The Cave Peak aerial stairway at Amangiri, Utah: Jaw-dropping new stairway hovers over US desert

One of the most luxurious resorts in the US now lays claim to one of the greatest thrills in North America.

Even the name is somewhat daunting. The Cave Peak aerial stairway at Amangiri, which opened in early April, is the longest climb of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are 120 steps that span 60 metres in length and hover some 122 metres above a desert expanse filled with rugged, 160 million-year-old rock escarpments.

Each step, made of thin but supportive slats of metal, is connected by a skeleton of wiring - similar to hanging bridges but on an incline. Look in any direction - left, right, up, down (if you dare) - and you'll find little between you and the vastness of the desert and its sand-swept terrain.

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Amangiri sits on 242 hectares in a protected valley in remote southern Utah, a location that's at the crosshairs of Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Grand Staircase-Escalante national parks.

The aerial stairway is accessible only to adrenaline junkies - and not just because of the nature of its hair-raising design.

To get to the starting point of Cave Peak, you must complete one of Amangiri's via ferrata courses, which are essentially rock climbing "trails" of metal climbing rungs sunk into the cliffs that traverse a series of red rock canyons.

Complete the three-hour-long circuit, and you'll be rewarded with unparalleled vistas, along with serious bragging rights.

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The attraction follows several other expansions at the luxury resort. With opportune timing last spring, Amangiri rolled out a series of glamorous tented pavilions, inspired by those at Africa's top safari lodges, which comprise a resort within the resort called Camp Sarika.

For the Covid-wary, the spaced-out, tucked-in-nature accommodations offered a cosseting and cautious escape - the likes of which there are few in the US.

Even with the newly added accommodations, the hotel doesn't have enough rooms to satisfy demand; Amangiri is mostly sold out through June, after which nightly rates start at US$3500 (NZ$5000).

More details at aman.com/resorts/amangiri.

The Washington Post

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