A New, Jaw-Dropping Thrill Attraction Hovers Over the Utah Desert
(Bloomberg) -- One of the most luxurious resorts in the U.S. now lays claim to one of the greatest thrills in North America.
Even the name is somewhat daunting. The Cave Peak aerial stairway at Amangiri, which opened in early April, is the longest climb of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere. There are 120 steps that span 200 feet in length and hover some 400 feet above a desert expanse filled with rugged, 160 million-year-old rock escarpments.
Each step, made of thin but supportive slats of metal, is connected by a skeleton of wiring—similar to hanging bridges but on an incline. Look in any direction—left, right, up, down (if you dare)—and you’ll find little between you and the vastness of the desert and its sand-swept terrain. Amangiri sits on 600 acres in a protected valley in remote southern Utah, a location that’s at the crosshairs of Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Grand Staircase-Escalante national parks.
The aerial stairway is accessible only to adrenaline junkies—and not just because of the nature of its hair-raising design. To get to the starting point of Cave Peak, you must complete one of Amangiri’s via ferrata courses, which are essentially rock climbing “trails” of metal climbing rungs sunk into the cliffs that traverse a series of red rock canyons. Complete the 3-hour-long circuit, and you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled vistas, along with serious bragging rights.
The attraction follows several other expansions at the luxury resort. With opportune timing last spring, Amangiri rolled out a series of glamorous tented pavilions, inspired by those at Africa’s top safari lodges, which comprise a resort within the resort called Camp Sarika. For the Covid-wary, the spaced-out, tucked-in-nature accommodations offered a cosseting and cautious escape—the likes of which there are few in the U.S. Even with the newly added accommodations, the hotel doesn’t have enough rooms to satisfy demand; Amangiri is mostly sold out through June, after which nightly rates start at $3,500.
Other American outposts of luxury are seeing similar demand and adding outdoor thrills accordingly.
Blackberry Farm and its new, adventure-focused sibling property, Blackberry Mountain, in Tennessee, also offer wobbling ropes courses through parts of their 5,200-acre preserve, along with crash courses on bouldering and mountain biking. Demand has been so high that the hotel has installed a pop-up to appear on its online bookings tool, apologizing for the lack of availability and offering spots on a waitlist.
At the Resort at Paws Up in Montana, which is opening a spinoff hotel called the Green O in June, the opportunity to whitewater raft on the Blackfoot River or rappel down 170-foot canyons is all but sold out for the summer, with weeklong reservations for its $1,700-a-night cabins proving almost impossible to book online through at least August.
Even as Covid-19 precautions remain firmly in place—and travel limited largely within domestic borders—a spine-tingling thrill seems to be just the prescription for the cooped-up blues.
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