By creating a “lifestyle” in the red rocks, The Lionsback Resort in Moab could be this town’s first utopia.

Utah Business

By creating a “lifestyle” in the red rocks, The Lionsback Resort in Moab could be this town’s first utopia.

The Lionsback Resort is coming to Moab

The first phase of the development of Lionsback Resort in Moab, Utah is officially moving forward. The long-term plan for the resort includes 188 residential homes and a four-star luxury hotel with a spa, restaurant, 7,500 square foot convention center, and a wedding venue. Thirty-four residential homes will also be completed in Fall 2022 as part of a phase one limited release. 

Invent Development Partners is the team behind the development of Lionsback Resort. Led by founder and president Jon Dwight, this project has been in the making for over 15 years and is revolutionizing real estate in Moab by creating an all-in-one “lifestyle”— complete with community, culture, adventure, and relaxation— as opposed to traditional real estate that’s typically built without all of these things in mind. 

The lifestyle at Lionsback resort is one built on the combination of outdoorsy adventure and the peaceful calm of nature. Those with an appreciation for giving their all on the trails one day and relaxing while enjoying the scenery the next will fit right in. 

The residential homes, referred to as “casitas,” range from 1,600-3,000 square feet. These homes are specifically zoned to allow short-term rentals, creating the possibility for homeowners to turn these into second homes that generate revenue. 

Though the resort is located on SITLA land, and will generate revenue to fund Utah’s public schools, many members of the community have expressed disapproval over the project due to environmental concerns, such as destruction of the natural environment, pollution, and water usage. However, Dwight and his team plan to become community leaders when it comes to water conservation. 

“A big intent is to maintain natural vegetation in landscaping,” says Dwight, who also adds that the Lionsback Resort should help alleviate the camper-caused strain on Moab land by providing more options for visitor accommodations.

“The land and its conservation are at the very center of Lionsback Resort. Our own personal histories are intertwined with this rugged terrain, which has led to careful consideration in every design, development, and landscaping decision. It’s our dream to create a destination that shares all the wonders of Moab—in a way that preserves this land for generations to come.”

Additionally, loss of local access to the natural features surrounding Moab is one of the concerns residents have about the development of Lionsback Resort but Dwight and his team say that access to nearby trails will remain open to the public and the residential homes will work with the natural grade of the land— a win-win solution for those involved.

Despite the concerns surrounding Moab’s newest resort, Dwight firmly believes the Lionsback Resort will have a positive impact on the Moab community. 

“The sales speak for themselves,” he says. “We think we’re bringing something to Moab that hasn’t been here before, and I think that the buyers at the Lionsback are the type of buyers who will want to be involved in the community.”

The Lionsback project includes five phases of development. While the date for completion of all five phases has yet to be determined, residents and visitors will be able to stay in a casita close to some of Moab’s trails, overlooking the red rock by the end of this year. 

Comments (24)

  • Laurel

    What utter crap. I have never seen anything less popular among locals of Moab than the Lionsback resort. It combines the worst of everything that is hurting Moab’s landscape and community: overnight rentals, luxury vacation homes, and bulldozing a lovely and very locally popular hiking spot to install all this ugly stuff for rich people. Whoever moves into or stays at this resort they’re going to get several earfuls from people in the community. I fundraised to stop it at one point and random locals were walking up to me at the grocery store and bar to donate $20 to stop it. And everyone comments on how awful it is to drive past the bulldozing right now.

  • Kerry Soliz

    As a Moab resident I can say quite confidently that this resort is disliked by almost all of us. The only good I can see coming out of this is that the residents and guests will not be able to hold conversations in their own homes due to the UTV noise on the sand flats road. I bet they help fix the problem of UTV noise in moab.

    Moab is full and over run. Go someplace else to have your fun.

  • Elizabeth

    This will not benefit the community at all. Locals are not about to have a glamorous wedding, use the convention center, spa…or be able to afford a primary or secondary residence. It makes me so mad. This is all about money and greed. It is ruining a very beautiful stretch of desert. Actually ruining utopia…contrary to the article title.

  • Ann Northrup

    I find this whole complex a big mistake on a beautiful piece of land. Hope the UTV noise drives you all crazy. Million dollars noise!!!!

  • Michele

    This type of project represents an extremely detrimental direction for the Moab community. The resorts’ focus on short-term rentals and profit revenue for those who can afford second homes is antithetical to the urgent needs for affordable housing in the Moab Valley. Catering to wealthy clientele does very little for the residents of this valley, and instead perpetuates a cycle of providing only low-paying service industry jobs. Currently, 31% of children in Moab are at risk of remaining in intergenerational poverty. A utopia would be a place where the urgent needs of the community are being met through investment in education, a diversified economy, affordable housing, and reducing environmental degradation from wanton development.

  • Wendy

    “Overlooking some of Moab’s trails” means this property is adjacent to extremely busy Hells Revenge. Residents would be subjected to constant noise from offroad vehicles.

  • Mike

    the very last thing Moab needs is more vacation homes. this entire project is a disgrace–a desecration of a beautiful place.
    Arches just went to a reservation system because of overcrowding, all of our trails and trailheads are over capacity, as are our restaurants, grocery stores, and infrastructure.

    want to help?
    build some affordable housing for workers and locals.

    the lion’s back project is nothing to celebrate–it is the epitome of all that is wrong with unbridled development.

  • Cassie

    This is not conservation, it is greed and devastation. The roar of off road vehicles will haunt your decision to ruin this place for the many to benefit the already privileged few.

  • Nancy Morlock

    This is atrocious. No ‘development’ can make this into a utopia. Nature already did it for us. In nobody’s utopia exists a convention center. That is laughable. Shame on the developers for pushing this through.

  • Christian

    I have guided rivers in and around Moab since 2010. Every summer I have about 50-60 coworkers living in cars in a parking lot every single day all summer long. This is a normal condition in Moab. Every tourist company depends a workforce at least partially homeless in this way.

    It is a an abomination that developers are building more businesses like this, that will require even more workers, when our existing workforce desperately needs housing. This is just another self serving project from real estate speculators designed to separate yuppie scum from their money. It has nothing to do with the needs of this town. And it turns what was a great place to walk your dogs into a fenced offed crowded eyesore.

    This is not a welcome project. It is insulting to Moab. And I have no doubt that the people of Moab will do their best to sabatoge it as well as possible and drive its customers away. This is a momunent to stupidity and greed.

    The Range. Is. Overgrazed.

  • Scott

    Barf. I never in a million years thought something would be built right at the base of Lions Back. The campground was bad enough, but this?

    I feel like getting together a couple dozen old 2-stroke Yamahas with expansion chambers and no mufflers to do laps around this abomination during the first “Destination Wedding”. Completely legal!!

  • J

    “Revolutionizing Real Estate in Moab” by inspiring a revolution against itself you mean?

    “Land and Conservation are at the Center of the resort” yes, land is at the center, that you are building a crazy sprawl on. Conservation is at the center- it’s what is at issue by building it!

    “A big intent is native vegetation” Kudos for “big intent”

  • Jason

    This resort is in no way beneficial to Moab. It is a blight upon our already over crowded landscape! No local can afford the housing. It will add more traffic to an already busy road. What kind of marketing crap do they teach in developer school.

  • LD Green

    There are just no words to express how devastating this is to our community. Shame on everyone associated with this project.

  • Virginia

    I feel as though words cannot express the loss and suffering that this resort will bestow upon those that call this space home, animal and human alike.

  • Mercedes

    Why not build decent living quarters for servers so they wouldn’t have to be bussed in from Grand Junction?


    I have not met a single resident in Moab who wants this resort. Not only has it ruined a popular local hiking destination, but it also adds to the housing crisis this town has faced for years now. It does the exact opposite in terms of helping aid that situation. Plus, it’s right next to one of the loudest Jeep trails in Moab… hell’s revenge. Every thing about this resort goes against what the actual people of Moab (not the city council) believe in terms of sustainability and growth. It’s disgusting and will be nothing more than an eyesore to everyone who actually lives here year round. It’s extremely sad when money consistently wins over the will of the community. The people who built this should be ashamed of themselves for literally bulldozing over the expressed concerns of an entire community. Shame!!

  • Lisa von Koch

    I grew up in Moab and have watched the most beautiful landscape be quickly overtaken by development in service of greed for more tourist dollars. We don’t need an oasis community, Moab already is an oasis, a paradise that is already overrun and past capacity. The last thing the community needs or wants is a bunch of “casitas” for people to live in for some of the year, rent out the rest of the year, while they pay taxes in their home states, most assuredly will not contribute anything of value to Miab itself. I don’t know how developers can even make this claim. It’s an area that is already crawling with Jeepers, it’s threatened enough as it is. Down with Empire! Up with Spring!

  • Michael Grindstaff

    Currently we have hundreds of service workers living in vehicles during the tourist season pooping in bags or out in the desert. A development like this only adds to the need for workers and drives up the cost of living for the rest of the town…doubly negatively affecting what is more than 10% of the town that is homeless. While out of towers enjoy thier second homes…the locals get to poop in their hand and sleep in a vehicle. There is profound ignorance and greed that is destroying the utopia…

  • John Gould

    A quote: “The lifestyle at Lionsback resort is one built on the combination of outdoorsy adventure and the peaceful calm of nature.” Really? Not once this “resort” is built. Madison Avenue wording won’t change the sad fact that this polished turd of a development is the antithesis of what it praises and promotes.

    The area has been open to locals for recreation forever. The Lionsback development is universally loathed.

    BTW, Moab is in the opening stages of a water crisis. Be sure to advise your guests to BYOW because soon they’re going to have to.

  • Moab person

    This sucks, it’s terrible that it is open to short term rentals. We need employee housing and real community people not more hotels and air bnb’s. So sad…

  • Pat Daniels

    Today’s visionaries create tomorrow’s dream. It takes tenacious courage to take what may appear to be a blight, with every imaginable type of opposition, and create a community amenity that will carry Moab into the ages.

  • Amy Stocks

    As a 5th generation Moabite I can assure you that the locals are not happy about this and are moving away. The community does not need a luxury development. They need affordable housing for residents and to have the open spaces that they live there for. Who is this developer and how out of touch are they?

  • Jon S

    The resort does not add to the benefit of Moab. It takes away a beautiful open space and replaces it with another resort. Moab is a crisis for employee housing. This resort knows how desperate Moab is for housing. When asked to create housing they ignored the local mandates and instead hid behind SITLA to push the resort through without a care.

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