Learn Primitive Survival Skills (Sort of) at Canyon Ranch, Tucson

Canyon Ranch Tucson Fire Building Class
Canyon Ranch, a luxury fitness resort that is widely known as one of the healthiest places to vacation in America, has for a long time been considered a place where women go…and men reluctantly follow. In the past few years they’ve been trying to boost their image amongst the hairier sex, improving weight lifting facilities in the gym, supplying heartier (and meatier) food options and with programs and activities that won’t put us men to sleep. They’ve got a sweet tennis program, a baller climbing wall and obstacle course and have done a pretty good job thus far, but the new Primitive Survival Skills Program launched at their Tucson property has gone a step further. It’s a three day program that is a perfect bonding moment for couples.

It’s run by Randy Kinkade, a man who has been teaching outdoor survival skills at his own school since 1990 and has been participating in the survivalist lifestyle since 1981. You won’t turn into Bear Grylls at Canyon Ranch (no cow blood drinking or snake killing) but you and your partner will have a lot of fun learning to do things like making a stone aged Hoko Knife out of a piece of obsidian rock, twigs and yucca leaves, or creating a fire with nothing more than a few pieces of wood and some string. Fire from scratch, gentlemen. Fire. From. Scratch. And that was just day one.

But it’s not all physical. We spent a morning learning how to track footsteps, and by the end we were able to tell which way a person’s head was turning or how fast they were moving, just by looking at the details of a print. Next, it we learned how to walk in the woods without making a sound; done correctly it’s the proper way to sneak up and pet a deer. That afternoon, Kinkade taught us about foveal focusing—how to transform your plane of sight from tunnel vision into a wide screen TV, which is necessary to being a good hunter, and as it turns out, driving.

Primitive Survival skills classes take up about half the day. The rest is up to you. We spent some time chilling in the eucalyptus infused sauna, hiking some beautiful desert scenery (there are plenty of trips to near by Sabino Canyon and up the Catalina Mountains) and took a class on how to properly stretch your feet.

Canyon Ranch is all inclusive (only the spa and metaphysical programs are a la carte), which means no arguing over dinner bills and everything’s healthy—low cal, low fat, low carb and, surprisingly tasty. Portions were teeny, but that just gave us the chance to order half of everything on the menu, without worrying about price. The biggest problem you’ll face? There’s no bar and booze is not served (even at dinner) but it is allowed in your room—a problem that was easily resolved by borrowing one of Canyon Ranch’s bikes and heading 5 minutes down the road to the Circle K gas station at the entrance. It’s well known to have the best curated wine selection of any gas station in all of Arizona (maybe America), and sipping vino in our room like college kids was probably one of the most romantic things we’ve done in a long time.

More info: Prices at Canyon Ranch start at 4 nights double occupancy – $4,360 per person (includes $650 service allowance for each guest which can be used at the Spa)

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