Bluff, Utah

Photo: Desert Rose Resort & Cabins

The southeast corner of Utah is breathtaking. Steep switchbacks on the scenic Moki Dugout. Prehistoric villages at Hovenweep National Monument. Mighty sandstone buttes in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Organic erosion in Natural Bridges National Monument. It’s taken you too long to start exploring this unique part of the United States.

You also discovered a cool little town while driving through the remote area. With only about 320 residents, Bluff is tiny. Very tiny. But it has a big personality. The land, about 100 miles south of Moab, used to be Native American hunting grounds. Mormon farmers eventually arrived in the 1880s. Uranium prospectors followed in the 1950s. Both small booms were quickly followed by population declines. Those that remain—hippies, Navajos, and river rats—have true independent spirits.

The center of Bluff, which amounts to just a few dusty blocks, is full of stone homes and businesses with vintage handmade signs. Comb Ridge Eat & Drink, one of the few restaurants in town, serves single-pour coffee and blue-corn pancakes. Cottonwood Steakhouse offers grilled steaks and beer from local microbreweries in an Old West saloon. Just be warned: Everything closes early in Bluff. With few streetlights, it quickly becomes just you and the starry sky at night.

Photo: Desert Rose Resort & Cabins

One of the few places still illuminated as the day comes to an end is the Desert Rose Resort & Cabins. Despite being Bluff’s largest hotel, the Desert Rose isn’t that big. Since opening more than 20 years ago, the original log inn has grown to include 53 spacious rooms, suites, and cabins. Expect handcrafted, knotty-pine furniture and bright quilts in each room. Their wrap-around porches have redwood chairs. The vibe oozes a rustic charm.

That relaxed feeling extends throughout the rest of the resort, as well. A stone fireplace, burnt orange chairs, and colorful art sit under wooden beams in the lobby. Duke’s serves Southwestern dishes and mocktails (remember, you’re in a state with very strict alcohol laws) in a casual setting. There’s also a long indoor pool with great desert views.

The best spot at the resort is probably the porch, though. The two-story space is littered with comfy couches, sunset-facing chairs, and even a fire pit. It’s a quiet, peaceful place to relax after driving through red canyons all day. It’s where you’ll be searching for shooting stars for the rest of the night.

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