Amangiri Creates Desert Oasis in the Heart of Canyon County
Idyllic. Unique. Secluded. Transporting. Those are just a few of the characteristics of a signature Aman property.
Amangiri, one of only two Aman properties in the United States, lives up to this resort chain’s exacting standards.
While its official address is Canyon Point, Utah, Amangiri is well out of sight and sound of any highway and within the cozy-yet-open spaces of canyon country. Who would know it even existed except for a nondescript sign off of the highway directing you there?
As you wend your way through a narrow two-lane road, you come upon the most brilliantly designed resort that beautifully blends into its environment.
No mega mansion or towering landmark greets you upon arrival. Instead, the resort draws inspiration from and makes use of its magnificent surroundings to impress and overwhelm you with beauty.
Amangiri means peace mountain in Sanskrit. In addition to the sheer beauty of the place, the quiet is what impresses. We could spend hours just sitting on our balcony enjoying the solitude.
"Do not disturb" rope outside our room
Water cascades gently down this moss-covered wall.
Day and night, shadows cast by natural and artificial light provide depth and texture to Amangiri's surroundings.
Our home sweet home in the desert for a few nights
A hat, tote and walking stick hung in our room are ready for use.
Bathtub with a view
Because two consecutive rooms were not available during our visit, we stayed in both the Terrace and Desert View Suites. Our favorite room was the less expensive desert view pictured below.
Desert view from our room
What to eat
You will want to eat at the Amangiri every chance you get. It's definitely part of the experience.
Three thoroughly satisfying meals are included with the price of admission. If you’re craving anything in-between, just ask and the resort will cater to your every whim.
While the menu takes its inspiration from the American Southwest, you’ll find plenty of traditional fare with elegant twists such a burgers blended with short rib and sirloin and wood-fired pizzas with wild mushrooms and truffle essence.
Kobe beef burger and fries
Navajo fry bread taco
A sweet and savory salad
Buffalo filet mignon
Utah rainbow trout
Fry bread and ice cream drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar
During our three-night stay, we found plenty of options to try. In fact, we were thankful we had so much time there to make the most of our menu exploration.
In addition to the menu items, we also had access to an indulgent buffet of snacks (really more like mini meals and appetizers) at breakfast and lunch, giving us even more variety.
You won’t go hungry in the desert at the Amangiri. Instead, you’ll be looking for athletic opportunities to work off your meals to allow more space for the fabulous food.
Seriously, how can you turn down this culinary lunch starter? We never did.
We basked in the morning and afternoon light as we dined. At night, we dined by firelight.
As a parting gift, Amangiri treated us to a box of chocolates with local flavors such as sage.
What to do on-site
If relaxation is your vacation modus operandi, a calm nirvana awaits you at Amangiri. Plenty of spa offerings, pools, hot tubs, steam rooms and yoga classes are available to help you find your Zen.
If active pursuits and sightseeing are more your cup of tea, Amangiri answers that call, as well.
First, let’s start with the activities that are included in the resort fee. Daily hikes in the mornings and evenings are a must-do. The personable guides share their knowledge of the terrain in a paced and memorable way.
During one hike, our guide compared the canyons’ formation to baking a cake. That was something I could certainly grasp.
He described the sand as the flour and the calcium as the liquid that binds the mix together until it is baked over millions of years in the hot sun. He described the pockmarks in the canyons’ sides as the cake’s uncooked lumps that eroded away because they never congealed in the baking process. Without all of the other elements, it’s just hot flour. Or, in the desert’s case, it's just hot sand that never turns into a canyon.
That yummy description is something I’ll always remember.
Another morning hike took us to Broken Arrow Cave and its resident artist, Ulrike Arnold.
The cave is one of Utah’s more significant archeological sites. It served as a resting place for travelers as far back as 9,000 years ago. It also features petroglyphs etched into the side of the cave and excavated pottery pieces.
At the base of the cave is Ulrike Arnold’s art studio, which she visits for a few months each year. Using area rock, sand, wind and rain, the German-born artist creates original abstract works of what she sees in the Utah desert.
Ulrike travels the world to remote sites, pulverizing local pigments and minerals into a rainbow of powers she affixes to canvases often using her bare hands. Her goal is to translate the emotional impressions of the place, its indigenous spirits and geological history onto the canvas.
Hearing Ulrike passionately talk about her work is inspiring. Seeing the art laid out on the desert plain makes you want to pick it up to protect it from the elements. Then you realize that’s the point. It’s the elements that further accentuate its beauty as a magnet and mirror of the surroundings.
As if Ulrike and the cave aren’t enertaining enough, just around the corner is a leftover set from the movie “Broken Arrow” starring John Travolta. Just like the canyons, the set came before Amangiri’s time so now it offers a bit of a novelty.
Stepping off property
As difficult as it was to leave the resort, we did venture off-site for a few excursions.
Our first priority: See Upper Antelope Canyon with its signature swirly red rock features that are a photographer’s dream. We weren’t alone. This slot canyon located in the Navajo Nation is one of Northern Arizona’s most photographed for good reason.
It was almost comical watching the dozens of photographers crammed in narrow spaces jockeying for position to get that perfect shot.
Wind and water are responsible for forming and shaping this 660-foot-long slot canyon of Navajo sandstone.
Be warned: You must hire a guide to see this place. It’s well worth hiring a knowledgeable one like ours who knows how to navigate the slot canyon. Our guide, booked through Amangiri, was able to read the crowd and number of parked cars outside Upper Antelope to determine the back route would be the best for our time of arrival. This allowed us to swim upstream to capture shots as crowd-free moments presented themselves, which wasn’t very often.
Covered pickups line up outside Upper Antelope Canyon. Crowds like this are common year-round.
Taking in the terrain around Upper Antelope Canyon
We head into the famous slot canyon through the back entrance.
To get those iconic sunbeam photos, you’ll need to go around high noon. Throwing dirt into the sunbeams also is the secret to getting those extra special shots. Our guide had all the right moves.
The Amangiri tour also provided stops at two private canyons, Rattlesnake and Owl. There we had the entire canyons to ourselves. While they weren’t quite the caliber of Upper Antelope, we thoroughly enjoyed them.
Remind you of a famous painting? It's the canyon's version of Edvard Munch's "The Scream."
I heart canyon country.
Heading out of Rattlesnake Canyon
Cattle crossing in the wash between canyon visits
Heading into Owl Canyon
Almost missed seeing this camouflaged lizard.
In an acoustically beautiful spot in Owl Canyon, our Navajo guide pulled out a double flute and began playing a native tune. That was a special treat.
For our next adventure, we signed up for kayaking on Lake Powell. Considering it was early April and plenty chilly in the mornings, we almost cancelled our early morning trip. I’m so glad we didn’t as this was one of our favorite excursions.
Talk about peaceful. The only sounds we heard on the water were our occasional voices, the rowing of our paddles and the dripping of water from our oars.
Forget yoga and meditation. The quiet and tranquility we experienced as we paddled from the open waters circling the massive Lone Rock into the narrow canyons introduced me to a whole new inner calm.
We didn’t dare talk. Silence was our soundtrack of choice.
Circling Lone Rock on Lake Powell
Our guide let us lead our own way through the canyons, which was thrilling as we didn’t know what was around each corner.
With nearly 2,000 miles of coastline, Lake Powell is a popular spot with RVers and campers. There were dozens lined up along the shore during our springtime visit.
Summers can get pretty hectic on the lake as boating activity ramps up, making kayaking less pleasant, according to our guide.
The day we chose was perfectly still, allowing us to get lost in our thoughts but fortunately not lost in the canyons. Riding along the tops of canyons millions of years in the making inspires contemplation. Then add to those thoughts the modern-day engineering feat of creating the lake.
Lake Powell got its start in 1963 when the Glen Canyon Dam held back the waters of the Colorado River. It became the second largest manmade lake 17 years later, which is how long it took for the lake to fill the canyon to the high water mark of 3,700 feet above sea level.
We also squeezed in a quick trip to see the famous Horseshoe Bend. This horseshoe-shaped loop of the Colorado River is found just outside Page, Arizona. While work is being done to construct a better vantage point without the fear of falling to your death, we were amazed to see how close people got to the edge without much thought.
The walk from the parking lot to the edge overlooking Horseshoe Bend.
With the crowds, it became hard to watch as people pulled out their cameras for selfies right on the edge of the overlook with 1,000 feet of air separating them from the bottom.
We were happy to keep a cautious, respectful distance.
This was as close as we were willing to get to Horseshoe Bend.
If we had one more day, we would have added the Ferrata tour at the Amangiri to our lineup. This on-site manmade climbing course with ladders and fixed cables gives you one of the best views of the valley once you make it to the canyon’s top. We’ll have to save that one for another time.
While there is a municipal airport 25 minutes away in Page, Arizona, we decided to combine the trip with the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. From there, it is a four-and-a-half hour drive to Amangiri. Watching the scene rise and fall, twist and turn, and change colors made every minute worthwhile.
In a snapshot
If you’re looking for a unique experience in the heart of canyon country, Amangiri is the place to visit. Even better, plan a trip around stops at other special sites including the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Monument Valley.
Three nights provided sufficient time to enjoy our surroundings and the property, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded one more day.
Amangiri allowed us to get our nature fix in the lap of luxury. It also provided just the right amount of reflective calm to better appreciate the experience. It’s a destination well worth adding to any bucket list.