My Top 3 Desert Getaways for Off Season!

When the itch for summer really sets in, it’s time to plan a trip to the desert. Here are my top 3 desert getaways for off-season!

  1. Fruita, CO

    At the edge of Western Colorado, just a few miles from Utah, lies a paradise for outdoor lovers. Fruita, Colorado sits at about 4,734 feet with an arid climate. This leads to short and mild winters, making it a perfect getaway to shake those mountain winter blues. Being only 3 hours away from Crested Butte makes it an easy road trip whether you have a whole week or just a quick weekend.

    Outdoor Activities

    The North Fruita Desert is just minutes from downtown Fruita. This desert is part of the Bureau of Land Management and plays host to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails as well as an off-highway vehicle open area, and a shooting range. What’s even better is that you can camp where you play! There are over 50 paid campsites as well as dispersed camping.

    Just to the south of town is the Colorado National Monument which was established in 1911. You can see the park from above by driving the historic Rim Rock Drive or get up close along one of the many hiking trails ranging from .25 miles to over 14 miles. This national treasure boasts wonderful wildlife and nature observing as well as camping.

    Rainy Day Activities

    Fruita is home to the Museums of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey. This museum provides interactive, hands-on experiences and over 15,000 fossil specimens. It’s a great way to beat nasty spring weather and learn of the geographic and historic significance of the area.

    Where to Drink and Eat

    A trip to Fruita isn’t complete without a visit to Copper Club Brewery. This family (and dog) friendly establishment has great beer, snacks, Colorado local Zuberfizz soda, and games. If you get hungry, call in a to-go order of DELICIOUS Hot Tomato Pizza which you can pick up and bring right back to the brewery to eat.

  2. Moab

    Just an hour and a half west of Fruita is the National and State Park powerhouse of Moab, Utah. Home to the the largest national park in Utah (Canyonlands), the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches (Arches National Park), and one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world (Dead Horse Point State Park), Moab is a gateway to fun.

    Outdoor Activities

    There is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy in Moab. The National and State Parks offer plenty of hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping but there is more to do as well such as hot air ballooning, fishing, and four-wheeling. Whatever adventures you choose will bring you to beautiful sights from breathtaking sunsets to actual preserved dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs.

    Rainy Day Activities

    Dinosaurs seem to be quite the theme for high deserts, for good reason. Many important archaeological discoveries have been found in these areas, including Moab. You’ll be able to spend hours at the Moab Giants, a one-of-a-kind museum. You’ll be face to face with creatures from sea turtles to megalodons in the virtual 5D PaleoAquarium, and learn of their origins in the 3D Theater. With exhibits, and hands-on activities, there’s something for everyone.
    If you’re all dinosaured out, head to the Red Cliffs Lodge where they’ve collected memorabilia from the many movies filmed around the Moab area and created the free Film and Western Heritage Museum.

    Where to eat and drink

    Local favorite, Singha Thai, is the perfect meal after a day of adventuring. With delicious sauces and friendly service, it can get very busy, so it’s best to make a reservation. If you’re looking to class it up a bit with some fancy cocktails, you’ll definitely want to try La Sal House whose concoctions can start the night off right and tasty.

  3. Santa Fe

    While most people know they can flee to Moab and Fruita to thaw, Santa Fe is lower on the spring break destination radar. It is one of the oldest state capitals in the country and encompasses the enchantment that New Mexico is known for. It is a cosmopolitan mecca for arts and outdoor activities.

    Outdoor activities

    The Santa Fe National Forest surrounds the city and offers plenty of hiking, mountain biking, and scenery. The Pecos National Historic Park is within this National Forest and provides a beautiful setting to explore the ancestral sites trails. Singletracks.com named Santa Fe as one of the top 10 mountain biking destinations with areas such as Dale Ball Outer Limits Trail System.

    Rainy day activities

    Santa Fe has a plethora of world class museums, performing arts programs, art galleries and more. There truly is no end to activities to do when the nasty spring weather rolls in. There are the can’t-miss visits like the beautiful Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the creative, immersive Meow Wolf, but there also so many more things to see. There is a museum for everyone from arts, children, culture, history, bugs and even their local National Guard. Don’t believe me? Just CLICK HERE to see for yourself. There are also art galleries and the spectacular Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi which, whether you are religious or not, is a testament to historical structures and gardens.

    Where to Eat and drink

    The Coyote Cafe offers the perfect rooftop patio to enjoy a great southwestern meal and tasty margarita while watching the sunset off of the historic adobe walls of downtown Santa Fe. Just a block away is The Matador, a great punk rock dive bar that provides friendly service and cheap, great drinks. Looking to get away from the crowds? Try out Horseman’s Haven Cafe where you have to try the green chile!

    Bonus Round

    The road to Santa Fe leads you past one of the best hot springs hands down and is well worth a detour. Ojo Caliente Spa is the epitome of relaxation. They provide wonderful services and soothing waters. They have a resort in Santa Fe as well if you’re antsy to get to your destination.

    Need someone to take care of your pets while you’re gone? Reserve your space ahead of time with Pet Au Pairs!

Megan Clark