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?

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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: Rose Valley Falls Trail, Ojai CA


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Today’s Family Fun Adventure post is from Rose Valley Falls Trail near Ojai, CA. Lately our weekends have been pretty filled up with birthday parties, track meets and other miscellaneous busy stuff. Other than our weekly beach trips we haven’t found the time to go in search of adventure. So I was delighted when quite spontaneously the Hubbs suggested this place. Unbeknownst to him, its been on my pinterest board for quite some time now.

The Rose Valley Falls Trail is off of the 33 past Ojai and located in the Los Padres National Forest

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The trail head you are looking for is located inside the Rose Valley Campground. Just outside the campground is the day use parking area, which is just a thin shoulder on the road in front of a bulletin board. After a short walk through the tiniest campground ever (I think there is 9 camping sites. So cutesy!) You will see the sign for the falls trail. There is a vault toilet available, but bring your own drinking water as there isn’t any

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Keep in mind this place is at 3,450 thousand feet. We left the sunny coast and within an hour it was overcast, rainy and even hailed! All but Daddy were immediately freezing cold and didn’t feel like the hike would be enjoyable in the cold. Turns out we were fine and warmed up within a few minutes of walking and it was actually was a very nice change from normally being SO hot when we hike

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The nice shady half mile trail was an easy walk for the littles and we pasted at least five families with little kids. I think you could manage a stroller easily except for a two spots where there was some puddling

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L: Follow the Leader on the trail R: Some huge fancy mushrooms

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The moss covered falls had some water running in February

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Very peaceful

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L: A little adventurer R: The stream leading away from the falls

Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a family photo due to a couple people taking their sweet time getting lots of pictures in…the older kids got tired of waiting. Truthfully, they were tired of the walk before we started. Teenagers!

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L: A small waterfall downstream will a few little splash pools. I wonder if there is enough water in the summer? R: Another shot of the big falls. The water comes down all over the the rock, instead of one big stream. All the moss gave it a wild jungle-y feel

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 The view from a hill on a different trail that starts by the bulletin board outside the campground. Beautiful country! I would definitely suggest this short hike for some good, free family fun. I want to come back during warmer weather and see if the water is still running in the summer

Family Fun Adventure: Cozy Dell Trail Ojai, CA

 

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Hey Again Lovelies, Today I’m sharing a Family Fun Adventure: Cozy Dell Trail hike in Ojai, CA. Originally we were trying to hike to Matilija Dam in Ojai. For some reason we could not find any roads or trails to this lake! If any locals know the secret to getting there, please share! Anyhoo, since we couldn’t find any way to get to the lake we came across the Cozy Dell Trail on highway 150. We hiked this on Mother’s Day, May 11th this year.

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¬†¬†Left: Here is the trail sign on the left side of the road, where you park and carefully cross the highway Right: This is the sign on the trail side of the road. This trail isn’t jogger stroller¬†friendly¬†and¬†there are no restrooms. We found the trail really nice and easy for the little guys (6 and 3 years) that being said, we only hiked about a mile and a half this time. The ground was dry, but it was made of clay, so after a rain there will definitely be lots of mud. The trail is lovely and half shaded¬†on the portion we travelled, it was well maintained and easy to follow. There were tons of native wildflowers out¬†to be enjoyed along the way. They smelled lovely too.

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Some of the characters that were along for the hike

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I’m really not sure how long this trail is, some reviews say 3-4.5 miles. We made it to the first marker (see picture below), maybe it was the only one as some people mentioned the lack of them. We saw lots of bees, lizards and two snakes. Thankfully, that was all! I read that some saw bear tracks and even a bear. Yikes! I would not think a bear would like this area, its hot and dry, not like the cooler lush forests you normally think of. Maybe I just don’t know what to look for, as I’m always nervous about large wildlife and look for tracks. Anyway, just a heads up.

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This is where we stopped to rest and turn around. There were about 7-10 cars parked at the street and we met a few hikers along the way. Not enough to feel crowded, but enough to make you feel a bit safer should you need help. In any case be sure to bring water, snacks, discuss safety with your kids and tell someone where you are going.

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We decided to do some camping this summer, since we haven’t been in probably 7 years and all the kids can hike with¬†their own legs.¬†We got the tents and a little stove and made our first camping trip¬†to the Big Sur area up north. BEE-U-TI-FULL!!! Post coming soon. Get out and enjoy the great outdoors this summer ya’lls. What adventures do you have planned?