Family Fun Adventure: Bryce Canyon National Park

IMG_2377

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

IMG_2451

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

IMG_2348

IMG_2342

IMG_2453

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

IMG_2420

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

IMG_2450

 The contrasting colors were vibrant and unbelievably stunning

IMG_2369

IMG_2363

IMG_2353

IMG_2437

Winter wonderland definitely added a extra fun element

IMG_2433

IMG_2429

IMG_2344

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

IMG_2410

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

IMG_2395

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

IMG_2396

IMG_2384

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

IMG_2329

IMG_2422

IMG_2392

IMG_2373

IMG_2448

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

IMG_2341

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

IMG_2455

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

 2015-11-28 09.24.23

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?

Advertisements

Family Fun Adventure: Zion National Park

IMG_20151127_181815

IMG_2255

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

IMG_2293

2015-11-27 07.52.01

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!

2015-11-27 07.57.09

Happy to be outta the van and ready to hike

IMG_2230

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

IMG_2215

2015-11-27 10.06.36

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

2015-11-27 09.57.54

IMG_2236

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

IMG_2218

2015-11-27 09.31.55

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

IMG_2249

IMG_2242

 Azure at the mouth of the Narrows Trail

IMG_2239

Silly fun by the Virgin River on the Riverside Walk Trail

IMG_2286

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

2015-11-27 09.44.01

IMG_2285

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

IMG_2295

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

IMG_2290

IMG_2284

IMG_2289

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

2015-11-27 13.20.08

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

IMG_2282

IMG_2304

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

IMG_2308

We walked around that huge mountain following the river

2015-11-27 13.41.41

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

2015-11-27 13.51.44

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

-769259237

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

IMG_2292

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

IMG_2298

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

IMG_20151127_232752

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: Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park

 IMG_20140712_115623



We have visited Sequoia National Park several times in the last couple of years and love this amazing place. On this trip up north we thought we’d explore Kings Canyon National Park. And boy were we rewarded with gorgeous views, shady hikes and refreshing dips into cool mountain streams. Once again, for some reason I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that a place that gets real snowy in the mountains to be so blazin’ hot in the summer, but yeah, it was! Thank goodness there was opportunity for the kids to cool off, get clean, break up the drive and in general recover from grouchy moods that seem to settle when you are hot, bored and stuck in a van with your annoying brothers :). Just keeping it real. We definitely have those struggles too! Here are some of the pics we snapped along the way

    IMG_1567IMG_1564

 

  There are plenty of different trails varying in difficulty. Certainly some thing for everyone of any size. We started out walking the General Grant Trail, which is wide and easy to follow (see above left picture) with the littlest turkey determined to carry the water pack the entire hike. Such a funny fellow. It barely fit on his shoulders and was almost touching the ground, but he HAD to carry it

IMG_1559     IMG_20140725_104742

IMG_1574IMG_20140725_104642

Check out this massive hollowed out tree trunk called the Fallen Monarch. This naturally¬†fire burned trunk was used as a camping shelter by a couple of logging brothers by the name of Gamlin while they built themselves a cabin¬†back in 1872! It’s still intact and¬†doesn’t look like its¬†decomposed at all since then. The kids are running the length of it in the above photo

  IMG_1602IMG_1603

Next we hit up the Big Stump Trail and here are some photos we took along the way. The trail is again, quite easy for kids. It is a real dirt trail, not like the paved General Grant Loop. There are restrooms and water fountains at the trail head

IMG_1568     IMG_1594     20140712_153550

Some giant trees! One of the kids favorite things to pose in…a hollow trunk, we could barely pass a single one without taking a pic. Above: A stump that reminded me of a fairy castle or fortress

20140712_160452     20140712_145445     20140712_145314

Left: Azure beside a downed tree trunk, he was about 1/2 as tall as the width. Trees always make a hike more enjoyable to me. It was very hot in spite of the shade and after making it to the Shattered Giant (see below) we turned around and headed back to the van in search of a way to cool off

     IMG_20140725_104103     IMG_20140725_104445

Left: Hubbs and Azure in the meadow of the Mark Twain Stump Right: All 5 monkeys on a giant stump

IMG_1618

Hmmm, and some reason I failed to get a picture of the kids on¬†THE BIG stump named The Mark Twain Stump…anyhow its massive! It was cut down and a cross section sent to put be on display at the Natural History Museum New York where it¬†is still on display today. The Shattered Giant looks like the tree fell and well, shattered. The kids got to climb over it and by now were getting a bit¬†hangry

IMG_20140713_193919     IMG_20140725_104406

The little munchkin needed some carrying from Dad and biggest brother even stepped in. He took all the hair pulling in relative good spirits

IMG_1728     IMG_1667

IMG_1671      IMG_1664

Picnic spot at Grizzly Falls. Boy, are you spoiled for choice of gorgeous views up here. It seems this is kind of a dry year (July 2014) by the looks of the falls. The parking area is super close to the waterfall. There are also picnic tables and outhouse facilities

IMG_20140725_104013    IMG_1624

After lunch we were off to explore before dinner. We found out about Hume Lake. There is a big private camp at the lake and we weren’t sure if visitors were allowed on the beach itself. I didn’t think to ask…I guess I was tired at that point ūüôā That’s the story I’m going with anyways. After parking at the day use area (there are a couple picnic tables, bbq grills and outhouses) and walking a short distance along Hume Lake Trail until we found a little clearing in the trees for the kids to take a dip

IMG_1630     IMG_1633

The water was on the cold side in the evening so they only splashed for about half an hour

IMG_1679     IMG_1676

Day 2 after breaking up camp, we headed to along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway for the views! Wowza

IMG_1689      IMG_1699

After a few hours it was time to turn around and start heading towards Sequoia National Park and homeward. But first, time to cool off in the South Fork of the Kings River. There were plenty of families enjoying the water in various places, so we drove around a bit until we found a spot without crowds

IMG_1705      IMG_1701

It was cold. But after a few numbing minutes it wasn’t too bad the kids told me. Not a chance I was getting in, so I was the picture taker

IMG_1710     IMG_1698

Daddy was a dear and got a little wet to keep track of the baby monkey. The river was a bit swift in spots

IMG_1712     IMG_1715

Sitting on a log at the waters edge watching the kids play made me dream of one day having a property near water. What a wonderful paradise for a kid

IMG_1695     IMG_1690

At this point we started to make our way towards Sequoia National Park…only to¬†get wet again!

IMG_1735      IMG_1733      IMG_1744

One last short splash stop at Lodge Pole Campground where they let us park for free day use (We just asked the ranger, otherwise park at the visitor center and walk a bit). There was plenty of little areas of the river to wade in, since it was SO hot, there were a lot of other people with the same idea in mind. The bigger kids went further upstream to some natural slides and a deeper pools that were quite crowded while littlest monkey stayed to throw ‘rockies’ in the water and try to catch some small fish

And this long post wraps up our latest Family Fun Adventure!

Family Fun Adventure: Los Padres National Forest

Family Fun Adventure: Los Padres National Forest

Hey Lovelies, Here is a little write up from our latest small family adventure here in California. On long weekends and school breaks we try to make it a point to go somewhere a little different then our usual same … Continue reading