Like settlers 150 years before them, Karen Kesler and Sally Elliot are pioneers — but instead of journeying west to stake their claim in remote territory, they forsook notoriously scenic Mendocino, California, for 72 high-desert acres in southern Utah's red-rock country. With Capitol Reef National Park and two national forests as neighbors, SkyRidge Bed & Breakfast is a portal to all sorts of lung-cleansing activity: cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing in winter; fishing, hiking, and mountain biking the rest of the year. Local outfitters supply much of the gear; the innkeepers offer guidebooks and point you to trails that begin right at their doorstep.
You can also take a more laid-back approach, with a sunset soak in a hot tub surrounded by vermilion sandstone cliffs. Try a dollop of smoked-trout pâté and some sangria during the evening hors d'oeuvres hour, or nap in the living room (shown here) by the fire. The six guest rooms vary in size but share an inspired mix of antique and Western-influenced handcrafted furnishings, as well as artwork selected by Kesler, a former director of the Mendocino Art Center. But even the paintings can't compete with the most magnificent portraits of all — 78 images of untamed landscape framed by the windows of the inn. SkyRidge Bed & Breakfast, 950 E. Hwy. 24, Torrey, Utah; 435/425-3222; www.bbiu.org/skyridge; doubles from $105.