Cougar Ridge near Torrey offers a luxury ranch experience
By Geoff Griffin and Kathleen Curry
The connection between Cougar Ridge (650 E. Cougar Ridge Road, Torrey, 435-979-7824, CougarRidge.com) and the family that runs it, goes back generations. The connection between the main lodge and the local land goes back millions of years.
Keith McKay, a stone mason who will turn 90 this year, first began going to Torrey decades ago to get sandstone from a local quarry. His children, who lived in Salt Lake, began taking their children, McKay’s grandchildren, to the spot for family vacations and fell in love with the place.
Ali Bagley, one of those grandchildren who helps run Cougar Ridge, says, “My parents just saw a piece of property, and they loved it, so they bought it. It had a bunch of old sheds on it. We pulled them down and had big bonfires.”
Once an area was cleared, “We built a cabin, then we wanted to build a barn with space for some bunkbeds,” Bagley says. However, plans kept changing and expanding. When they were done, they had a lodge big enough to sleep multiple people, “which is definitely not a barn with some bunkbeds.”
As the lodge was rising, the family kept the connection to McKay by decorating the exterior from ground floor to top floor with sandstone taken from the nearby quarry. McKay even did carvings on the exterior stone.
While the lodge has its own history, Bagley says its real goal is to be a home base for an adventurous stay. “We want people to go out there and have an experience,” she says.
To that end, the property is stocked with oak casks for beer brewing classes, wood-working facilities, a bowling alley, a golf simulator and even a wine cellar for those who want to try their hand at making wine. “We keep attempting to grow grapes,” Bagley says. “We do what we can, and we do make wine.”
Groups often book the property to hold photo and arts classes and get inspiration from the surrounding beauty. Guests can also find horses, alpacas, and a dozen Texas longhorns wandering the 42-acre grounds.
The lodge, which features a mesquite wood interior, has four master suites, each with its own bathroom and king-size bed, and two have a hot tub on a private deck. Additional people can sleep in bunkbeds on the third floor, which also has a game room.
In addition to the lodge, there are also seven “casitas” on the property, each its own house unto itself. Each has a suite with a king bed, a suite with two queen beds and a combination of fold-out couches and extra bunk beds that let a party sleep up to eight people. The casitas also come with televisions, kitchenettes and back decks stocked with Traeger grills. Casitas are currently priced at $385 per night for up to six guests.
While You’re There
Cougar Ridge sits just outside of the central Utah town of Torrey. The entrance to Capitol Reef National Park (NPS.gov/care) is just minutes away. Within the park, Cathedral Valley is a favorite for jeep tours, and can be reached in about 90 minutes by heading northwest out of Torrey and passing through Lyman, Loa and Fremont before heading east back into the park.
Heading east out of town on Highway 24, visitors can drive to Hanksville and then head north to reach Goblin Valley State Park (StateParks.utah.gov/parks/goblin-valley) or south to get to Leprechaun Canyon. Both drives take about 90 minutes.
Ali Bagley recommends hiking Calf Creek Falls, about an hour’s drive south of Torrey near the town of Boulder, and on the way back, stopping off at Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm (20 N. Highway 12, Boulder, 435-335-7464, HellsBackboneGrill.com), a restaurant selected as a James Beard Award-semifinalist, which grows most of its produce on-site. While in the area, Bagley also suggests Burr Trail Grill (10 Highway 12, Boulder, 435-335-7511, BurrTrailGrill.menu) for dishes such as fried green tomatoes and grilled trout.
Back in Torrey, Bagley notes that Rim Rock Restaurant (2523 Highway 24, 435-425-3388, TheRimRock.net) has “got the best view and some great filets,” in reference to the steak selections on the menu.