We decided on hiking this year for our family adventure. The kids wanted to see the Southwest, so we visited Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, as well as a few other fun places along the way. This was our first family trip to this part of the country, and we really enjoyed exploring the desert landscape, mountains, various canyons and seeing all of the wildlife. We have seen numerous pictures and videos of the Grand Canyon and Zion, but honestly nothing compares to actually being there and experiencing it in person. These experiences are what makes me love to travel!
We had one week available at the beginning of July for this trip, so we decided to fly out to Las Vegas and rent a minivan to road trip to our destinations. I also created an itinerary to plan out our drive times and stops so we could see everything we wanted to see. I found us a good deal on a late night flight into Las Vegas, and we decided to stay in Las Vegas the first day to explore and do a few things the kids had picked out.
We walked around and saw The Fountains and the beautiful Conservatory & Botanical Garden at the Bellagio Hotel. We strolled along the Grand Canal at the Venetian Hotel and listened to the Gondoliers sing to their passengers. Our daughter is into everything Paris right now, so we splurged and went to the viewing deck of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. We also tasted our first macarons! We are big Avengers fans, and my son really wanted to check out Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. attraction. We did it as a family, and we all really enjoyed it! After all of our exploring, the kids were hot and tired, so we ended the day with a swim at the hotel pool.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden: https://bellagio.mgmresorts.com/en/entertainment/conservatory-botanical-garden.html
Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes: https://www.venetian.com/shops/grand-canal-shoppes.html
Paris Hotel Eiffel Tower Experience: https://www.caesars.com/paris-las-vegas/things-to-do/eiffel-tower
Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.: http://www.stationattraction.com/
The next day we got up early, stocked up on snacks and water, and started our drive. We stopped off at a roadside viewing area to take a look at Lake Mead Reservoir, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. We then stopped off at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, where we were able to get a great view of the Hoover Dam. My plan was to visit the Hoover Dam for a bit, but the kids were not interested in taking a tour, so we took some pictures, drove over it and got back on the road.
Hoover Dam: https://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/service/
We had lunch at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, in Kingman, AZ. It was a fun little place to check out and the kids liked seeing the historic cars and memorabilia they had there. After lunch we drove to Williams, AZ where we stayed for the night. Before calling it a day, we visited Bearizona Wildlife Park. They have a drive through wildlife viewing side of the park, that leads to the parking lot of the walk through side of the park. The kids thought it was pretty cool to be driving along and have a bear walk right along side of our car. We thought it was a nice park and really enjoyed it!
Bearizona Wildlife Park: https://bearizona.com/
The next morning we were up early and on our way to Grand Canyon National Park. The first sight of the Grand Canyon was awesome! It’s just so beautiful and majestic, I couldn’t stop taking pictures! We hiked along the South Rim and stopped off at various viewing points. We also drove over to the Desert View Watchtower, where the kids had fun exploring the tower. The kids were pretty tired after hiking all morning and part of the afternoon, so we didn’t think it was a good idea to hike the Bright Angel Trail. We agreed to do that next time we visited.
Grand Canyon National Park: https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
We decided to get on the road and headed to Lone Rock Beach in Utah. The beach was beautiful, and the water was refreshing! Unfortunately, our son cut his hand on something in the water, so we had to cut (no pun intended) our swim short, to go into town for first aid supplies. After, we had him bandaged up, we checked into our hotel in Page, AZ, and called it a night.
Lone Rock Beach: https://www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/camping.htm
The next morning, we got up early and stopped by Horseshoe Bend to snap a few pictures before we left Page.
Horseshoe Bend: https://horseshoebend.com/
We then made our way to Zion National Park. We entered through the east gate, and I have to say I’m so glad we did! It is a very scenic drive, and the kids loved driving through the tunnels they have carved through the mountains. We were lucky enough to find parking at the visitor’s center, and spent the day hiking multiple trails. We stuck to the easier trails for the kids, but they were still fun and we enjoyed exploring the park. After a full day of hiking, we headed to our hotel in La Verkin for the night.
Zion National Park: https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm
The next morning we slept in, enjoyed a big breakfast and headed back toward Las Vegas. We stopped at Valley of Fire State Park on our way. We snapped a few pictures of the park and walked around the visitor’s center. It was 115 degrees Fahrenheit that day, so we opted to drive through the park instead of hiking the trails. The kids were very thankful! We hit the pool once we checked into our hotel that afternoon. Our hotel also had a splash area and a few waterslides that the kids had fun on.
Valley of Fire State Park: http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire
Our last day we spent exploring the Adventuredome and The Midway at Circus Circus Hotel. At The Midway we were able to catch a few of their trapeze shows they do throughout the day, and play carnival and arcade games. At the Adventure Dome the kids rode rollercoasters, drove bumper cars, played laser tag, and rode other carnival rides. It was definitely a kids fun day!
Circus Circus Adventuredome: https://circuscircus.mgmresorts.com/en/adventuredome.html
We flew home the next day, and started researching other National Parks that we wanted to visit!
- Plan for at least 2 to 3 days stay when visiting a National Park. This was our first time visiting any National Park, and we wish we would have had a few more days at each, because there was so much to see and explore!
- I purchased an America the Beautiful Pass, and I’m glad I did! It cost us $85 total with shipping and handling, and will get us admission into National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. We believe it is a great investment for us, because we will be visiting multiple National Parks within the year.
- Be better prepared for emergencies. I had brought a small first aid kit along, but will make sure to add to it for our next trip. I also want to make sure to check what area hospitals and Urgent Care Clinics are covered by our insurance, so I’m better prepared for emergencies wherever we may be.