, including the hot tub on the balcony where we finished our evening.

The price: You can get the whole lodge for $3350 a night. In low season, a room in one of the fabulous little casitas goes for $200 a night. Bargain prices for high-end accommodation.

What's in the neighbourhood? The lodge is 13km from the stunning Capitol Reef National Park. To get the best out of a visit to this part of the world, bring comfortable walking shoes and a sense of adventure.

Butch Cassidy once lived nearby at Circleville.

Exercise: There's a small exercise room — Gary is planning to build more casitas and a bigger gym. And there's also a golf simulator and a bowling alley in the basement of the lodge — because, America — which you can rent out for the night. Gary and his mate Kirk, who helps him out around the place, joined us for an evening of pin action and bourbon. Kirk was a shark. I was unlucky. The bourbon was neat.

The Cougar Ridge Lodge in Utah.
The Cougar Ridge Lodge in Utah.


The verdict:

A unique and beautiful place to stay on a road trip through the wonderful state of Utah.