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BUSINESS HAPPENINGS - March 2001
by Janet Lowe

Camelot Adventure Lodge
Where Pavement Ends, The Adventure Begins!

The view from the porch is that of the wild Colorado River as it winds through Canyonlands. Saddlehorn and Pyramid buttes stand silhouetted against a turquoise sky. Surrounding you is Shafer Basin with hidden slot canyons, petroglyphs and sand dunes. So majestic are the dunes near the lodge that any moment you expect a camel to rise above the dune like a ship. No, you think, camels don’t live in America, they live in Saudi Arabia. And just at that moment, Clyde lifts his proud camel head high into the air, the red rock canyons and drifting sand as a backdrop. Soon Guineviere wanders over toward him, then Bill and Raji and Quasimodo join him. Curly shows up last, curious about what might be going on that he’s missing.
You’re not on a movie set, but at Camelot Adventure Lodge near Moab, Utah. Owners Terry and Marcee Moore put the emphasis on “adventure” in their unique lodging experience. And with a corral full of camels and miles of slickrock canyons to explore, it’s hard not to be adventurous.

“We like to ask our guests, ‘what’s your adventure? Is canoeing your idea of an adventure? 4-wheeling? Kayaking? Mountain biking? Camel riding? Whatever people love to do in the canyonlands are, we can weave that into their stay at Camelot Adventure Lodge,” says Terry. Terry and Marcee came to Moab three years ago from a very different kind of wilderness. They worked at lodges in and around Anchorage, Alaska, including a bear-viewing and fly-fishing lodge near Lake Clark Pass, Alaska. The Moores discovered they were really good at being inn-keepers and sharing a disappearing way of life with people. They decided to strike out on their own, but in a warmer climate.

Terry is a native of Utah, so when they started looking for the place that would house their camel trekking and adventure lodge, the red rock wilderness of southern Utah came to mind. After looking all over southwestern Utah and not finding anything appropriate, their last stop was Moab. It’s as if the land had been waiting for Terry and Marcee to find it. Their realtor took them right to what is now “Camelot.” Terry was so sure this was going to be home, he made the offer before he actually saw the property.

For three years they hauled materials 18 miles from town over Hurrah Pass to build their five room lodge and home. The camels didn’t have to travel too far to find their home in Moab. A veterinarian from Park City owned five of them. She said they weren’t happy camels in the mountains and didn’t often get outings. It’s clear the camels are happy in their new home in the desert of southeastern Utah. Quasimodo greets visitors with a burbling sound that mimics a boat engine bubbling underwater. All the leggy animals lift their long necks and lope over to see who’s new at Camelot.

Camelot Adventure Lodge offers the only camel treks of this type in North America. There are places where camels are tied together and walk along in a fine, but nowhere else can you travel deep into the desert by camel. The bad press that camels often get seems mostly undeserved. These “ships of the desert,” who do roll much like a ship when riding them are intelligent and curious. They don’t buck or spook easily. They seem to possess a great sense of humor and a lot of patience with their human burden. Before riding, Terry and Marcee give a brief orientation and lesson riding and teach some basic camel commands such as “Hush,” which means to kneel down.

“Anyone can ride a camel,” says Marcee. “Our oldest couple has been 81 and 86 years old. We’ve had people with physical disabilities and debilitating illnesses come out and ride the camels.” Children are often part of the mix at Camelot, but the Moores seldom take children younger than 11 on the canyon treks. “Most little ones don’t enjoy the ride after about 20 minutes, and we stay out between two and three hours most days.”

While camels are indisputably the center of attention at Camelot Lodge, they are only part of the adventure. As a matter of fact, part of the total adventure package is getting to the remote Shafer Basin location.

“The adventure starts the minute you leave town,” says Terry. “You can customize your trip depending on what you like to do, whether you’re a cyclist, 4- wheeler, paddler .... you could even parachute in, I guess!”

The available routes to Camelot Adventure Lodge are many; it’s hard to chose the most beautiful and exciting. If you’re planning on doing some 4-wheeling, you’ll want to drive your vehicle in on Kane Creek Road over the top of Hurrah Pass. Once it drops to the back side, it gets rocky and definitely requires good driving skills. Some precipitous drop-offs make it a heart-thumping ride! If you’re more of a river rat, you can rent a canoe and paddle up river from Moab or from the Potash Road ramp. If you’d like to see the river, but don’t want to do your own paddling, you can arrive at Camelot via jetboat. As part of the ride, you’ll float past the lodge to enjoy a long, calm stretch of the Colorado before your guide drops you off at Camelot’s beach. If you are a mountain biker, you can bike all the way to the lodge.

Terry will pick up your luggage and extra gear in town and bring it out to the lodge. Finally, for a beautiful drive through the canyons on a mostly two-wheel drive road, you can visit some of Moab’s most famous Indian rock art before parking your car at Hurrah Pass where Terry will pick you up and drive the last two and a half miles. Whatever your choice of transportation, it’s all part of the exciting Camelot experience.

Once you’re at the lodge, you’ll enjoy a solitude you thought was gone from modern life. While Camelot Adventure Lodge is technically a B&B, because of its backcountry location, it is actually a full-service lodge serving all three meals. Marcee loves cooking lots of homemade fare and always has fresh-baked cookies and pies on hand. The rooms are beautifully decorated, each with its own toilet, shower and sink. All rooms have a view and a great sitting porch stretches around the building. A short path leads down to the Colorado River where you can read, play volleyball, or swim when the river is warm and calm. There are miles and miles of canyons to hike and Terry will happily be your guide. As a Utah native, he is well-versed in the flora and fauna and loves to tell you the historic uses of the shrubs and flowers you’ll see. He can instruct you in geology, American Indian history and cultural history as you travel across sand and rock. And of course, he has some “adventurous routes” that take you through slot canyons, cracks and quiet places seldom visited by man.

The story of Camelot Adventure Lodge is just beginning. Terry and Marcee admit that their particular kind of B&B is not for everyone.

“What we are offering is to share our home, to share our way of life. We want to give people a chance to experience the desert in a remote setting. For those who want to really experience the desert, Camelot is the place to do that. It’s not the place to come if you want to shop or people watch. It’s more like where you come to watch lizards and get your T-shirt dirty following bugs around on your hands and knees,” says Terry.

Marcee echoes his philosophy: ‘People who come and stay with us find out quickly that they don’t just come out and move into their rooms. They are guests in our home. We eat together, talk in the shared living room, we play games and read together. We hope to let people return to a simpler way of life if only for a few days.”

You can reach Terry and Marcee Moore at Camelot Adventure Lodge by calling 260-1783 or at www.camelotlodge.com. Inquiries may be mailed to Camelot Adventure Lodge, P.O. Box 621, Moab, UT 84532.

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