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Big Horn Lodge: A Moab Classic
By Linda Schmidt

Comfortable, accommodating, and friendly, the Big Horn Lodge has been serving Moab visitors since February, 1998. It has a large and varied family of repeat customers, according to Britnie Ellis, the Lodge’s warm and up-beat manager. Yearly returns of groups for off-road and mountain bike events, as well as individuals who have fallen in love with this cozy southwest motel are some of the folks that make up the Big Horn Family. Many special events are hosted here, such as family reunions and weddings, which no doubt add new members to its loyal clientele.

This Moab landmark began life as a Travel Lodge in the 1960’s. It catered to the influx of uranium hunters and miners as well as folks simply traveling between Salt Lake and Arizona. In those early years it was the star on the street, but fell on hard times, as did all of Moab in the 80’s, when the uranium boom ended. Over a period of 18 months the population dropped from 12,000 to between 4000-5000, and property values bottomed out. Though just a child at the time, 5th generation Moabite Britnie remembers the anxiety in adult voices as they discussed the crisis. But in came the 4-wheelers, mountain bikers, and tourists inspired by the scenery in John Wayne movies; and the economy began to recover.

Purchased by Colin Fryer in the late 1990’s, the Lodge was renovated and given a new brand to fit the change in clientele. It opened for business as the Big Horn Lodge in February of 1998, with southwest styling and a name to suit. Customer service has been its top priority since the beginning, with caring commitment to both guests and employees. The result of offering the very best value by design, such as two queen-size beds in each of its 58 rooms, is the Big Horn’s ability to cater to every kind of Moab visitor: independent travelers, including those who travel with pets, bus tours, contractors, seniors, and frequent iterations of movies casts and crews. The Lonestar country music band stands out in Britnie’s memory as the most fun entertainers that have stayed in the Lodge; they interacted with the other guests with games out in the parking lot!

Britnie began working in the Lodge six months after it opened, and soon became the manager. She notes a major change in travel planning modes over the years. Social media has opened the window to the experiences of others; reading these and seeing photos of places that interest them, most travelers now make reservations on-line. Direct sales at the front desk are mostly a thing of the past, and though it seems that Britnie has some regret about the loss of this interaction, she welcomes Moab’s robust economy.

The Lodge’s large outdoor pool and sitting areas are especially attractive late afternoon as visitors relax after the day’s activities. The pool is open from April 1st till mid October, as weather permits. Also outside is a bike wash area. A hot tub and laundry facilities are shared with its sister property across the street, The Red Stone Inn. Each room has its own refrigerator, microwave, hot beverage/coffee maker, free wifi, and flat screen TV. Very tasty food is available at the Moab Grill on-site. $1 pancakes every Saturday are a hit with both guests and locals!

The Big Horn Lodge is open year round, and offers winter specials and weekly rates for its comfortable, attractive rooms. October is a great time to visit Moab; make your visit even more enjoyable and book a stay at this classic motel! You will find it at 550 South Main Street, the southern end of Moab’s business district. Phone 435-259-6171, or toll free 800-325-6171, and be sure to mention you read about the Big Horn Lodge in Moab Happenings. Check out for reservations as well as lodge/area information and photos.

Coming to Moab? You must see Arches, Canyonlands, and GearHeads, but not necessarily in that order! You will find GearHeads Outdoor Store at 471 South Main Street #1, next to City Market. Open 7 days a week, 8 am to 9 pm. And right now, you can check out their great website at

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