The chipmunks, squirrels and pot guts come to visit at campfires. The deer peer through the cabin windows to see what’s going on inside. Hummingbirds get up close and personal with the porch sitters. The Milky Way dazzles the night sky, and the lake stretches between mountain peaks, beckoning fishermen, boaters, swimmers and dogs. Does such a place truly exist? Yes, and Moon Lake Resort lives up to its long-time slogan, “Out of this world, but still in Utah.”
Moon Lake Resort, in the Ashley National Forest in the Uinta Mountains, is a family-run business operating from May through September, offering an outdoor experience for anyone needing an escape from city life. With no internet service, cell service, or televisions, visitors actually go outside and experience nature and even find time to talk to each other face to face.
Bill and Julie Reardon have been at Moon Lake since 1994, starting out as managers and finally taking over full ownership in 2002. It wasn’t always a smooth ride and they couldn’t implement all the upgrades they had in mind until assuming ownership, but both are happy with the outcome. Bill said, “We started working in 2002 and it has never ended. Bringing everything to code, working on ancient plumbing and electrical writing. As soon as we finish one project, it is time to start the next.”
When they started out, their son was just two years old. Today, he’s an NYU grad and an actor. The Reardons say part of the draw of working at the resort was to raise their child in a family-centered business in the great outdoors. But it didn’t work out exactly as planned. With no road access to civilization in the winter, they would spend half the year in Colorado. Their son was never able to make permanent friends, and their hopes that he would take over the business one day ended when he got his diploma and headed for the stage.
But for families who come to visit and stay, free from the distractions of everyday life, it can be a life-changing experience. Bill says magic happens. He recounts how one guest told him, “You know you have a great place when the teenager who didn’t want to get in the car to come, doesn’t want to get in the car to leave.”
The first cabins were built around 1928 by the Lee Alger family. The 10- by 12-foot cabins had to be hauled up to the lake by mules because the Model Ts couldn’t do the job. More cabins were added in 1935, and then again in the early 1950s. There are 15 cabins available, 13 with plumbing, and two rustic cabins. The resort office includes a small store and boat rentals. Cabin reservations can go fast in the short season the resort is open, but, after experiencing it for the first time, many families plan a trip there every year.
The Reardons work hard to preserve the history and atmosphere at Moon Lake Resort. Bill says sometimes visitors “freak out” when they arrive and find out they can’t use their laptops or cell phones. But then the stars come out, the quiet takes over, and all of the sudden you’re reaching for a fishing pole, getting your feet wet and living a real, rather than a virtual, life.
The resort is now accepting reservations for the 2015 season.