Fort Union National Monument

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Visited: March 2018

Duration: 2-3 hours

Accommodations: Las Vegas, NM (28 miles South of Fort Union)

Fort Union was once a bustling community where soldiers practiced army drills, blacksmiths hammered out horseshoes and wheels for wagons. Traders traded items and news in English and Spanish.

Fort Union was built a few years after the end of the U.S.-Mexican War. It provided the U.S. with a major military outpost along the Santa Fe Trail.  At the fort soldiers worked to enforce policies in the New Mexico Territory. The Fort was first built in 1851 and was reconstructed two more times in different locations.  When you visit the monument you can see traces of all three of the sites.

Our first stop was the Visitor Center, we grabbed Junior Rangers for Fort Union National Monument (you can also do The Santa Fe Trail, we grabbed them when we left and will do at the other sites). We also got lots of cancellations for our passports.  The Junior Ranger booklet was challenging here.  We did what we could at the visitor center and then headed out to view the remains of the fort.

It was windy and cold the day we visited the fort.  We went on a fun scavenger hunt for Junior Rangers and explored the fort in a educational way.  There is a great Self Guided booklet that you can take along with you as well.

We crossed the Santa Fe Trail and we could still see ruts in it from the years of wagons passing through.  This was really cool!! I love the remains of the fort in the back ground of this photo.

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Here are some of the remains of the third fort that was used between 1863-1891.  It was fun to see what each building was used for (take your map).

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Transportation Corral
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Stables and Bakery
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Hospital

After we finished our fun and freezing walk out at the fort we came inside to warm up and get our Junior Ranger badges.

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Great stop to break up our drive time through New Mexico.  I just wish it would have been a little warmer but we survived.  I really loved all the cancellations we got.

Have you been to Fort Union?  We really loved our trip through New Mexico, what a great state full of history and beauty.

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Pecos National Historic Park

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Visited: March 2018

Duration: 2-3 hours

Accommodations: Santa Fe, NM (located 25 northwest of the park)

Pecos National Historic park holds years of history. It preserves the archaeological site of a 15th century Pueblo, Spanish missions, the crossing of the Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico Ranch history, A.V. Kidder’s excavations, and the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass.

The Visitor Center is a great tool to visualize all the different history this place represents.  We grabbed some Junior Ranger booklets at the desk and headed into the museum. This place has a great gift shop as well.

Cicuye/Pecos Pueblo (1350-1838)- a fortress that grew into one of the largest and most powerful pueblos. It was home to 2,000 people and grew four to five stories high. The Pecos fortress housed kivas, which you can go in that were connections to the spiritual world.  Here is Hunter climbing down into a kiva.

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For Cross and Crown (1541-1680) – Spain was determined to colonize these lands and convert the Pecos to Catholicism. They destroyed the kivas, smashed statues and banned Pueblo ceremonies. In 1621 Fray Andres Juarez arrived and acknowledged their beliefs while trying to educate and convert them. Under his direction a large mission church was built and relations between the two groups improved for a time. Here is a picture of what remains and what once was.

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Revolution, Rebirth, and Decline (1680-1838)- After years of the Spanish trying to eradicate every aspect of ancestral Pueblo life, Po’ pay, a Pueblo religious leader wanted to put an end to the Spanish domination. They rose up and drove out the Spanish which did not solve the other problems they still had, water shortage, poor crops or raids by Navajo and the Apache. By 1838 the last few remaining Pecos moved.

From 1821 to 1880 the Santa Fe Trail was a major commerce and travel route through here. Thousands past through here on their way west. You can still see the wagon ruts cut into the earth.

Glorieta Pass (1821-1862)  The Confederate army held this field but learned that Union troops destroyed all their supply train, this forced a retreat back to Texas, The Battle of Glorieta pass marked the end of Confederate ambitions to control New Mexico.  If you ask at the visitor center a Ranger will give you the Glorieta Battlefield tour.  We opted out of this and instead did the walk around the park. It was an easy walk with 1.25 mile gravel path.

Ruins, Rodeos and Ranches (1915-1991)- From 1915-29 Alfred V. Kidder excavated at Pecos Pueblo and revealed more than 600 years of human occupation. He is considered the originator of the first comprehensive, systemic approach to North American archaeology. In 1925 the area was purchased and Forked Lightning Ranch was created. In 1941 it was purchased by a Dallas Oil man and rancher. In 1991 it was parceled to the National Park Service.

So much history here it is unbelievable.  The Junior Ranger program was very educational and fun.  The self-guided walk around the park is beautiful with plenty of ruins to explore, and plenty of benchmark signs to go with.

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Back at the Visitor Center and we have earned our badges and patches.  This Park Ranger was exceptional!  He really did a great job getting the kids involved in this park.  I love it when these guys love their job.

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Junior Ranger earned and we are off! If you love history, this place is a must in New Mexico!

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Patches, badges and Cancellations at this park were awesome!! What a great place.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out our National Park Trip Season 3 Spring Break. Don’t forget to check out our other stops in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri that we hit on this trip.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

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Visited: June 2016

Duration: 4 hours

Great Sand Dunes was a pit stop on the road home from Mesa Verde National Park.  A co-worker had told me it is a must do for the kids. I figured we could at least burn off a bit of energy before the long ride home.

We drove the scenic route from Farmington, New Mexico to Sand Dunes following Highway 160. Some of the most beautiful scenery is along this route, so glad we took it. I could live here and I wouldn’t regret a day of it.

We rolled into Sand Dunes around lunch time and stopped at Great Sand Dunes Oasis for a bite to eat and rented some sand sleds. Headed to the visitor center for info and maps.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. It didn’t take long to discover that this park has a ton to offer, from hiking, backpacking, car camping, camping, fishing and hunting. It is an outdoors-man’s dream. We came to shred the dunes.

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Not far from the visitor center is sand dune parking with bathrooms and foot washes.

We walked through Medano Creek and hiked up the dunes.  This is a pretty good trek and hiking up the dunes is great exercise.

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Beautiful scenery all around

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We got our sand sledding on and spent several hours doing so. I will say, it is not easy to do.  This sand is very course and hard to sled down. Make sure to keep your board waxed otherwise you aren’t going far. We struggled with this for awhile.

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We did have a blast. This place is totally worth a stop if you have a few hours to a day. I wish we had more time to explore the whole park but this experience had us a bit exhausted and ready for the ride home. I think we will be back to do some fishing and camping.

Warning:  It is a bit windy on the dunes, try not to have too much fun smiling and laughing or you might end up like this! LOL

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Great time here at this park. Got our cancellations and we are heading home. Have you been here?  What parts did you enjoy?

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That wraps up National Park Trip Season 1. Just look what I started. 🙂

Mesa Verde National Park

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Visited: June 2016

Duration: 1 day

Accommodations: Kokepelli Cave Bed and Breakfast, Farmington, New Mexico.

Mesa Verde National Park is what inspired our very first National Park trip, and the rest is history. Hunter was studying cliff dwellings in Social Studies in the 5th grade. His teacher asked if anyone in the class had ever visited a cliff dwelling and nobody had. I asked Hunter if he would be interested in going, it isn’t that far away and it would be fun to see something you have learned about already. He was really excited for this National Park, it was full of history and we love to learn!

We stopped off at the Visitor Center and got all of the info we needed. We tried to do a tour of Cliff Palace but they were full for the day and only had openings for the next day. That’s okay we decided to head out to the Step House and do a self guided tour of one of the many cliff dwellings located in the park.

We drove the whole length of the park road to get to the Wetherill Mesa Information station, this takes awhile to get from one end of the park to the other so just plan your time.  We had a picnic lunch before heading out on the trail for our cliff dwelling tour. It was a relatively short hike to reach the Step House. There you can buy a tour brochure and do a self guided tour, but we were lucky enough to be one of the only groups there so the park ranger gave us the full tour and took our pictures everywhere we wanted as well. What a deal!!! She was full of information and answered all of our questions. I’d say we lucked out on this stop.

Step house photos

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We finished up in this area and then headed back driving down the Chaplin Mesa road.  We pulled over at all of the pull offs but our favorite view was the view of Cliff Palace from across the valley, by Sun Temple.

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These dwellings are absolutely amazing. Back to the visitor center to earn our Junior Ranger badges and we can head back to the Cave hotel. I think we would have enjoyed this a heck of a lot more if the kids weren’t so interested in getting back to Kokopelli’s and hanging out in the cave more.  It was pretty amazing, you can check out our stay in the cave here.

We loved this National Park and would recommend it, if you are in the area.  Have you been here?? Fun place to learn history and get some great photos.  This part of Colorado is gorgeous, lots of scenery and great places to visit. Next up, Great Sand Dunes National Park. Check back soon.

Grand Canyon National Park

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Visited: June 2016

Duration: 1 full day

Accommodations: Thunderbird Lodge (I do not recommend)

We spent a full day here at the park on the South Rim. We started off with an overpriced breakfast at Bright Angel Lodge. We walked the rim trail in the morning stopping at the Visitor center for Junior Rangers and cancellations. Everywhere we went was absolutely packed with people and tourist shops.  Not what I expected at all after visiting Arches, Bryce and Zion. We stopped and got some great pictures of the canyon along the rim trail.

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We went to El Tovar for lunch and ran down to the General store to fill up on food for the rest of our trip.  A little shopping in the afternoon at the Grand Canyon village shops and the kids are ready for naps.

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After our naps, we headed down to Shrine of the Ages for our evening ranger program called Twilight Zone. We did everything in the dark, learning to use our other senses because we couldn’t use our eyes. We also learned how some living things fluoresce and we pretended to be able to fluoresce using gum, pretty cool trick I didn’t know.  This was a great program put on by Ranger Andy, I would recommend this if you have Junior Rangers earning their badges, this is one of the programs you complete to earn it.  Even the adults LOVED it in our group. We had a dark and spooky walk back along the rim trail to our hotel. It didn’t help my kids were hiding in the timber making cougar and mountain lion sounds. We didn’t know grandma could walk that fast!! LOL.

In the morning we visited Vercamp’s Visitor Center to receive our Junior Ranger badges and we were off to Four Corners Monument.

We didn’t spend long at the Grand Canyon, too many people and really not much to do, that we could find. It was gorgeous, but I think I would rather spend my time at the North Rim or Havasupai, a little less crowded and a lot less touristy. Have you been to the Grand Canyon? What did you think?  It really wasn’t one of our favorites. Maybe we will try it again some day.

Zion National Park

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Visited: June 2016

Duration: 2 days

Accommodations: Cable Mountain Lodge, Sprindale, UT.

Zion National Park, this was the park I was most looking forward to on National Park Trip Season 1. It brought 0 disappointments.

We started our morning out leaving Bryce Canyon and heading to Zion.  We found a great German Bakery about half way in between the parks. What a great surprise. It was beyond delicious. We then headed to Zion. We arrived at the east side of the park and traveled the Zion Mount Carmel Highway. Highlight for the kids was the Tunnel. If you plan to do this I would add about an hour on to your trip, this takes some time but we thought it was well worth it. We headed straight to Springdale, the town we will be staying at for the next 2 nights. Check in at our hotel, which is in the most perfection location. Walking distance to everything.

We walked over to the visitor center to gather information for our visit. We strolled down the Pa’rus Trail that lead us to the Zion Nature Center, where we did enjoyed a fantastic Junior Ranger Program, Dino Discovery. The kids made molds/fossils of dinosaur footprints and learned all about dinosaur prints found here at Zion. There was a great Junior Ranger display here for the kids to enjoy. We then embarked out on a scavenger hunt to finish up the Junior Ranger book.

Hot and ready for the pool we headed back to the hotel to relax.

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Day 2

We started this day off early and still had to wait in line for the bus. Not for long though, this National Park is organized and the bus system is fabulous (compared to other parks we will visit).

We rode the bus all the way to the end of the road, Temple of Sinawava and will work our way back hiking and riding the bus. The first trail we went on was Riverside Walk, this gets you to the trail to go to the Narrows which was our plan. This was a gorgeous trail that was paved all the way until the Narrows trail starts.

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When we got to the narrows entrance there was a park ranger standing there warning people not to go to far in because of possible flash flooding. We headed out a little ways but turned back and decided to explore other places in the park.

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We hopped back on the bus and took it to the next stop.

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We rode the bus to The Grotto, and walked the Grotto trail to Zion Lodge. A great easy hike with fantastic views.

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We ate lunch at Zion Lodge and played on the front lawn before crossing the road and doing the Emerald Pools Trail. This trail was tons of fun with great overlooks but not many pools as the name implies, just some dripping water so don’t expect too much unless you are here in the spring. Check these awesome views on this trail. Also great photo ops of many different cacti along this trail as well.

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After several great hikes and a wonderful day in the park we hopped back on the bus to take us back to the Visitor Center to get our first ever Junior Ranger badges! How exciting!

We really wanted to tube the river while we were here but we ran out of time. This place was an amazing stop on this trip so glad I took the advice of coworker and didn’t miss this park.

Thanks for visiting, have you been to Zion? Did you love it as much as we did?

Hunter and I want to go back and do the Narrows and Angels Landing hikes, any others you recommend?

Bryce Canyon National Park

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Visited:  June 2016

Duration: 1.5 days

Accommodations: Bryce Country Cabins, Tropic Utah

Our third park of National park trip Season 1, and our most favorite.  We left Moab in the morning and got to Bryce Canyon right after lunch.  It was a beautiful drive down Hwy 89.  Lots of windy streams that followed along with the road surrounded by beautiful tall evergreens. Utah has to be one of the most beautiful places in the USA.

Our first stop in Bryce was at Bryce Canyon Lodge, this was the check in point for our Mule ride through the canyon.  We booked this through Canyon Trail Rides. Before we knew it we were on our mules and off into what would be some of the most spectacular views I have seen on a mule. We own mules and ride all over the midwest, this was so different and unique I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Just look at these views! We definitely aren’t in Iowa anymore.

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Our trail boss was Josh, he did a magnificent job leading us around and teaching us all about the wildlife at Bryce and how there has never been a fire at this National Park. The trees have been struck by lighting and that is why they look like this, the kids found all of this very interesting. Fun and educational way to see the park, I highly recommend.

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After our wonderful trail ride through the park we stopped off at the Visitor Center to gather some info on what we wanted to do the next day. We watched the short film. We grabbed Junior Ranger books and took them with. But we thought doing the “Hike the Hoodoos” challenge appeared more captivating to us than the Junior Rangers so we didn’t complete those books.

We checked in to Bryce Country Cabins, unloaded our things and headed into Tropic for some outstanding pizza at The Pizza Place. Great food, excellent atmosphere and a beautiful view. Great choice by us 🙂 We headed back to our cabin to enjoy. I had a few adult beverages on my swing behind my cabin with a little fire, the kids played on the play set with some other kids. A perfect relaxing evening.

Day 2

Up and at em. Cereal for breakfast on our deck. Then we headed to the park.  I happened to notice a trail head on our way last night from Bryce in to Tropic. This trail was on the Hike the Hoodoo challenge.  When we hit it, in the morning there were very few cars there (just how we like it).  This was the Mossy Cave Trail and was my absolute favorite trail we embarked upon on our visit to Bryce. It had everything, a cave, streams, waterfalls, hoodoos, vegetation and more.  I couldn’t ask for anything else.

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Streams
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Waterfalls
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Hike the Hoodoos Benchmark
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The Cave

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Hoodoos Galore

This trail was amazing.  I highly recommend it.

We then headed into the park and drove all the way to the end of the park road. This is called Rainbow point and held another Hike the hoodoos challenge trail we did called The Bristlecone Loop trail. This one wasn’t as awesome as the Cave trail but still had stunning views and pretty cool stops on the way. Short trail for kids or people who aren’t hiking fans. Very easy and mostly flat trails. Check out some of the sites we saw along our hike here.

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Canyon Overlook
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Cool tree
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Bristlecone loop Hoodoo Benchmark

We hopped back in the car and proceeded to wind our way back along the park road stopping at all points of interest (there are 18 of them).  Natural Bridge and Fairyland point being our favorites.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a not so great place (I won’t mention the name). Headed back into the park for our 3rd and final hike to complete our challenge. This time we did the Navajo Loop Trail. This trail was awesome, a little challenging in that we didn’t bring water, but we made it. We went down the hard way and came up the easier way. We met lots of fun people on this trail and took our time enjoying the views.  They were unreal on the this hike. Check it out.

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Heading down the trail. All switchbacks.
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Navajo Loop Benchmark
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Down in the depths of the hoodoos
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Working our way out
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Wall Street
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Up the switchbacks

What a great trail. We felt accomplished after this. We walked along the rim trail to check out Thor’s hammer and just enjoy time outside at the park until dark. We made a pitstop for Ice Cream and shopping on the way out of Bryce. Great little stores to walk through. We then called it a day and headed back to Tropic for a good nights sleep before packing up and heading to Zion.

We stopped off at Dixie National Forest on the way to Zion the next day. The Visitor Center was awesome.  Great park rangers and the kids got frisbees, chapstick, stickers and lots of goodies from them.  It is worth a stop 🙂

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Bryce Canyon was everyone’s favorite park of Season 1 trip and it is easy to see why.  I would recommend a visit to Bryce Canyon for everyone.  Trips can range from 1-7 days. You can see a lot of things with a 1 day trip, but if you have time you could keep busy for 5-7 days and get to see much more. I hope you all enjoyed our trip, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions because I’m sure this will be a park we revisit. Thanks for stopping by!

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Another cancellation in the books!! This was our car decal we all earned Hiking the Hoodoos!!

Illinois

National Park Trip Season 3 (Summer edition) started July 2018!

Illinois State Line Sign was the first state line sign we stopped at on this trip. We will end up getting 12 this year. Which will give us a total of 31 so far. Not too shabby.

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This sign was easy to get. It is located on I-80 east coming from Iowa and heading into Illinois.  We took the Illinois Rest Area exit and parked the car along the edge of the road and walked over to the sign.

We then pulled into the rest stop for a snack and bathroom break.  This was a very scenic and unexpectedly great stop. We walked around and stretched our legs, this was the half way point to our first stop of the trip so this worked out perfect 🙂 If you have a chance I suggest this rest area. Check it out.

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National Park Service Sites in this state:

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Pullman National Monument

 

We are just passing through Illinois on this trip but I will add these sites when we do stop and visit them. Check back.

Canyonlands National Park

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Visted: June 2016

Duration: 1/2 day  (Finished at Arches in the morning, spent afternoon here).

Accomodations: Moab Under Canvas

As stated above, we headed over to Canyonlands National Park in the afternoon after a wonderful lunch at Quesadilla Mobilla (highly recommend).  We pulled up to the visitor center and without missing a beat the kids noticed a car with personalized plates in the employee parking lot.  The same vehicle the kids were making faces at, at City Market the night before.  They started dying laughing and of course the owner just happened to be outside and they yelled his name (from the plates).  He looked at them and knew exactly who they were and joined in on the laughter.  (one of Gunnar’s favorite memories from this trip).  He ended up being a park ranger at the park, small world.

After all of that excitement, we headed into the Island in the Sky visitor center and got some info on the park.  There are 2 other visitor centers; Maze Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center. We didn’t make it to either of these. They are located at different entrances to the park, you can’t get to them without going out and around to the different entrances.

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We drove the Island in the Sky roads and stop off at every overlook.  It reminded us of a mini Grand Canyon.  You could see for miles, it was gorgeous.

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Along the road there are beautiful rock formations, shown below.  Overall you are on a literal Island in the Sky here.  It’s majestic, but I prefer to be in the canyon looking up instead of looking down.  It’s all a personal choice.  Still worth a visit.

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After our drive through Canyonlands it was getting late.  We headed back to Moab to fuel up for the drive to Bryce tomorrow and grab a bite to eat.  We got our cancellations but no Junior Ranger at this park. I guess we will need to revisit.

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Check back soon for Bryce Canyon National Park!  It was my favorite (tied with another) for National Park Trip Season 1.

Have you been to Canyonlands?  What would you recommend for our return visit?? I am thinking the Needles area??

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

Arches National Park

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Visited:  June 2016

Duration: 2 days

Accommodations:  Moab Under Canvas

Arches National Park.  Park #1 of National Park Trip Season 1.  This is where it all starts.  This was my first visit to a National Park, the rest is history.  We picked a perfect park to begin at.  Arches is a drive-able park with a few trails to hit off of the main road. This is a great warm up for my kids to start their hiking careers. This year we had my mom with us who had purchased a Senior National Park pass for $10.  Good for life and lets us all in to the parks.

First stop Visitor Center.  My mom found the National Park Passport books and talked us all in to getting them. They looked fun so I bought into it.  I didn’t know how much fun they would be until later on in the trip. Good call on these Mom!! I am officially addicted to my Passport as I am typing this 2 years later.

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Passport sticker and cancellations

We watched a short film on the geology of Arches National Park, grabbed a park map and headed out. As stated above Arches is a drive-able park.  One main road goes through the park, with a couple of roads to turn off and see arches.  Most Arches are within walking distance from the road.  Our first day we did the pull offs and a few of the Arches right off of the road. The second day we did some short hikes to several of the arches.

First day main road pull offs:

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Park Avenue Viewpoint
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Three gossips pullover
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Sheep Rock and Tower of Babel
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Balanced Rock from the parking lot
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Balanced Rock
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Overlook on the Balanced Rock Trail
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Rock piles found along trail. They mean stay on the trail.
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Skyline Arch from the road
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Skyline Arch trail. Really easy and fun trail

We turned around on the main road and headed back south.  We took the turn off for Wolf Ranch and headed to Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint.  We walked the path to the viewpoint and then headed back to the vehicle. We were tired and really hungry.  There is no lodging or food in this park so we headed south to Moab, a few miles to get some dinner before heading back to our tent.

Day 2

The morning began with a relaxed breakfast on the porch of our tent at Moab under canvas. We enjoyed beautiful view of the Moab desert and mountains while eating our apple jacks and fruit loops 🙂

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We headed to the park pretty early and the parking lots were filling up quickly.  We started our morning off by heading out to the arches we didn’t get to yesterday.  Double O arch and the windows arches.

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Double Arch from the parking lot
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Double Arch on the hike
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Kids LOVED climbing on the rocks.
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Parade of elephants
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Landscape Arch
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Double O Arch

We were done with Arches by lunchtime.  It was getting hot and we were getting hungry.  We headed back to Moab and went to Quesadilla Mobilla (recommended by TripAdvisor).  This lunch was spectacular!!!  Well worth the wait it took.  While we waited we put our stickers in our Passports and organized them, the time flew by.  We decided to head over to Canyonlands National Park to end out our day.

Arches was fantastic! We did miss a few things from not being National Park connoisseurs (yet).  3 things we will do on our return trip to Arches that we missed this time.

  1. The Fiery Furnace Hike (need to plan this ahead of time).
  2. Delicate Arch hike (not just the viewpoint)
  3. Junior Rangers (we did grab the books we just didn’t do them)

Have you been to Arches? What were your favorite spots?  Anything I need to add to my return visit?

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

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Visited: March 2018

Duration: 2-3 hours

We arrived at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument around 8 am.  We were one of the first cars in the parking lot. We entered in the South part of the park coming from Hwy 22.

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At this part of the park there are 2 Trails; Cave Loop Trail (1.2 miles) and Slot Canyon Trail (1.0 miles) with steep climbs and caverns to crawl through.  We did both trails and neither one was a disappointment to us. As a matter of fact this place was “in tents”.  Geology puns never get old!

It took us maybe an hour to 1.5 hours to do both trails, taking our time and taking lots of photos.  You can’t take a step without picturesque views.  This place was amazing.  We really enjoyed ourselves here.

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Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the traditional Keresan language of the pueblo. An important part of this area’s geologic story is the formation of the cone-like, vertical tents called “hoodoos”.  We love hoodoos and just couldn’t miss this park on our trip. We fell in love with them at Bryce Canyon National Park, and this place was a great reminder of why.

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Hoodoos are products of volcanic eruptions and erosion.  These eruptions happened 6 to 7 million years ago leaving pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick.  If you look close at the formations you can see small, black, glass fragments in the layered deposits.  These are obsidian or called “Apache Tears”.

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Over time wind and water erosion have cut into these deposits creating what we see today.  Isn’t nature awesome!!

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After our hikes we headed back to the car and picked up some Junior Ranger packets out of the information stations located near the parking lots.  The kids filled these out while we ventured back to the Cochiti Visitor Center at the corner of Hwy 22.  There, we were able to find a magnet and were told that we could earn our rangers badges and cancellations back at the ranger station we just passed. Oops. 🙂

We ventured back to the station and the Rangers were thrilled to see us.  We got passport cancellations, and patches for the everyone (including mom and dad).  The rangers were very fun and we really enjoyed getting our badges and chatting with them.  Great group of people. Awesome patches!

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Overall we really enjoyed our time at this stop.  This park isn’t listed in the National Park Passport book, we lucked out by reading blogs online or we would have never found this gem.  It is like a mini Bryce Canyon. We recommend stopping by for a hike and great pictures if you are in the area.

Have you been to Kasha-Katuwe?  What was your favorite part??  We loved it all.

Petroglyph National Monument

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Duration: 2-3 hours

For the next stop on National Park Trip Season 3: Spring Break edition we traveled north to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Petroglyph National Monument is located just off to the west of Albuquerque, directly north of I40.

We headed straight to the Visitor Center to pick up our Junior Ranger booklets and find a great trail to discover Petroglyphs.  We watched the short film, picked up some goodies in the gift shop, talked with the rangers and headed out to Boca Negra Canyon.

There are actually 4 hiking spots at the Monument:

Boca Negra Canyon: 3 short trails, restrooms, picnic area, water and ~100 petroglyphs

Rinconada Canyon: 2.2 mile trail, no water, no restrooms and ~300 petroglyphs

Piedras Marcadas Canyon: 1.5 mil loop, no water, no restrooms and ~ 300 images

Volcanoes: 1-4 miles of hiking, no water, restrooms, and no petroglyphs

Boca Negra Canyon was just less than a mile up the road from the Visitor Center.  The city charges you parking ($1 on weekdays, $2 on the weekends).  We found a place to park, filled up on water and headed out on what was a sunny, warm and beautiful day.  Luckily we have had plenty of those on this trip.

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It doesn’t take long before you discover the petroglyphs.  The kids and I had a great time finding them and guessing what they were and what they could possibly mean to the people that left them.

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We hiked all three trails: Cliff base trail, Macaw Trail and our favorite, Mesa Point Trail.

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The top of Mesa Point Trail gives you this stunning view.

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We spent a little over an hour out at Boca Negra before sitting down at a picnic table and finishing up the Junior Ranger booklets. We headed back to the Visitor Center just before closing time to do our pledge and earn those badges and patches.

Boys are pretty proud of them 🤓 This was a really fun Junior Ranger program to do.

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We got another cancellation (stamp) for the Passport book ❤️❤️

Petroglyph National Monument “rocked”. Whats not to “lava” about it? 🤪 Have you been there?

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