Family Fun Adventure: Bryce Canyon National Park

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Ahhh, Bryce Canyon! TOO beautiful to describe and the photos don’t do it justice. Mostly, I run around trailing kids and reach for the camera for a quick shot, barely looking through the view finder ūüôā

Continuing where my last post left off, the next day brings us to Bryce Canyon National Park. Warning: Lots of pictures ahead, not too many tips though due to the weather

Day #3: We booked two nights in the town of Panguitch, Utah and again, woke up early Saturday for breakfast that was included in the room prices. We headed out at around 7 and made it into the park on a very cold and snowy day. All the hiking trails were closed due to the weather, but the viewpoints were being cleared for the day

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We started out parking near Sunrise Point and walked the snowy Rim Trail to Sunset and on to Inspiration Points. The day started nice and sunny. Because of the weather we couldn’t make any trips into the canyons, which I can imagine would be quite incredible. The part of the trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points are a pretty easy walk and the kids had so much fun with the snow

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Cole (age 14) following the trail beside the steep drop offs

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Daddy keeping the tiniest turkey back from the edge. See that pebbly ridge? Yup, a snow covered slope down from there!

 Not gonna Lie, the trail was scary with little kids. The trail itself was mostly wide, but the steep drop offs coupled with the slippery conditions as well as overly excited children, made for nervous parents. We each stuck close to and mostly held the younger kids hands. Of course, being mom, I constantly reminded the older kids to be extra careful. They were sliding, running, throwing snowballs, and I just wanted them to be safe

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 The contrasting colors were vibrant and unbelievably stunning

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Winter wonderland definitely added a extra fun element

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At the first lookout the kids are relatively happy and wow, they are smiling!

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They couldn’t stop themselves the entire time from making snow ‘Angels’

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My older boys are very uncooperative for taking pictures most of the time, so they are pretty rare shots

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I must say I love hiking in the woods and by rivers. It’s so relaxing to be out in this type of nature. Normally, we hike the dry chaparral of California in the roasting heat, so this is a welcomed change

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Proof that there were parents along for the trip. Well a parent and an Eskimo ūüôā

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After about 3 pm the kids were cold and tired. We headed back to the hotel for a some vacation snacking, T.V. watching and just chilling

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After they warmed up and dried off the little boys, Alvin and Daddy made a snowman behind the hotel

Day #4: Woke up early and loaded the van for making our way home today. For some reason (maybe a religious thing as it was Sunday) even though the hotel  (Days Inn booked on priceline) advertised breakfast at 6:30, as we enjoyed the previous day, they did not have anything out on Sunday. In fact no one was in the lobby and it was all locked up, I tried calling the front desk, waiting etc. Finally, we just had to leave our keys in the rooms and go. That was kind of a bummer as I was counting on that being a big meal to keep the kids happy at the start of a long drive. Thank goodness for back up snacks and a couple hours later we arrived in Vegas in time for another buffet lunch to make up for it. So all was not lost. I will say that room service was very kind the day before in helping us charge our dead battery to get us on our way and the breakfast was one of the nicest we have had at simple lodgings

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One final pic of enjoying the view. I can’t wait to visit again and hike down into the canyon trails.

What are your top favorite National Parks?

Family Fun Adventure: Zion National Park

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Hey Lovelies! Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season and making fantastic memories. For once I have pictures a plenty for this post. The scenery was SO stunning and I found myself snapping a photo every couple of steps. Hubbs also took many of the pictures I’ve included in this post on his phone. Everywhere you look is postcard perfect. Come along with us on a picture journey through Zion National Park

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We were kinda of on the fence about taking this trip at Thanksgiving break, because we weren’t sure if the weather would be fun for us Cali natives to hike in. We were extremely lucky in that we lucked out both days with pretty clear weather and views for both days that we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. ¬†Here’s is the itinerary we followed for our 4 day trip to these beautiful Southern Utah parks and a few tips. Enjoy!

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Happy to be outta the van and ready to hike

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Day #1: Woke up early and started the day long drive out to the Zion area. We broke up our journey in Vegas for a Thanksgiving buffet lunch, thankfully we made it in before the huge dinner crowds. The meal ended up being about what we would’ve spent on a home cooked special meal, so even though it was not an inexpensive meal, it still worked out ok. We learned that if you sign up for a players card (you don’t need to play) at the casino that the buffet is attached to, you can receive a couple bucks off each meal. After the lunch pit stop headed on out to the town of Springdale, Utah, which is the last town outside of Zion Canyon. Since we weren’t sure we would make it all the way there and not just stay in Vegas, we hadn’t booked rooms. We arrived only to find rooms were going for $175-$200 per room (of the two places we stopped at. The cheaper one was a locally owned type place and the other was a large chain) NOT fun! Since we need two rooms for our crowd of 7, we hopped on the wifi in the parking lot and booked more reasonable rooms at $126 (for two rooms) back the way we came in the town of Hurricane. Since it was a holiday weekend we were very fortunate to not be stranded, everything was pretty packed out. Needless to say we booked the next nights rooms in the next city as soon as we checked in that night

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Day #2: Got up early, packed up, had free breakfast included at the hotel and were on the road at about 7:30. One really great feature about this park is the bus that takes you to a bunch of scenic views and trail heads. We optioned to buy the inter agency pass, which is an annual pass for all the National Parks at $80, instead of the one day pass for $30. Since we were going to visit Bryce Canyon the next day and usually make it to 1-2 other parks during the year, we just went for it. After entering the park, we parked the van and got some warm clothes on. We then boarded the bus and stayed on for the entire loop, to get a feel for the area and sights. The bus driver and recorded information tells a little history of the park and other interesting facts. We spotted lots of mule deer the entire day which was extra fun for the littles

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Back on the bus we headed to the end of the loop to the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava bus stop. This easy 2.2 mile walk (the park website says it takes about 1 1/2 hours) takes you to the entrance of the Narrows hike, which takes you through the canyon walking in the river. How awesome is that! Of course that 8 mile hike is just too long for our littles at this age. But we got to watch lots of waterproof clad folks headed up that way. What we loved about this park was the up close feel. Walking between the canyon cliffs were pretty amazing. Hubbs and I agreed we preferred it to viewing, say the Grand Canyon from the rim

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The Riverside Walk Trail¬†is very easy for all ages, no climbing and its a paved, easy to follow path. Very enjoyable to not have to worry about someone falling off the edge. We were among many visitors to the park that weekend, plenty of people around but it was not too overcrowded. We were very happy to see lots of fellow ‘home grown’ tourists out in nature enjoying our beautiful country

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 Azure at the mouth of the Narrows Trail

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Silly fun by the Virgin River on the Riverside Walk Trail

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Check out all those gorgeous cliffs. The colors were stunning!

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After the this hike we stopped off at the van for lunch and boy was the parking situation crowded! At least 10 people asked us if we were leaving, and lots of other people were circling trying to find parking. Good thing there is a shuttle pick up in the town of Springdale too if you don’t manage to snag a spot in the park.¬†After lunch the buses were so crowded (they are taking all park visitors around as no private vehicles are allowed) we decided to walk from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Zion Human History Museum which was a short mostly flat, paved walk which is part of the¬†Pa‚Äôrus Trail

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By the afternoon it was getting a little foggy and we were glad we brought winter jackets. Yeah, I know we are cold sensitive Californians

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We were spoiled by the beautiful fall colors and river views

After checking out a bit of the museum and Azure picking up his Junior Ranger booklet, we divided forces. A couple of less than outdoor enthusiastic big boys took littlest brother for a much needed nap and settled in the van with snacks and books

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The smaller troop of Azure (age 7) and our oldest, Alvin (age 16) were still happy to accompany Mom and Dad for another approximately 2 hour hike that was a little more challenging. ¬†First we made the short walk on the Weeping Rock Trail. Nothing too amazing. The whole park for me was all about the views, rather than the ‘sites’ to arrive at

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The Kayenta Trail has a great view of the Virgin River from a height

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We walked around that huge mountain following the river

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The Lower Emerald Pools Trail leads through a canyon crack. COOL!

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The Kayenta Trail, which starts at The Grotto bus stop is more of a hike. It’s not paved, there are steep drop offs and the trail is a little narrow it places. I was glad that littlest brother (age 4) sat this one out, while he could have made the hike, we would have had to move slower and held his hand to feel comfortable. The trail continues on to the Lower Emerald Pools Trail. Maybe, it was just the time of year (Late November 2015) there wasn’t much water in the pools or coming over the falls, it wasn’t very interesting or too picturesque to me. But the views of the hike were totally amazing and we enjoyed every bit of it

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Azure took part of the Junior Ranger program and was sworn in and given a badge by the ranger after completing a Zion National Park booklet. He was real excited to earn another badge after receiving one at the  Grand Canyon National Park earlier this year

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At Zion we felt like we got to see a good portion of the park and didn’t feel like we were missing out on most of the sites/things to do. Even though there were plenty of longer and more difficult trails we didn’t get to take,I really liked that this park didn’t seem so huge it was overwhelming. Like, say Yellowstone did to me

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I can’t believe we have lived within a day drive of this place and had never been. Get out and explore guys! Our country is SO amazingly beautiful

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One final picture I took while driving out in the evening. TOO much gorgeousness.

What did you do for the holidays this year?

Family Fun Adventure: Lake Gregory, CA

 

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Hey Everyone, here is a post from a¬†Family Fun Adventure back in mid June to Lake Gregory, which is located about a 15 minute drive from Lake Arrowhead, CA. We booked the North Shore Campground in advance for two nights online for $22.00 a night plus an online booking fee. We didn’t stay on any special holiday weekend and there was plenty of space available. The campground was basic, the bathrooms were clean and the camp host was friendly. It was so very dusty and HOT at this time of year! Thankfully, there are trees for shade although we didn’t spend much time at the camp during the day. We did not end up doing half the hiking we had planned, as it was WAY too hot and all that prickly dried grass that gets stuck in your socks…No thanks!

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The first day we drove up and went to check out Lake Gregory to see if we’d like to come back and spend the next day there. Since it cost $6 for parking, $6 for beach entrance, $7 for the splash island times our large family…we wanted to see if it was worth the money! Thank God for this lake option, the heat was intense for us coastal dwellers. After finding parking roadside, hiking around the lake on a nice tree shaded¬†2.5 mile loop was very scenic and relaxing. Soon¬†we found some porta pottys and¬† locals to ask directions to the beach. The trail path is nice and wide (in most parts) and well maintained. All ages can easily¬†make it, but probably no jogging stroller unless you are willing to carry it up some steps and a few inclines. For the most part the trail is by the lake, but the places around the beach area takes you up by the road way. Not the nicest, but not too bad either. I still really enjoyed this walking path and would have loved to jog it. You pass by all these little coves and fishing spots, perfect for a private picnic

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A few silly characters hanging around

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After hiking around the lake we headed to the campground to set up for the evening and ended up with enough time to take a short hike around the campground trails. We found some whooper pine cones that were bigger than pineapples! Azure was very impressed with them and insisted on carrying a couple back to camp in spite of the thorny edges

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The next morning we headed into Lake Arrowhead village to feed the ducks. You can buy bags of duck feed for .50 cents from several stores near the waterfront. Sadly, Lake Arrowhead is a private lake, that means no swimming for visitors….so we fed the ducks and grabbed a couple extra bags to feed the ducks and fish at Lake Gregory as we noticed they had some ducks there too. Call me crazy, but feeding ducks are one of the simple happy memories in my childhood. There was always a new duck pond to visit, however where we currently live, not so much! Actually, I haven’t found one closer than an hour drive away. Bananas, I know. I made sure to cash in on the opportunity

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Then we were off to Lake Gregory. This seems to be the happening place for the town and its visitors. It certainly had a bunch of people so it didn’t feel very relaxing. But, it was a great place to cool down and keep the kids entertained. There are also a couple giant slides, all manner of water crafts for rent, fishing and a remote control boat area too

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One suggestion that I have is to first pay the entrance fee and have the kids test the water. Our kids found it quite cold in spite of the numerous others that didn’t. If your kids are more picky, which our kids REALLY aren’t, you may want to just have them wade instead. We paid the splash island fee for the 4 older ones. However, our six year old who swims very well and loves water was a bit too cold at first and then too nervous to swim all the way out to the floating inflatables. My older kids said it would be too difficult for him to pull himself up on to the play structures and that it was even tough for them. In the end our six year old played on the kiddie inflatables near shore that are FREE instead. Unless an adult is going to accompany a younger child, it might be too much for them. In the above photos you can see the yellow divider that separates the FREE kiddie floaties from the PAID splash park.

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There is only a couple FREE floaties for the littles, but our guys were happy to play on them for a few hours. The beach, well it left a lot to be desired ūüôā Bring your own shade, chairs and blankets to sit lakeside. Otherwise, there is plenty of covered picnic tables near the entrance and they allowed picnic lunches inside the beach area. If you head past the swimming area there are a ton of huge gold/black/orange/red fish! They took a few minutes to start eating, but when they did they came right up close to shore and they loved the ducky food we brought

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¬†Now lets talk about money value for a minute. Paying for parking, you pretty much gotta do it with kids. Cost:$6.00 all day. Not bad in my book. Lake side entrance x 7 family members = $42.00. This didn’t make me happy, since really nice, non crowded beaches are FREE where we are from. Splash island park x 4 kids = $28.00. Not a bad price. They had plenty of restrooms and lifeguards on duty

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Towards the late afternoon the water got quite crowded and the splash island enjoyers had to take 30 minute shifts. Which wasn’t the coolest since you are paying quite a bit in all, but it worked out ok for us ¬†since we had already been there for a couple hours in the morning before it got too crowded. This lake went from the maybe list, to being pretty much all of the list because of the weather. Of course, being in the mountains, its a summer only activity. I hope your family is making some wonderful memories this summer