COVID-19 curtailed our travel in 2020, and this fall we decided to take a road tour though some of the high desert areas of the western United States and visit some of America’s most spectacular National Parks. For most of our stops for lodging, we stayed in rugged remote areas, with staggering starry night skies and dramatic rock and canyon landscapes.From West Texas to the southern edge of California we found some remarkably scenic places to spend the night.
Huffman Pond Cabin — Terlingua Texas
The owner warns that this cabin—a real off-the grid back country site—may not be a good choice for everyone. To reach the cabin, a vehicle suitable for off-road driving, a truck or SUV, but a high axle is necessary. Remote and reached only by a long trek on unpaved steep and winding roads, the cabin offers majestic views of the Big Bend area in Texas. The views are the main attraction and well worth the journey. It is situated on 88 rugged, secluded acres. The silence of the region is relaxing and tranquil. The solar-powered cabin lacks some amenities: no air-conditioning, no TV, and you have to watch which electrical appliances you use (ie, no hair dryers).
There is no fireplace or an outdoor area to make a fire which was disappointing. Yet the internet is available and reliable. Furnishings are basic, and for city-folk like us, this was roughing it. Bring your own amusements—only a few jigsaw puzzles and a ragged deck of cards with the nine of diamonds missing are provided. But the views, the stunning starry nights and the wildlife make it all worthwhile. A fox adopted us, and visited in the morning for food and especially water. It is an inspiring experience you are not likely to forget.
No stores and only one restaurant are within easy drive. Nearby is the Terlingua Ranch, with the surprisingly good Bad Rabbit Café.
The Canyon House — Cortez Colorado
The Canyon House is a brilliantly designed home which exploits every possible view of Canyon of the Ancients monument and beyond. There is an enchanting stone garden in front of the home surrounded by beautiful old junipers trees and native plants. The deck off the second floor master bedroom has a private view of the rocky hills of the monument.
The house is fresh and beautifully styled in an open concept. The furniture is a contemporary mix with some Art and Crafts Antique accents. The stained glass sculpture above the stairs is pleasing as are some of the other pieces of art in the home. The entire place including the bathrooms are artfully designed using fine materials.
During our visit we had a couple of minor issues which were quickly fixed by the helpful caretakers.
Cabin in Boulder, Utah near Escalante Staircase
This cabin on the edge of the beautiful Escalante Staircase Monument was a very special surprise. It is surrounded by a beautiful pinon juniper forest full of blue jays and many other birds. The views from the house are spectacular from every window and from the large deck at the back of the property. The deck is furnished with Adirondack chairs and small tables. There is plenty of space and the cabin looks freshly painted and well maintained inside and out. The absence of TV or internet really makes you sit back relax and enjoy the pure serenity of this property. My husband and I live in the heart of Houston, Texas–so the peace and quiet of the cabin is a wonderful change. It gives you time to look inward and reflect in a positive way.
Do not confuse Boulder, Utah (population of 240) with Boulder, Colorado (population of 107,000). Other than a few small stores/gas stations, not much can be obtained here. Boulder does feature some good restaurants , but their hours did not match ours due to the COVID-19. The beauty of the area provided a perfect place to stop off the road to eat a Subway sandwich at numerous times along our journey in Utah. You couldn’t wish for a better view it was hard to believe we were enjoying it from the comfort of our car.
Olive Adobe Pioneer Town near Joshua Tree National Park
Staying in this home is unique experience. Every room has a touch of the owner’s life and interest; mostly of the area cowboys and vintage westerns. The poster on the wall in the laundry room is a nice overview of the property and area. This is a refreshing change from the usual informational binder or book that you find in most vacation rentals. It can be a challenge to find space to spread out your stuff because of all of the decoration. But once over that hurtle, you’ll enjoy your stay. The furnishings and fixtures–particularly the wood burning stove–are first rate. The owner was extremely helpful and left a bottle of wine, snacks and plenty of wood to enjoy the outdoor fireplace. We were fortunate to enjoy a night with a light snowfall—it was amazing! The exterior space was my favorite spot. The rooftop deck was a dream for looking at the night sky. The views from most of the windows and garden are very fine. The garden has a number of olive trees, which at this time of year are bursting with olives. The location is remote, but only a short drive away are restaurants and stores. Covid-19 caused many of these to be closed during our stay, but we managed. It is also an easy drive to the spectacular Joshua Tree National Park.
La Roca and Esperanza Casitas — Tucson Arizona
This spacious property has several Casitas on 10 acres of land. It has loads of desert vegetation and beautiful cactus.
The Casitas are spaced well apart, but two—La Roca and Esperanza—are close together and we rented both as they share a scenic patio and hot tub. The price for both is very reasonable. The location seems remote and rugged, but is only a short drive from downtown Tucson.
Saguaro cactus line the road to the property, which itself boasts many saguaros. The Casitas themselves are well decorated functional, and met all our needs and the views of nature from each window are dazzling. We also really enjoyed the fireplace in the living room and bedroom. Netflix was a special bonus. Another bonus was the wild life. We saw coyote and rabbits (and thankfully no scorpions or tarantulas, though we were warned), but fell in love with the quail. We spread some corn and birdseed outside our bedroom window, and a flock scampered to feed while conversing with each other. We had a really great time here.