Posts Tagged With: Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

We just enjoyed a very busy couple of weeks visiting 3 of the beautiful national parks in Utah.  I think Utah might just be my favorite state now, or at least a tie with Colorado.  Utah is extremely beautiful, you must go!

The first park we visited was Capitol Reef National Park.  I heard that many people skip this park in favor of the more popular locations.  We almost skipped it too, but I was unable to book 2 full weeks in Moab, so we needed a place to go for a week before we could go to Moab.  That turned out to be a blessing because I am so glad we came to this park!  It was incredible, and in my opinion it is a place you should not skip if you are planning a trip to Utah.

The drive from southwest Colorado to Capitol Reef was one of the most beautiful drives we have had in our travels.  If your travels take you in that direction, I would highly recommend taking highways 95 and 24.  Both are incredibly scenic, but make sure to fill up with gas before getting on 95.  It is a very long drive with no place to stop for anything, and no cellular coverage either.

Here are a couple of pictures from the drive:

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We stayed at Thousand Lakes RV Resort in Torrey, UT.  This was a very nice RV park and we were lucky enough to get one of their extra large back-in sites.  The interior pull-through sites looked a little tight, but the back-ins were nice.  There is no Verizon coverage in this area, but AT&T worked great.  This was the one time we needed our backup AT&T plan.

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The town of Torrey is super cute.  There is a little grocery store and a bakery/deli where you can get lunch on your way in to the park to hike for the day.  When you drive into town, the speed limit is 35 and there is a police car parked on the side of the road.  The first couple of times we drove down the road we thought this was a real police officer waiting to catch speeders driving through town, but after a few times we realized it’s a fake guy behind the driver’s seat.  Really funny, and I guess it works to slow people down driving through town, at least until they realize he is not real.

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It looks like he’s been sitting here for a long time; he’s quite wrinkly!  He looks a little grumpy too.

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Okay, enough about where we stayed and how we got there.  Let’s get on with Capitol Reef.  All I can say is A-MA-ZING!  The scenery is so incredibly beautiful!  It was only a 10 minute drive into the park from our RV park, so we went in each evening after work to hike and explore.  It helps that it doesn’t get dark until 8:30 at this time of the year.  The first night we did a short hike on the Sunset Point trail.

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The second night we hiked to Chimney Rock.  This is a more strenuous 3.5 mile loop, with a lot of uphill climbing.  It was great exercise and incredible views from the top.

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The kids loved all the rock climbing!

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Another night we hiked to Hickman Bridge.

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One evening we did the Grand Wash Trail.  The trail map showed this as being a 2.2 mile trail out and back meaning 4.4 miles total, but it turned out to be a little longer than that — about 5 miles round trip.  We were all pretty tired after that one and probably could have just stopped and turned around halfway through and that would have been enough.

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We saved the best for last.  On Saturday we hiked to Cassidy Arch which was amazing!  Definitely my favorite hike of the week!

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The hike up to this point was all uphill, but it was so worth it to come around the corner and see the arch off in the distance.

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These rock piles are called rock cairns.  The park rangers put these on trails to help you stay on the trail.  They’re very helpful because there are many times where it would be hard to determine which way the trail goes.

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The rock cairns are especially helpful when hiking on wide areas of slickrock like this.  See the little rock piles along the way?  That helped us to know which way to go.

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This is up on top of where the arch is.  It was a great place to stop and have a snack break.

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The view was gorgeous from up there!

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We’re looking down into the back side of the arch in this picture.

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After Cassidy Arch we went down to the campground that is part of Capitol Reef.  The campground is surrounded by orchards and red rocks.  It is beautiful!

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We really enjoyed our week at Capitol Reef.  I would highly recommend it if your travels take you to Utah.

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Categories: National Parks, Utah | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

My New Favorite State is Colorado

After leaving Bryce Canyon, we had planned to stay at Lake Powell for a week.  Lake Powell is in both Utah and Arizona.  We stayed on the Arizona side at the Wahweap Campground.  Lake Powell is so beautiful and the water is so incredibly blue!  Unfortunately it was over 100 degrees when we were there so we only stayed for 3 days.  I hear all the time about how the heat in Arizona is a “dry heat”.  I don’t care what they call it, when the temps get over 100, it is pretty darn hot.  And in an RV it seems worse because during the heat of the day, even running two A/C’s, we just can’t keep it cool.  There are many interesting places to visit at Lake Powell including Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the dam and hanging gardens at Glen Canyon.  We are planning to come back out west next year and definitely want to return to Lake Powell to see all those places we missed this time because it was just too hot.

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After Chris & I were finished working each day this is what we were doing.  That lake water felt heavenly after melting in the heat of the RV all day.

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Since we decided to cut this trip short, we moved on to Colorado.  I absolutely love Colorado!  It is incredibly beautiful and the weather is fabulous!  Of course I may not think so in the winter, but it was wonderful in the summer.  On our way there we made a stop at Four Corners Monument.  This is the spot where the four states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado meet.  It was pretty cool to be able to be in all 4 states at one time.

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In Colorado we visited the super cute town of Telluride.  We took some advice from Trip Advisor and parked at the parking garage in Mountain Village.  The parking garage was plenty big enough for our dually truck and only costs $7 for the day.  From the parking garage you can ride the free gondola into Mountain Village where there are lots of shops, restaurants and lodging.  Mountain Village is at the bottom of a mountain biking trail (it’s a ski area in the winter time).  People were riding their bikes down the mountain and then they hook their bikes to the gondola to ride back up the mountain.  I definitely want to come back with bikes and do that someday.  That looked like so much fun!

When the bikers get off the gondola at the top of the mountain, you can get off and take some pictures and walk some trails.  Then you can get back on the gondola and continue down into Telluride.  I wanted to do a 5 mile hike to Bear Creek Falls so we didn’t do any extra hikes near the bike trails.  The hike to the falls was a strenuous 2.5 mile hike up the mountain, then an easy 2.5 miles back down.  When we were almost to the falls we heard thunder and it started drizzling, but we were determined to get there after having already walked most of the way.  At one point Jake got really tired and said he needed to stop and rest.  Just before we stopped to rest we finally saw the falls which gave us that extra energy we needed to make it the rest of the way.  It was cold and drizzling a little, but still worth the hike to see it.

View from the gondola ride.

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View from the top of the mountain where the mountain bikers start.

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View from the gondola on the way down to Telluride.

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The cute little town of Telluride.

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At the start of our hike we had no idea how hard it would be.  I mean it’s only 5 miles round trip, right?  How hard can that be?

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Views from our hike up to Bear Creek Falls.  It’s still a nice sunny day.

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It’s getting cloudy and we’re starting to hear thunder, but we’re not stopping now!

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Time for a rest.

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We made it, the beautiful falls!

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View looking back down.

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Resting on the way back down.

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I loved Telluride and definitely would like to go back there again for mountain biking in the summer and snow skiing in the winter.

The next day we visited Mesa Verde National Park.  This park has lots of cliff dwellings where Native Americans lived a few hundred years ago.  It was really cool to see their homes, walk through the rooms and imagine what it must have been like living there.

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Junior Rangers with a Big Ranger.

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Hiking down to another cliff dwelling.

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Mesa Verde has many vista points where you can see the other 3 states of the Four Corners.

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Earning another Junior Ranger badge.  We just love the Junior Ranger program.  Jake and Jesse are learning so much of our nation’s history doing these programs.  This is Roadschooling at it’s best!

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We stayed at Mesa Verde RV Park right across the street from the national park.  The views from our campsite were amazing and the weather was perfect!

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One thing I really wanted to do while we were in Colorado is ride an alpine slide.  My parents took my sister and me to some alpine slides in New England when we were kids.  It was so much fun and I would love to take our kids to one.  Durango Mountain Village has an alpine slide, so Chris took an afternoon off work so we could go.  Unfortunately we got there and found out they changed their summertime hours and are now only open on weekends.  We were so disappointed!  Thanks to another Fulltime Family blog though I found out there is an alpine slide in Gatlinburg, TN and we are planning to go there later this year, so hopefully we’ll get another chance at the alpine slide thing.  🙂

We only just scratched the surface of visiting Colorado, visiting just the southwestern portion of the state.  And if we were not on our way to the Fulltime Families “Not Back to School Roadschool” rally in Missouri, we would have stayed longer.  There is so much more to see and Lord willing, we will be back for a much longer stay someday.

Categories: Colorado, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is by far my favorite place we have been so far.  It is the most unique and beautiful place I have ever seen.  And Utah is a gorgeous state!  We did so many fun and interesting things here so I apologize in advance for the long blog post.

Our favorite activity was the trail rides!

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Our guide, Shawn was awesome!  He stayed very close to Jesse since he was the smallest in the group and probably looked the most nervous.  The guide stopped and pointed out interesting places to us and told us a lot of history about Bryce.  He also told a lot of jokes.  At one point he stopped and got off his horse and lined us all up for a family picture.  He was the best guide we could have asked for!

Jake did great!  His mule tried to go her own way a few times and he was able to get her back on track.  One time she rode him so close to the cliff and then turned around to start going back down into the canyon.  I was so nervous watching that, but I was so proud of Jake.  He didn’t panic or anything, he just patiently guided her back in the right direction.

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They had a photographer waiting for us to get to this point so we could each get in a picture which was nice since I’m usually taking the pictures.

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One of our friends said Chris looks like someone from the movie City Slickers in the picture below. 🙂

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Just before the trail ride we saw our first rattlesnake in the wild.  We wouldn’t have even seen it if someone else hadn’t pointed it out to us.  The scary thing is we just walked right by that spot and didn’t even see it.  It’s amazing how easily they can blend into the background.

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We completed the “I Hiked the Hoodoos” challenge for the boys’ Junior Ranger books by finding the benchmarks below on our hikes.  At each benchmark the boys could get a pencil rubbing of the benchmark to prove we went there.  My favorite hike was to Queens Garden.

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We found the queen, see her?

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The next hike was the Navajo Loop.  After finding Queens Garden you can continue onto this trail.

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Another activity the boys had to do to earn their badge was to pick up trash on our hikes.  They’re such good little Junior Rangers!

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That was enough hiking for one day.  The next day we went back and did the hike to the Tower Bridge.

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A little window in the wall.

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View from the other side.  I spy a Jesse.

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We found the Tower Bridge!

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One evening we drove out to Rainbow Point to see some other scenic viewpoints.  The Natural Bridge was really amazing.

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And another day we drove to Fairyland Point.  This park has so many beautiful vistas!

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The next weekend we did some more hiking at Red Canyon which is just 10 minutes from Bryce Canyon.

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This tunnel is at Red Canyon on the way to Bryce Canyon.  We had to drive our RV under it on the way to Bryce and we got nervous about our height.  We pulled over and measured to make sure we could fit under it.

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And then we went to Mossy Cave back at Bryce where we were so excited to find a beautiful waterfall.  Being out west it has been so dry and it’s unusual to see running water.

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We attended an evening ranger program on astronomy.  The night skies are really dark since there are no big cities nearby so you can see so many stars.  After the astronomy program they had big telescopes set up outside and we were able to see Saturn with its rings.  We also saw some shooting stars in the sky that night because there was a meteor shower that week.

After attending the ranger program, completing their trash pickup and hiking the hoodoos, the boys were able to get their Junior Ranger badges.

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We stayed at Ruby’s Inn RV Park just outside of the national park.  There is a free shuttle bus that will take you from the campground into Bryce.  Ruby’s Inn seems to have a monopoly in that town, I think they must own everything in the area.  The campground is not cheap, but it was the closest and easiest way to spend so much time at Bryce.  The campground is very nice and the campsites are the largest we have ever seen.  They have a pool that was very crowded most of the time so the kids only used it once.  There is also an indoor pool at the Inn that you can use if  you’re staying at the campground.  There is a grocery store, a couple of restaurants and some other shops there also.  Of course everything is overpriced so if you plan on staying there, make sure you stock up on groceries before you get there.  Ruby’s Inn is very cute though and they have some cute picture-taking opportunities in front of the shops.

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Bryce Canyon is definitely a place I would love to come back to see again someday.

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Categories: National Parks, Utah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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