All of the wagon-circling fun, with none of the dysentery. 

By Alex Schechter
Updated: January 24, 2017
Conestoga Ranch

A new luxury camping resort in Utah is enticing travelers to the state’s northeast corner, away from the “Mighty 5” coalition of epic national parks (count ‘em: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, and Canyonland) that traditionally draw tourists to the region.

Conestoga Ranch, which opened in July, sits on private land overlooking Bear Lake, a sparkling blue backdrop that’s been called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” (its intense turquoise hue is the result of underwater limestone deposits). The owners, former East Coast hedge-funders, actually stumbled upon the area while vacationing with their families, and decided to pursue their dream of opening an Old West-inspired luxury resort.

The property’s main attraction? Its custom-built Conestoga covered wagons, which can sleep up to eight, and sit in circle formation next to a shared fire pit (hint: s’mores ingredients can be purchased at the on-site General Store). Unlike their 18th-century prototype, however, these wagons are equipped with luxury linens and have access to modern, private showers in the Main Lodge.

(For a fuller array of 21st-century comforts, try one of the resort’s Grand Tents, all of which have en-suite bathrooms, private fire pits, and mini-fridges.)

Conestoga Ranch targets families—its restaurant has ping pong and video games, and every Saturday night there’s a rodeo—but the surrounding lake’s full range of water activities would appeal to travelers of any age: sailing, jet skiing, scuba diving, stand-up paddle boarding...there’s even a full-service marina just a few steps from the property.

As the busy season (June-September) winds down, fall is the perfect time to book a stay—who knows, you might get inspired to drop anchor and build a dream resort of your very own.

Rates for a double-capacity wagon start at $79.