Hidden Gem In Moab

The great thing about living in Utah is that I feel we never run out of new adventures.  We are always discovering new favorite places and it is so fun!

Our most recent trip to Moab included exploring Hunter Canyon and it did not disappoint.  We were in desert heaven and we had the place practically to ourselves.  That’s saying a lot because we went over Fall break and Arches National Park was a zoo.  Finding solitude in nature is so refreshing but it’s not always easy in a popular place like Moab.

I feel like I don’t even need to describe this place.  The pictures speak for themselves.  We didn’t do the whole hike because it got dark, but we could have easily spent all day here.  Next time you’re in Moab check it out!

You do have to take a dirt road to get to the trail head, but it’s doable with most cars.  I just had my Honda Civic and we did fine.

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy-Moderate. 3 miles round trip and very little elevation gain.  Lots of sand to play in, rocks to climb and tunnels to explore.

Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Trail

We travel to St George quite often since we have family in St George as well as in Las Vegas.  We are usually there for just a quick extended weekend adventure  here and there so we are always left with more to come back too.  This last Christmas break we were there for a few days and had the chance to try out a new trail at Zion National Park.

Canyon Overlook Trail

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate (1 mile round trip, uphill climb at the beginning, some drop offs and cliff areas, watch your young ones closely!)

This is a nice short trail that is unique and ends with stunning views of the canyon.  There are cliff and drop off areas, so for very young children you will want to carry them.  My 6 year old did great on his own.

Arches National Park

We had a chance to visit Arches National Park this February and all I can tell you is that my kids were absolutely in love.  I’ve always loved this park and it was fun to see it differently through the eyes of my children.  I have a good friend who lives in New Mexico and the other day we found out that Moab, UT was the half way point between us.  What better reason to plan a fun weekend getaway.  Just moms and kiddos this time (2 days,2 moms, 5 kids 7 and under).  Needless to say things were crazy, but we had a blast.  I hope these kids cherish these memories, I know I will.

Here is a link to the current Arches National Park guide.  This park is so family/kid friendly.  You’ll notice that there are 7 trails 1 mile round trip or less and 3 trails 1-2 miles roundtrip!  Don’t worry, there are also some great longer/harder trails too.  The drive through the park is a gorgeous scenic drive and you’ll feel like you hundreds of miles from civilization (you kind of are).  You’ll also probably feel like you took a trip in the time machine back to when dinosaurs roamed the red rock.

wp-1487903383426.jpgThe animal statues at the visitors center were a real hit with the kids.  They were hugging and kissing them goodbye.  Awe, to be a kid again.

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Our first stop along the scenic drive through Arches NP was Park Avenue!

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Little Mountaineers Rating:  Easy Moderate (2 mile round trip, 320 ft elevation change, section of rock stairs, some rocky/sandy areas)

Picture above is majestic Park Avenue trail.  This 2 mile round trip trail is so surreal.  Don’t let the stairs scare you, they aren’t too bad!  My kids actually loved the stairs, so much that my daughter kept asking to go back to them.  You can start this trail from either end and even have someone pick you up at the end so you only do 1 mile.  Even if you don’t do the whole trail it is definitely worth the stop and the view.

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Next up was The Windows trail.  This easy trail takes you on a path to explore two large windows and Turret Arch.  While we were there we were able to see researchers in action on top of the first Window, they used parachutes to send their equipment down and rappelled off the side.  Pretty neat!

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1 mile round trip, mild climb with some areas with stairs)

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The Windows come with some pretty amazing views!

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We were lucky to be here during great weather!  Blue skies and low 60’s.  February can be hit or miss with weather.  As we were leaving it was raining which even turned to snow on the way back to Salt Lake City.

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Sibling love!  I’m glad these too get to share these memories together!

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Above you can see both the North and South Windows.

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Turret Arch is also a part of this short hike.

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The red rock desert is so stunning against those blue skies!

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After we said our goodbyes to our New Mexico friends we were getting ready to head home.  Well my children decided there was no way they wanted to head home yet.  We still had a few hours so we headed back to Arches to do a couple more trails on our own.

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Our first stop was Delicate Arch.

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate (3 mile round trip to Arch, 480 ft elevation change, multiple areas of uphill climb, steep slick rock climb area, some rocky/sandy areas, some ledges/drop offs.  No shade, this hike becomes more difficult in harsher weather conditions)

My son has a rock book he got for Christmas and there is a picture of Delicate Arch in the book.  He was eager to see it in person so we decided to head out.  I knew my 3 year old daughter was not going to be able to do this trail on her own, so she got to ride in our Onya Baby Pure carrier.  The guide says to give yourself 2-3 hours for the trail.  We completed this trail in under 2, partly because it wasn’t sunny or hot and apparently my son was an energizer bunny that day!  Weather can make this trail deadly.  In the summer I would advise going early in the morning or later in the evening and bringing plenty of water and snacks.  I’ve hiked this hike in August when it is extremely hot, but we did it as a sunrise hike, even then it was warm.  I loved this hike in February, it is nice not to have the heat!  This hike isn’t too long and has a few areas of uphill climb to give you that great leg workout and get your heart pumping, but I don’t consider it an extremely difficult hike which is why I gave it a moderate rating.  I would definitely plan on carrying your baby/toddler/preschooler age child and make sure you rest when needed especially during the steep climbs.

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Different rock formations to see along this trail!

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Once you see this little window you know you are almost there!

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Delicate Arch!  Even more stunning in person.  My son’s reaction when he rounded that last corner was priceless.  He was truly in awe and couldn’t believe how big it was in real life.  He was such an amazing hiker this trip!   It’s so fun to watch them grow and learn.

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It always seems a little windy near the arches.  Guess that makes sense.  Here is our lovely windy Delicate Arch selfie.

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If you don’t think you are ready to tackle this hike you can still take your kids to see the cool rock art panel, it is at the start of the trail and doesn’t require any uphill climb.

We decided to tackle another quick trail before we headed home so we headed over to Skyline Arch.

Little Mountaineers Rating:  Easy (.4 mile round trip flat and sandy areas)

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Of course whenever my kids see rocks/boulders they have to climb them.

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Just like pretty much everywhere we go, we left wanting more.  Moab has so much to offer, even more than just Arches National Park.  We only touched on a few of the trails this post but I can’t wait to share more later on.  We only spent 2 days here this time, but it was definitely worth it, there is so much to see even in a short period of time.  Happy hiking!

Check out our little bonus adventure below!

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You thought dinosaurs were extinct…well not in Moab!  We decided to take all the kiddos to Moab Giants Dinosaur Park after our long drives to let them play and get some energy out before we checked into our motel.  We didn’t pay for the museum or any of the indoor stuff, we just did the Dinosaur Trail to see all dinosaur statues and there is also a playground area for kids to play on.  To do this portion of the park it is 12$ for kids 4 and older and 16$ for adults.  The dinosaur statues were really cool, and looked liked they fit right in with stunning Moab as the backdrop.

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Winter at Zion with ZionAdventurePhotog

Upper Emerald Pools Trail

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate (2.2 mile round trip to upper falls, 436 ft elevation change, uphill climb, some rocky/sandy areas)

We have visited Zion National Park during every season except for winter.  So last month when we were traveling to Southern Utah over Christmas break we decided to check it out!  We had the lovely opportunity to meet Arika with ZionAdventurePhotog and had her follow us around on our hike to Emerald Pools and capture our experience!  You guys, this was seriously the best idea ever!  We loved our experience.  Check out her website HERE and check her out on Facebook and Instagram @ZionAdventurePhotog.

When we first heard about Arika and what she does, we were very intrigued.  I mean who wouldn’t want unique high quality photos adventuring with those you love?  You’ll see how she took a mix of candid and slightly posed shots of us as we conquered the trail with our family.  I never had to worry about taking pictures or hoping to get a decent selfie.  We got to enjoy the scenery and each other as she worked her magic making our memories last forever.

If you have never been to Zion or have and want your memories captured in a unique way, I definitely recommend going through ZionAdventurePhotog!  It would also be an awesome unique gift for someone who loves to adventure with their family.

We are happy to report that we definitely recommend Zion in the winter!  With recent rain the waterfalls were in full force, and the misty cliffs and cloudy overcast skies were a dream.  Temps were in the 40’s and comfortable with light layers.  During the winter, Zion Canyon is open to cars (yay no waiting for shuttles!) which makes it really convenient for families.  You can drive to the stops you want, and can leave whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry about shuttle crowds or schedules.  It is also less crowded this time of year!  We only had a day here this short trip, but we were glad we scheduled some Zion time.  Find more info below!

Zion National Park Website

Zion Winter Map & Guide

EMERALD POOLS TRAIL (PHOTOS BY ZIONADVENTUREPHOTOG)

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Winter at Snow Canyon

While we have really been enjoying the snow around here, sometimes it is fun to escape during the winter and head south to slightly warmer weather.  During winter break last month we decided to escape the snow and inversion and head down to St George.

While the St George area is very well known for it’s proximity to Zion National Park, not everyone knows about all the other incredible State Parks and Recreational Areas that Southern Utah has to offer.  One of our favorites is Snow Canyon State Park.  We were absolutely blown away by our visit this December.  It was stunning and we practically had the whole park to ourselves.

Snow Canyon is extremely family friendly.  It is less than 15 miles from St George and it is only $6 per vehicle.  Click here for the website with even more info!

This park is perfect for kids of all ages.  There are sand dunes to play in, mini slot canyons, petrified sand dunes, moss covered canyon walls, red rock, white rock, climbing opportunities and volcanoes!  There are so many short trails which are great for the younger ones!  No need to worry about hauling your kids miles and miles to get to something interesting.  If you are up for longer and more challenging trails, you’ll find them here too, there is something for every level.  You will find something unique around every corner.

December temps were in the upper 40’s when we went and it was perfectly enjoyable.  We stayed all afternoon and even had a picnic lunch.  We left with the longing to return, and can’t wait until next time.  Below I’ve highlighted a few of the trails.  Enjoy!

Link to park brochure and trail guide.

JENNY’S CANYON TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (.5 mile round trip, sandy trail with some rocks)

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PIONEER NAMES TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (.5 miles roundtrip, sandy trail with some rocks, rock scaling up to the actual name carvings is not easy)

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PETRIFIED DUNES TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1.2 miles round trip, some steeps slopes/uneven surfaces)

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WHITE ROCKS AMPHITHEATER TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1 mile round trip, some steep/rocky slopes and uneven surfaces)

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Zion National Park

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Lower Emerald Pool Trail:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1.2 mile round trip to lower emerald pool/waterfall, paved trail)

Weeping Rock Trail:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (.4 mile round trip, 173 ft elevation gain so some steep parts and minor drop offs)

Riverside Walk:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (2.2 mile round trip to river narrows, mostly flat, paved trail)

Last spring we took our kids on their first trip to Zion National Park.  We were only going to be there 1 day so we kept it super easy.  You drive through Zion Canyon on a shuttle bus that has 9 stops.  There are many family friendly hiking and walking trails.  We ended up doing 3 hikes that day.  We decided to do the Lower Emerald Pool Trail, Weeping Rock Trail and Riverside Walk.  We also stopped at many of the scenic stops and lookouts along the way.  The trails we hiked were beautiful, mostly paved and easy to navigate, but there are a lot of tourists since it is very popular.  I can’t wait to go back and try some of the less traveled and more difficult hikes.  I also want to hike The Narrows with my kids when they are older.   It was a dreary day with a light drizzle of rain, but it was beautiful and my kids did really well.  They were exhausted by the end of the day of course!  I feel like Zions gives you beautiful scenery and fun hiking trails without you feeling like you are out in the middle of the wilderness, so I think it is perfect for families and beginner hikers.  You have easy access to modern amenities and the paved trails and railings help even the youngest of hikers. On the flip side there are more wilderness type hikes and strenuous options for those looking for that as well.   You could easily spend several days here or make a good day trip like we did.

Here is the link to Zion National Park website.

DSC_0594DSC_0636DSC_067120150425_15063720150425_142619My son loved Weeping Rock and was trying to catch droplets of water in his mouth.20150425_15133620150424_152523The Lower Emerald Pool features this water cascading off of the cliff above.20150425_152729Riverside Walk trail ends at the start of The Narrows, it’s quite majestic and the kids loved playing in the water and on the rocks.  However, we couldn’t manage to take a normal family picture here.  Don’t mind our awkward facial expressions.DSC_067520150424_150301This girl was 18 months and was barely taking a few steps (she was a very late walker) so I carried her all day.  Lot’s of people laughed at how funny she looked in my little carrier with her super long legs.20150424_15284020150425_15133920150424_153035Another angle of Lower Emerald Pool.

 

Bryce Canyon-Winter Hiking

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Navajo Loop:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1.3 mile loop, 550ft elevation change, some steep climb.  Not always accessible during the winter, snow/ice will require extra equipment/precaution and will bump my rating up to Moderate during those conditions)

Rim Trail (Sunrise to Sunset):

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1 mile round trip, paved mostly flat.  Not always accessible during the winter, snow/ice will require extra equipment/precaution)

I’m not the biggest fan of winter, I’ll admit it.  My 6-year-old went on a snowshoeing field trip this winter and loved it, which got me thinking that maybe some winter hiking wouldn’t be too bad.  So in February we decided to try some winter hiking and it was a big hit.  I’m actually looking forward to next winter and trying out some more winter hiking and snowshoeing.

Here in Utah, winter can mean terrible air quality.  We can get inversions that last for days and weeks.  Pair that with freezing cold temperatures and you might as well hibernate for the winter!  Luckily once you get out of the valley you can reach some clear air and sunny skies.  During a particular bad week in February we decided to ditch the inversion for the weekend and head south for an adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park and Escalante.

It was sunny, the air was clear, and temperatures during the day were 50’s and 60’s.  It felt amazing!

Hiking on snow can be tricky.  You definitely need snow boots or winter hiking boots.  These need to have good tread and they also need to be warm and waterproof, especially for kids to keep them comfortable.  You can use spike attachments to add to your shoes or use snowshoes and skis depending on where you go as well.  A beautiful sunny day may get you excited for some hiking, but it brings its own risks.  Warmer temps and sunshine can make it harder to navigate snow making it more slick and slippery.  So when you attempt any winter hiking, please be careful!  It is also important to remember hydration and even sunscreen in the winter, sometimes we forget these things since it isn’t summer but they are still important!

Bryce Canyon was absolutely breathtaking in the winter.  I can’t wait to go back, and also go visit in the warmer months too.  Not all the hiking trails are completely open, so you kind of just have to be flexible.  We hiked parts of the Rim trail that was open and also parts of the Navajo trail.  I only did the part of the Navajo trail with my 6-year-old though, I didn’t feel quite comfortable enough to bring my 2-year-old down the icy decent.  I felt like Bryce Canyon was really kid friendly in general, however winter hiking isn’t probably the best for beginners.  My kids did really great overall, but they have quite a bit of experience.  In the late spring and summer when the snow melts there will be more kid friendly hiking options with several easy and moderate trail options.  The viewpoints are breathtaking, I’m glad we made the trip this winter.  I consider Bryce Canyon a must see if you ever come visit Utah, or if you live in Utah and haven’t ever been then you really need to visit!

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