Family Adventure- Our Vacation through the National Parks and Monuments of the Southwest

by MaggiePowell

A fun family road trip through Dinosaur National Park, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, including fossil Hunting and Las Vegas!

Last summer we loaded the kids into the mini-van and headed off to visit some of the National Parks and Monuments of the Southwest armed with little more than my Trip Planner, a few maps, some travel guides and our Rock Hounding equipment.

We started our family adventure in East Bay area of San Francisco Bay, in California. The kids were HUGE Dinosaur Fans, so our first big stop was Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, then south to Delta, Utah for a little Trilobite hunting. From there we went to Bryce National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, then west to Zion National Park. After all that nature, it was time for a stop in Las Vegas to clean the dust of of the kids in those fabulous swimming pools... finally, we headed back north again through Sequoia National Park, and then on to home.

It was an ambitious route for two weeks. A lot of planning went in to the success of this trip. I plotted drive time, overnight stays, and at least one excursion tailored to each person. Still, there was plenty of unscheduled time, and we also ran into some unexpected fun

I'd love to share our trip with you. (I promise it won't be like sitting through the slide show of your neighbor's vacation in snooze-ville....grin).

The first bit of this page is mostly about the planning... the details of the trip come after that. Make yourself comfy... and off we go....

Planning the Road Trip

Prior Planning Prevents Frustration

Road TripI spend a long time planning our trips... it becomes almost a part time job.

OK ... so I'm a bit obsessed. But the planning pays off.

The best way to start? Get some maps.. old fashioned paper maps. They are great! You can spread them out and trace routes with your fingers. The kids can look at the same time. You can see what else is close by. (In fact, I usually buy 2 or even 3 of the same map. One goes in to the kid's activity kit so they can follow along with a highlighter).

I am a firm believer in the accordian file to keep track of reservations, brochures, maps, confirmations, schedules, itineraries, and any articles or bits and pieces that I collect along the way. I make sure there is a space for the main plan, one for hotels, and one for special reservations we may have made. These things are stored in order so we can easily find them as we go.

If we are doing a trip through popular areas, like National Parks I try to get those reservations booked months in advance. Things book early. For example.. I was calling in March for a July trip, and most of the Park Lodges were already booked up.

You don't want to be weighed down with lots of guidebooks. Copy relevant pages and include them in your file. Look at magazine articles. Find the obscure. The web is great for that.

But... with all the planning? Be sure to allow yourself a chance to explore the unexpected. Travel with kids means being flexible. We went fishing, rode a merry-go-round, and went to the drive in movies, because we let ourselves find the unexpected.

And we loved it.

photo courtesy of

Expanding/ Accordion File

Save All Of Your Planning Paperwork in One Place
Smead Frequency Expanding Files, Waterproof and Tear Resistant Materials (70863)

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National Parks Map

I Love Maps... Pin One Up to Your Wall So Everyone Can Visualize the Trip
U. S. National Parks Wall Map

NATIONAL PARKS OF THE UNITED STATES Reference Map: National Geographic s wall map of National Parks of the United States highlights the nearly 400 magnificent parks across Ameri...

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Our Route Through the Southwest

This is the basic route... we did make lots of stops along the way

Guidebooks for the National Parks

Learn a Bit BEFORE You Go
National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 7th Edition (National Geographi...

Packed with more color photographs (380) and detailed, color maps (80) than any other parks guidebook on the market, this handy, practical, guide, completely updated for the 201...

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Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks

"More than 530 color images, 140 easy-to-read maps, and 55 hiking tables make this guide to America's most scenic wilderness areas─all 58 national parks─the most appealing, comp...

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Packing for a Road Trip

Room for People and their Stuff

The biggest challenge of this trip was getting the then 3 kids into the mini van with all their stuff. I had to plan it carefully, and I had to stick with a strict plan.

Everyone was issued a packing list, and their own travel bag for clothes that would be stored on top of the car in the carrier. The kids were allowed a small bag of personal supplies (game players, books, music players) that would be allowed in the car.

I packed one box for activity supplies... it was big enough to hold- paper, crayons, markers, scissors, extra maps, stickers, decks of cards, and dvds. It had a flat top so the kids could use it as a travel table.

We had one bigger Rubbermaid storage box for our Rockhound Tool Kit . Inside the box we put our rock picks, eye protection, gloves, a strainer, small bucket, and 2 small shovels. As we found treasures, they were wrapped in paper towel, put in a plastic bag, and stored inside the box.

Also along was a Roller Cooler . When we travel, we seldom eat lunch in a restaurant. Seriously, it's just too expensive for our clan, and the kids love to eat outside. I pack a cooler with salami and other sausage, cheese, fruit, crackers, some cookies and nuts. I also add in a plastic table cloth, a cutting board, a knife, napkins and some drinks. Most places will have a park or picnic area that we can use. I restock in local grocery stores. I know they are kind of big, but we found that by removing one of the center seats, we could put the cooler in the middle of the van, and still have seats for three kids.

We also carried a pack and play bed for the little one, detergent for laundry, diapers, a small travel stroller, a baby back pack, and a big bottle of headache meds for me.....

***For Every Trip we take... in fact, they are in the car now... I take Wet Wipes, Paper Towels, a Lantern, a knife and (most importantly) Gallon size Zip Lock bags. I could survive in the wild for weeks with just those items (throw in some goldfish crackers, and we could last months).

photo courtesy of mourgefile

Some Vital Supplies for Our Trip

A Picnic a Day Saves BIG Money Over Time
Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler, Blue

The Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler features a comfortable tow handle and large, sturdy wheels, so one person can comfortably pull it even over uneven terrain. The 40-Quart Cool...

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Blue Hill, 52"x90"; Classic Red Tavern Check, Flannel Backed, Vinyl Tablecloth; "Made in the U.S.A"

Our classic Tablecloth combines a beautiful textured, Vinyl Clover-Check pattern on the surface, with a thick layer of Skid-Proof, Polyester Flannel on the back, making it perfe...

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OXO Good Grips 7.5-Inch-by-10.5-Inch Cutting Board

Chop, dice, mince and carve on the OXO Good Grips Cutting Boards. The Boards feature soft, tapered handles for easy lifting and carrying and non-slip edges that keep the Boards ...

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Ziploc Freezer Bag, Gallon Value Pack, 30-Count

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Farberware Resin 3-Piece Set, 8-Inch Chef, 5-1/2-Inch Utility and 3-1/2-Inch Parer

This Farberware 3-Piece Resin Knife Set will have you slicing and dicing like a pro. These knives feature resin-coated stainless steel blades that reduce the sticking of food to...

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Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Cheddar, 1.5-ounce bags (pack of 24)

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Baked Snack Crackers 1.5 Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)

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Hotels?... of Course

This Was NOT a Camping Trip, So we Stayed in Hotels

We generally don't stay in 'fancy' places when we go on Road Trips. Now... I don't like staying in flea we find the middle of the road, nice places that don't cost the earth. Best Western was offering a deal that if you stayed in their hotels for 5 nights, you got one free. That worked for us. Look for deals, especially with chain hotels.

My biggest criterion for a hotel? It has to serve breakfast. We save a fortune by not taking the monkey patrol out for breakfast. (Since we also make our own lunch, going out to dinner is our only restaurant expense. It's easier on the wallet, and easier on the kids).

The kid's biggest request? A POOL. Luckily most places in the southwest have one.

Oh... and we added one more thing to our "should have" list for hotels... a window or fan in the bathroom. Trust me... after one hotel without? We learned to check.

Now that the Planning and Preliminaries are Out of the Way

Off We Go.......

Driving on Interstate 80 from San Francisco to Park City, Utah

Driving Across Northern Nevada.... Jackalopes and a Copper Mine

Northern NevadaOur first days were a long somewhat boring driving experience. I say somewhat, because we made a few stops along the way to liven things up.

Our lunch stop was in Auburn, CA... in the shadow of a giant Gold Miner Statue. The kids played around the old mining gear, and basically got their beans out while getting slightly dirty.

Northern Nevada, along the 80, was not what I expected. I'm used to Nevada the desert. This was Nevada green. Go figure. We spent the night in Winnemucca... a place known for being difficult to pronounce. The kids loved the pool, I enjoyed sampling the local Basque cuisine. (Why go to Europe? hahahaha)

Elko for lunch the next day, and a quick visit to the Sherman Station to see the log cabin, blacksmith sheds, then the Northeastern Nevada Museum where we saw and ACTUAL JACKALOPE! Picnic lunch, Dairy Queen dessert... then off to Utah.

A stop at Kennecott's Bingham Copper Mine was the highlight of our day. And then we drove past Salt Lake City to spend the night in Park City.

Again, a Best Western, this one with an INDOOR Pool. The kids were so excited!! We let them sneak into the pool after lights out. (shhh don't tell)

Photos by Maggie Powell

Kennecott's Bingham Copper Mine

Roadside Attraction

Copper MineSouthwest of Salt Lake City is the World's FIRST open-Pit Copper Mine.

This is a really really really BIG hole in the ground. It's a working copper mine, and it is the largest man made hole in the ground in the US. The kids LOVED it.

There was a visitor center and observation area on the top edge of the hole. We saw the movie, and looked at all of the models. One of the GIANT Tires was there for the kids to play on. The dump trucks in the pit were enormous!!!! And, for extra bonus points? Explosions. They blew stuff up in the hole.

This was a nice place to spend an hour or more. No one was bored, we all got to stretch our legs, and there was even an area to have a quick picnic.

I had to drag the kids away. A nice man at the visitor center gave them each a pin, and we bought some little bits of copper.

photo by Maggie Powell

Big Truck In the Copper Mine

Kennecott Copper Mine
Kennecott Copper Mine
Maggie Powell

Kennecott Copper Mine

The World's Largest Man Made Hole
Kennecott Copper Mine
Kennecott Copper Mine
Maggie Powell


Never Miss A Chance At A Roadside Attraction

JackalopeJackalopes are an amazing animal that many people claim doesn't exist. Of course it does! We saw one in a very reputable Museum...see! According to Wikipedia (who is the expert in these things) they are shy, and can mimic human voices. hhhmmmmmm

We found this specimin at the Natural History Museum in Elko, Nevada. The museum is LOADED with interesting and unsusual exhibits... apparently it was started by a big game hunter, since there are loads of stuffed animals. They also have an exhibit of Bing Crosby memerobilia. 

Then it was lunch in the park by the museum, and we were off again.

photo by maggie powell

Journaling for Kids

I Still LOVE Looking at The Journals Years Later

There are Really Neat Journals On the Market full of writing prompts and pictures... I Find that A Simple Small Spiral Notebook Does the Trick... Kids can Write, Draw, Put in Stickers or Tape in Postcards. Not only do you have a memory, you get to see the trip through their eyes. 

Pack along glue sticks, markers and pens.

Have Kids Keep a Journal for Memories to Last a Lifetime!

Mead Five Star Personal Spiral Notebook, 7" x 4 3/8", 100 Sheets, College Rule, Assorted colors

Personal-size note books with durable poly covers Rule / Bound Type: College / Wirebound. No. of Subjects / Cover Color: 1 Subject / Assorted Colors. Size / Sheet Count: 7" x 4 ...

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Heber Valley Railroad

A Fun Ride for Young Train Lovers

Heber CreeperWe got up early in Park City, because we had a train to catch! Also known as the Heber Creeper, this is a steam engine railroad that takes passengers through the lovely Heber Valley. You can sit inside on old fashioned seats climb around in the caboose, or ride in an open car on benches. We were even held up by bandits. Very fun. Especially for the train afficianados in our group. (My son LOVED trains). 

At the turn around point... some of our family got off and took a raft trip back to the station. This was a low danger raft excursion on a class 1 and class 2 stretch of water. A great introduction to rafting for younger people. Those of us who didn't feel up to rafting took the train back (some of us napped on the train...)

photo by maggie powell

Where Do You Find Dinosaur Bones?

Vernal Utah

Vernal UtahAfter the excitement of the train ride, it was time to climb back in the mini-van for the drive across the top of Utah to Vernal.

Vernal is a dinosaur lovers paradise, and is the Gateway to Dinosaur National Monument.

In Vernal, Utah, where we stayed the night (there are no hotels closer to Dinosaur National Monument) we visited the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. I believe that this is one of the BEST Natural History museums for kids EVER. Lots to do, and lots to see... but.... not so big that it is overwhelming. Perfect for the attention spans of little kids, and for the weary feet of moms.

In Vernal we also had a chance to go to the Drive in Movie! My kids were flummoxed at the concept... but clearly it was the hot spot in town. Loads of families were was great.

photo by Maggie Powell

Walking with Dinosaurs

My Dinosaur Loving Son Watched This Series Over and Over on the Trip
Walking with Dinosaurs

New Blood, Time of the Titans, Cruel Sea, Giant of the Skies, Spirits of the Ice Forest, Death of a Dynasty. Ride the ultimate time machine from the beginning of dinosaurs to th...

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Dinosaur National Monument Fossil Bone Quarry

Outside of Jensen Utah

Got a dinosaur lover in your family? This National Monument is NOT to be missed. We arrived bright and early... too early actually, we had to wait for the ranger to open the gates.... excited about this one.

Dinosaur BonesThe main building is up on a hill (they take you up by shuttle...a little like Disneyland). The visitor center is glass walled, and it contains a WALL OF DINOSAUR BONES. Best of all, you CAN touch them. Really. There is a scientific explanation involving a mass kill of dinos, a river, time, and a geological upthrust... but the upshot is this, the scientists started digging, found the mother load of dino bones, and left them for all to see.

It's amazing.

And my son was in pig heaven (I mean Dinosaur heaven)

There are dinosaur skeletons and skulls for all to see. The Rangers took us on a hike, and we learned to find dinosaur bones in the ground. Of course, these had to be left behind for other people to find....

We also took a driving tour of the Monument and saw the Petroglyphs left by ancient peoples. The Green River was a cool respite from our drive, and a good picnic spot. Our kids earned their first Junior Ranger Badge which started them on a quest for more.

Near Dinosaur National Monument, in the town of Jensen, we stopped at a rock shop and found a few rocks to add to our collection at home.

photo by Maggie Powell

Dig Up Your Own Dinosaur!

Have Fun Digging up T Rex Bones!
Dig A Dino Tyrannosaurus Rex

Play at being a top paleontologist by excavating the bones of a dinosaur that roamed the Earth millions of years ago. Then put the pieces together to make the stunning skeleton ...

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Hunt for Fossils

Trilobite Hunting at the U-Dig Quarry in Delta, Utah

Trilobite HuntingAfter a few days in Vernal and Dinosaur, we backtracked across Utah, and headed south on the 15 to Delta, Utah. To break up the very very very very long drive, we stopped for a longish break near Heber... next to the river by the the Train Trestle, and went fishing. No... we didn't catch anything, but that's not the point, is it?

Delta is off the beaten path... we did meet the nicest people in the coffee shop (they invited us to go rock hounding in their FRONT YARD.

Our big adventure was to be the U-Dig Fossils Trilobite Quarry.

Now, the Trilobite quarry is 32 miles down highway 50 west of Delta, and then 20 miles north down a gravel road. We are talking the back of beyond. We managed it in our mini-van (it was LOADS of fun going up and down some of those hills). BE SURE YOU HAVE GAS IN YOUR CAR. Take along water, food, hats, sunscreen and some more water just to be sure. And, we let several people know where we were going and when we would be back. Paranoid? Yes... but we had small kids along. Paranoid is good.

At the Fossil Quarry you pay for a set amount of time. They provide you with all the tools you need to find trilobites in the shale, basically, rock hammers and buckets. We were also given instructions and a place to dig. Now ... this isn't brain surgery.... you pick up a piece of shale, split in, and look inside. If you are lucky? An ancient bug. AND you get to keep what you find. At first, we kept everything...even the broken bits....after a while we started keeping only the best trilobites.

It is hot, dirty, messy and loads of fun. even the baby had fun looking for tri-lee-bites. We found some nice pieces to take home to our museum. And a few extra to bring home as gifts. We were even allowed to bring home big pieces of shale to split at home. The kids all loved digging... I had lots of fun too.

photo by maggie powell

Dig For Trilobite Fossils

U Dig Trilobites

 U-Dig Fossils

The U Dig Fossils is a family run quarry where you can dig your own fossils.

Great for all ages!

Our Rockhounding Kit Always Comes Along

Don't Forget the Safety Glasses!
Rockhound Tool Kit / Geologist Field Tools

This kit has all the basic items need by a starting rockhound or geologist. They're all top of the line tools that any geologist or rockhound will be happy to wear around their ...

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Trilobites: Common Trilobites of North America (A NatureGuide Book)

A survey of representative trilobite species from North America. It includes meticulous line drawings of 42 species, with information for each concerning classification, geologi...

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Get Kids Excited About Rocks and Fossils!

Start a Collection of Things You Find

Be aware that you are NOT allowed to collect rocks and fossils everywhere. The National Parks and Monuments have strict rules against collecting. You can, however, identify what you see.

Rock hounding, and fossil hunting are fantastic for getting kids outside and enjoying the natural world around them.

BTW... Fee mining is a great way to start with kids.... results are almost guaranteed

Fee Mining Is A Great Way To Go If You Travel With Kids

You are Almost Guaranteed to Find SOMETHING
Fee Mining and Rockhounding Adventures in the West

This unique guide directs you to a wide variety of both "fee and free" rockhounding and mineral adventures throughout the western states. Covers 100 collecting locations plus 15...

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Bryce Canyon National Park

What is a Hoodoo? Where to Hike in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon HoodooWe had a few days at Bryce Canyon National Park. Since we couldn't get a room inside the Park, we stayed at Ruby's Inn Best Western just outside. This place was a wonderland for kids with restaurants, pools and a rodeo. Seriously, a rodeo....

They also have shuttles to take you into the Park. Shuttles are wonderful... they just are. No driving. We did the visitor center, admired the HooDoos, took a few short hikes in different areas and worked on the Junior Ranger Badge.

The Mossy Cave Trail is a good one for families.. not too long, and it goes along the water in a canyon, so it was shaded part of the way. The kids got their feet wet and climbed around on fallen trees. It was a good way to spend the afternoon.

After dinner we went back in to the Park for a Ranger led night hike along the rim The colors at sunset were spectacular.

Early in the morning we took one last hike in Bryce Canyon on the Queens Garden Trail. We chose to go early so that we would beat the heat and the crowds. The kids were excited by the slight element of danger that comes with walking on trails next to cliffs....Sadly, the trail starts out going DOWN into the Canyon, this means going out is going UP. We elephant walked (held hands and pulled each other) when we got tired.

Then it was time for a snack, and a ranger badge, and we were off to the Grand Canyon.

photo by maggie powell

Jr. Ranger Badges

Helps Kids Learn About the Parks

Jr.RangerThe National Parks and National Monuments in the US have Junior Ranger Programs. Once our kids discovered these... they were hooked. When you go into a Park or Monument, stop by the Visitor Center, and pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Book. Some cost a few dollars, others are free. There are often a few different ones, geared to the ages of the kids. The kids have to complete the activities listed in the book... and the activities are wide ranging- hikes, quizzes, word searches, sometimes a story, sometimes they draw, all are pretty fun. Then they are sworn in as a Junior Ranger for the park, and get a cool badge.

Bonus points to whoever thought this program up... instead of "why do we have to go on this hike?", I hear "let's go on the hike! I need to find 3 trees".


The Only Field Guide You Will Ever Need

Identify Birds, Plants and Animals
HarperCollins Complete North American Wildlife: A Photo Field Guide

With over 1,500 color photographs, this is the indispensable field guide for every hiker and naturalist exploring the vast wildlife of North America. A handy volume that covers ...

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North Rim Grand Canyon National Park

North Rim Lodge Cabins

North Rim Grand Canyon ChipmunkI have to start with a disclaimer... there were a lot of fires in the Canyon that year, so visibility was impaired.


The kids seriously liked the Copper Mine better.... Sigh. You see... to them, the Grand Canyon was just another big hole, but there were no explosions.

We were lucky enough to stay in the Cabins connected to the Grand Canyon Lodge. It was fun, rustic, and the kids loved that the chipmunks made themselves at home in our room.

Months earlier I managed to get reservations BY THE WINDOW in the Lodge Dining Room. Wonderful. A chance to get cleaned up a bit, and put on my one nice outfit. We ate well, and fell into bed.

Grand Canyon was another round of Ranger talks and short hikes. I was more nervous here, since there are no railings around the canyon. That sounded stupid, didn't it? Any of you with small children would understand. The paths just have a line of stones around 5 inches high between you and a plunge to certain death. At one point I lost sight of a daughter, and lost about 5 years of my life in the panic of looking for her.

We declared a need for quiet time, so we spent part of the afternoon in the lodge reading, playing board games and petting the statue of Brighty of the Grand Canyon (loved those Marguerite Henry books).

photo by Maggie Powell

Roadside Attractions

Don't Miss These American Gems!
Roadside Attractions: Cool Cafes, Souvenir Stands, Route 66 Relics, & Other Road Trip Fun

Hit the open road for fun and wackiness as the Butkos visit offbeat attractions from coast to coast--dinosaur parks, miniature golf courses, populuxe motels, vintage amusement a...

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Moqui Caves

(another) Roadside Attraction

Atomic Slag140 million Years of Natural History! WOW

Ok... if you haven't noticed, I am a sucker for roadside attractions. You put up a sign saying "big ball of yarn", and I'm there. The Moqui Cave is a perfect example. It's a semi-man made cave full of stuff.

There were dinosaur footprints, southwestern arts and crafts, a gift shop, and (best of all) GLOW IN THE DARK ROCKS. They had a huge display of minerals that glowed... all neatly labeled. We had fun wandering through...until my husband noticed two very bright rocks, one marked Atomic Slag, the other Uranium. He high-tailed it out of there. (I figured we had all the kids we needed, so I kept looking)

photo by maggie powell

Vintage Zion National Park

Zion National Park, c.1938

Bryce Canyon National Park

Thor's Hammer, Bryce Canyon, Utah

Zion National Park

Hiking the Narrows

Hiking The Narrows, Zion National ParkZion National Park is one of my favorite Parks. I love the feeling of being deep in the Canyon, I love how green it is, and I love the river running through it.

Because the National Park Lodge was booked for the first night, we spent a night outside the Park at a neat little place called Meadow View Lodges. We had our own log cabin with a view that went on forever. The owners kept a meadow full of Buffalo! They are huge, snuffly, stinky creatures, but it was great to be able to see a herd up close. There was also a stable with horseback riding. Now... some of my people ride, others don't ... so the riders went off with their guide, Guy. The highlight was coming to a rise with a view of 3 National Parks.... remarkable.

As evening closed in, a thunderstorm hit with a ferocity that we don't see in the Bay Area. The kids and I sat on the porch of our cabin watching in amazement as the lightning lit the sky.

We did get a chance to spend a night at Zion National Park Lodge. Staying in the lodge was great... most of the tourists leave at dinner time, so we felt like we had the park almost to ourselves. We played on the lawn out front... taking care not to disturb the resident skunks...

Hiking in Zion goes up instead of down. We did a short hike on the Emerald Pools Trail. The best hike for us was up the Narrows. There is no trail... you are hiking in the water between two canyon walls. There are spotters along the canyon watching for flash floods. I'll admit I was a bit nervous, and didn't go too far with the baby, but the boys wandered up pretty far. You got to love any activity where you can get wet in the hot summer.

photo by Maggie Powell

Hiking At Zion National Park

Hike The Narrows!
Favorite Hikes In & Around Zion National Park

Favorite Hikes In & Around Zion National Park (full color) This ultimate year-round hiking guide for all ages and skill levels covers 50 spectacular hikes within a 100-mile radi...

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Las Vegas

Shaking of the Dust at the Mandalay Bay Hotel

Mandalay bay Wave PoolAfter all this time on the road, it was time to shake the dust off, so we stopped in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

The kids saw the giant wave pool... and became a BLUR as they rushed into swimsuits and down to the water.

That was the Vegas Experience for us... pool.

We tried dragging them to see a few other things... the animatronics at Ceasars Palace, the flower atrium and the water fountains at Bellagio, the MGM, the Venitian, Paris...... we made the HUGE mistake of seeing the Pirate show at Treasure Island (FYI.. It's not pirates vs. british sailors anymore... it's bikini girls) (also FYI... if you need to clear a path to get out of a crowd with a child.. shout "she's going to throw up!" the waters will part for you) All they wanted was the pool.

Fine by me... I like pools.

Las Vegas For Kids

Las Vegas is Mainly for Adults, But there Are Some Things You Can Do With Kids
Frommer's Las Vegas with Kids (Frommer's With Kids)

Find out the most fun and educational experiences for kids of all ages in Sin City. Believe it or not, every year nearly 4 million visitors go to Vegas with children in tow! Las...

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GIant Thermometer in Baker, California

(another) Roadside Attraction

Baker ThermometerOk... it's really hokey... but in Baker, California is the World's Biggest Thermometer!

You can't miss it... it's really BIG

We stopped for lunch ... when we went in to the theater... it was 106 F.... when we came out? 108 F


Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Giant Redwoods

Giant RedwoodsUp through the Mojave Desert to Three Rivers California. We found some cute cabins to stay in on Lake Kaweah, at the entrance to the Parks. We ate pizza and played in the pool. It was sooooooo hot!

The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were very nice. We had a chance to see enormous Redwood trees, including the Sherman Tree and the General. We took a nice hike through the woods, and marveled at the size of the trees. The kids earned another Jr.Ranger Badge by picking up trash and participating in a Ranger activity.

This was our fifth Park, and we were ready to go home.

What is Your Favorite National Park or National Monument?

Where Would You Like To Go? Where Have You Been That You Loved?

Books for Kids to Prepare for the Trip

In the Weeks Before the Trip, We did Some Reading to Get Ready for What We Would See
Brighty: Of the Grand Canyon (Marguerite Henry Horseshoe Library)

Long ago, a lone little burro roamed the high cliffs of the Grand Canyon and touched the hearts of all who knew him: a grizzled old miner, a big-game hunter, even President Tedd...

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Dinosaur Roar (Picture Puffins)

Dinosaurs of every shape and size race, roar, and stomp through this colorful book of opposites. And where are all these silly-looking creatures off to? A dinosaur picnic, of co...

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Dwight and the Trilobite (Get Ready-Get Set-Read!)

This reader presents two word families that have the same sound but are spelled differently: ight and ite.

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National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever

In the crowded field of dinosaur books, this is the very first to offer children ages 7 to 10—those at the height of their enthusiasm for the prehistoric giants—complete coverag...

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Two Weeks of Road Dust

DollyWhen my youngest was little, she and her Dolly were inseparable. Now, on this trip, Dolly went hiking, trilobite hunting, and rolled around on the floor of a train for a while.

Now... I can see some of you thinking.... "how could she let her daughter hold that filthy thing for 2 weeks!" 

If you can devise a way to take a little girl's dolly away from her...even for an hour... without her screaming loud enough to raise the dead... please let me know. 

 At home... Dolly got a well deserved bath in the washing machine while my baby girl was sleeping.

Updated: 07/21/2015, MaggiePowell
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MaggiePowell on 03/11/2014

It was great... although, it might have been nice to have a few more days so we could slow down a bit more!

Natural_Skin_Care on 03/10/2014

Wow, I feel like I was there with you. Bet it was a blast.

MaggiePowell on 08/08/2013

It was fun.... and I only needed a 7 day vacation to recover from it! hahahaha

ologsinquito on 08/08/2013

Wow. What a trip you had. It must have been a lot of fun.

MaggiePowell on 08/08/2013

Thanks! I hope you found it entertaining.... or a great cure for insomnia!

MaggiePowell on 08/08/2013

Some people may roll their eyes... but roadside attractions are FUN.

MaggiePowell on 08/08/2013

I have to thank my son's teacher for the journal idea. He had so much trouble with reading and writing in school, and she didn''t want him to lose progress over the summer. The trip gave him lots to write about.. (And as long as I never corrected his spelling, it was fun for him, and not a chore).

MikeRobbers on 08/08/2013

Wonderful post, Maggie! I really enjoyed reading about your road trip.

jptanabe on 08/08/2013

I enjoyed your trip! Love that your kids enjoyed the roadside attractions. Have to remember that on my next road trip. Even if they're a bit odd, they do give you a place to stretch your legs, have a picnic lunch, and something to talk about when back on the road,

dustytoes on 08/08/2013

I've never been to this area of the country. I love seeing all your photos and it seems like your family had a wonderful vacation. I'd love to see that big open mine - what a place. And having the kids keep their own journals on the trip is such a good idea! Wish I'd thought of it years ago.

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