Friday, May 18, 2018

36 Hours in Torrey

Torrey, Utah
(aka Capitol Reef National Park land)

What to Do:

If you have followed the 36 Hours series at all, you know that we are a hiking family. And so as I was researching things to do in Torrey and saw that we could go on a hike with llamas, it was a no-brainer! We showed up a bit early which was just fine because we got to sit on these rocking chairs watching the llamas get loaded up and their packs on. 

We took five llamas on the guided hike with us - but now that we know how gentle and easy llamas are, I would totally use them for an overnight pack trip. Even our littlest child - he is 3 years old - loved walking the llamas! It was like walking a well behaved dog.

We crossed a little marsh and then headed out in the Capitol Reef country.

We went up and down a few hills to get to the best spot for snacks and water before heading back. 

Look how those llamas just follow at a perfect distance. 

Along the dry wash, Adam, our guide showed us some really interesting rocks like this ripple stone. I am so glad he pointed out pieces of the landscape that we would have never noticed on our own!

There were even log bridges to cross on during this hike which was a definite highlight for these kids!

Wilderness Ridge Trail llamas are a stellar business that really showcase how beautiful Capitol Reef is and to let one just enjoy hiking without carrying the weight. Plus, each of my children wanted to take their own llama home! 

Where to Stay:

Have you ever wondered what it was like for those early pioneers who crossed the plains and made their wagons their home? Well, we got to experience it on a grand scale! We stayed at the Broken Spur Inn actually in conestoga wagons. Now, these wagons have all the modern convenience of a hotel room, but the charm of glamping!

Each wagon had a crazy comfy king sized bed, bunk beds, a futon that pulled out to a full sized bed, and a microwave and fridge. We slept so soundly in these.

Oh, there was even a heater/air conditioning unit which came in handy because the first night had a slight chill to the air! Broken Spur really thought of how to make these wagons so comfortable!

The king size bed's headboard was the driver seat! I, mean, come on! How awesome is that?! 

There was even a fantastic playground for the kids to play on. And you can see the bath house in the background - each cabin had their own bathroom (with lock and key). 

The pool was incredible! It was large, heated and it has a retractable ceiling and walls for the summer months! 

Where to Eat (if it had been open):

We cannot wait to go back and eat here! The atmosphere was just so much fun! There was a family-friendly bar area with saddles as the bar stools which served soda pop! WHAT?! And there was a drop down dance floor for line dancing! And a REAL conestoga wagon with dress up clothes for kids to play. 

The outdoor patio was outfitted with tvs and a fireplace, but I can pretty much guarantee that the view of the mountains will be what everyone will be looking at! 

We all loved the way our friends, Francine and Gary, made this a great hang out for every age. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

36 Hours in Zion National Park

To Stay:

We've all seen those dreamy pictures of camping in the lap of luxury and imagined how amazing it would be to wake up in a place like this.  At Under Canvas Zion you can seriously make it happen! It's really all the best parts of camping without any of the fuss.  Big comfy beds, cots and complimentary sleeping bags for kids, an amazing restaurant with free s'mores provided at firepits all over the Unde Canvas site, even hot showers!  All while basking in the beauty of Zion National Park.  

Each canvas tent has a commanding view of Zion National Park land and worries just melt away as you sit on your personal porch taking it all in!

The beds are big and the Casper mattresses are crazy comfy! We slept like kings/queens each night. It was a real treat after long days of playing hard, to fall into these beds!

We have large families and Under Canvas Zion has figured out a way for that: teepees!

Our teepee was adjacent to our tent and had cots and sleeping bags and lanterns. The kids LOVED sleeping in a teepee!

Near the communal fire pit area, there were these super cool swings which the kids spent hours in.

Each morning, the kids ate breakfast on the porch just chilling.

We utilized the grills and picnic tables for our meals. And an added bonus was the dads did the cooking/grilling! 

Isn't this view beautiful??

To Eat:

Whiptail Grill is located right at the entrance of Zion National Park in Springdale and is renovated vintage gas station. There isn't a bad view from place, but the best part was the food! Holy cow! We ordered kids meals for the kids and snacked on their stuff while we waited for ours. We honestly could have just ordered off the kids menu and have been as happy as can be.  Trust us when we say that the kids bean burrito is to die for! 

Everything was out of this world.  From the multi colored chips to the crispy bean burrito to the filet mignon carne asada!

Mahi mahi fish tacos and the accompanying salad had the yummiest avocado vinagarette dressing.

Yes, that mountain directly behind the restaurant is the WatchTower! Amazing!

To Do:

4 wheeling is always a good time, a trip highlight, but Mild to Wild Rhino Tours really takes it over the top.  Everyone gets a black bandana and cool shades and then we piled in.  "Mild to Wild" is a perfect description of our tour. We followed Buddy, our guide, up the dirt road to Gooseberry Mesa and stopped to take pictures of the views along the way.  Then he switched us all into 4 wheel drive and the tour turned "wild". Nose diving and leaning up of our sides and splashing through puddles.  Such a fun ride!   

This is the drive up to Gooseberry Mesa...we were sure glad to be four-wheeling on this bumpy, steep road!

World class views the entire way up, down, and all around!

Mild to Wild Rhino Tours has an impressive fleet of off-road vehicles. We actually decided to go with them because they have several 6-seaters; so if you have a large group (like we do), it saves money to rent less atvs.

For slightly more adventure, we signed up for canyoneering with Rock Odysseys. We lucked out and had the most adorable climbing guide ever, Gabby, and a stellar climber/guide, Erez.  Rock Odysseys provided harnesses and helmets for each of us and took us out for a half day of canyoneering.  These kids are no strangers to rock climbing and hiking but this was really something else.  Rappelling has quickly become the favorite hobby of all these kids since our day with Rock Odysseys.  Gabby and Erez made it super simple and fun and we had the best time.

Gabby and Erez helped all of get into our harnesses correctly and adjust our was a cold and windy day. 

Then we hiked for about 20 minutes until we reached our first rappel into the canyon. 

This was our first rappel - 80 feet! It was exhilarating!

Gabby had all the kids line up with their back against the wall until it was their turn to drop down in to the slot.

With the two youngest, Gabby and Erez took them down with them...and so these little guys got the best because they did a couple of cowabunga jumps, too!

The back log of kids on our last rappel out of the canyon!

These kids have no idea how lucky they are!

And then after, Gabby and Erez helped us OUT of our harnesses and gave us pointers on beginning canyoneering as a family hobby! This is was the very best adventure!