If you’ve ever visited us at the Lodge, you will have noticed those great, big cliffs behind us. That is Velvet Ridge, and it extends for miles in both directions, giving Red Rich Ranch its dramatic backdrop. As the sunlight moves across the face of Velvet Ridge, shadows appear and retreat, creating an ever-changing landscape. And while the sight is impressive from the ground, we think it looks better from up top.
The easiest way to access Velvet Ridge is via the trailhead in Torrey, five minutes east of the Lodge on Highway 24. Before you enter the town, turn left at Sand Creek Road. Travel about one mile until you come to an unpaved parking area where you will see the Great Western Trail Information Board.
The trail is a 14-mile loop, unpaved, and classified as moderate. You can hike it or ride it on mountain bike, motorcycle or horseback. (Due to its length, we recommend riding over hiking.) Plan on taking several hours to complete the loop, depending upon your pace.
The loop begins with a short incline – probably the hardest part of the trail. After that, you can enjoy a leisurely hike or ride up and down the hills. The elevation at the summit is 7,350 feet. From here, you’ll have excellent views of the Fremont River below. As you continue on, you’ll even be able to look down on the Lodge at Red River Ranch (“Hey, I can see my guesthouse from up here!”)
The best time to plan your visit to Velvet Ridge is during late spring or early fall, that way you avoid extreme heat or winter’s snow. If you’re considering a Southern Utah vacation this season, Velvet Ridge offers a great day activity.