Author: Alyssa Craig
With all the amazing destinations our great state has to offer, it is not surprising that summertime is almost synonymous with road trips for many Utah families. If you have a road trip on this summer’s to-do list, consider some of these must see attractions close to home!
Located in the northern tip of the state, Bear Lake is a majestic location with a variety of activities available for all ages. The deep blue color of the water has even earned it its nickname of “Caribbean of the Rockies”.
Recreation options range from water activities such as boating, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing and fishing to hiking to nearby caves. For lodging, Bear Lake offers an assortment of options – quaint inns, rentals for larger groups, cabins and many campgrounds both close to and away from the water. Restaurants and small grocery stores are available for food options. Don’t forget to try one of their famous raspberry shakes!
Tucked back in the Rockies, Midway is a gorgeous destination that is not to be missed! One of its many beauties, the Homestead Crater, is a 55’ marvel that has been created over the last 10,000 years. The mineral water inside stays about 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit year round. This hot pot is great for scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling and even paddle board yoga!
Children are welcome, though young children must wear swim diapers. The surrounding Midway area is also perfect for ATV riding, river rafting, mountain biking, and fly fishing. Lodging is available at a resort, a few B&Bs, and inns.
Dinosaur National Monument
If you like history mixed with outdoor adventure, this is the vacation spot for you. Here you will see real dinosaur fossils, ancient petroglyphs and learn about the various groups of people that lived in the area, with evidence of inhabitation going back as far as 10,000 years! If you bring the kids, make sure you pick up an activity book for them to complete while they look at the carvings and fossils. The national park also provides opportunities for river rafting and hiking. Camping is available within the national park and hotels are located in surrounding areas.
Natural Bridges National Monument
Established by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1908, Natural Bridges National Monument is the oldest national park in the state of Utah. From three magnificent natural bridges, ancient ruins, hikes and the darkest sky in the country, there are many attractions to enjoy at all times of the day and night.
Kids can stop by any of the visitors centers and pick up a free activity book, the completion of which lets them become Junior Rangers and earn an official badge! Hotels and restaurants are available in nearby Blanding.
Grafton Ghost Town
First settled in 1861, destroyed by the Great Flood of 1862 and rebuilt in the same year, Grafton is now a ghost town located just south of Zion National Park. With its beautiful surroundings and rustic feel, it is no wonder this town has been use for western movies, paintings and photographs. Some of the buildings have been restored, giving you a true feel of how the town looked in its prime. Because of its closeness to Zion, there are many hotels as well as camping opportunities in the nearby area, as well as restaurants.
Road Trip Tips
Now that you have made your destination selection, here are are five simple tips to make sure you have a successful road trip:
- Make a Plan, but be Flexible! It is important when going on a road trip to plan for routes, lodging and gas station locations in advance. But half the fun of a road trip is also going off the beaten path and doing things a little differently. If there is a cool scenic stop or you pass a sign advertising the state’s largest rubber band, don’t be afraid to go off schedule and make a fun stop!
- Get the Car Ready. Make sure your car has had a recent oil change, is clean, and everything is running smoothly. If you’ve been considering buying a new car, now is the time to do it. What better way to initiate a car into the family than with a road trip! Check out local specials and make a goal to buy your new car before your big trip.
- Prepare Activities for the Kids. If you are taking the whole family, road trips are a great opportunity to unplug and play good, old-fashion games together. Bring a deck of cards, some crossword puzzles and teach your kids simple games like “I Spy” to keep them occupied and interacting with each other.
- Put Together an Emergency Kit. This includes a first aid kit, blankets, extra food, some water bottles and anything else you might wish you had if anything happened and you were stranded in the middle of nowhere for a time. You might also consider purchasing a roadside assistance program.
- Make Sure You Have Good Tunes. Whether this means bringing your favorite CD collection, buying satellite radio or creating mix CDs of the best dashboard drumming music, no road trip is complete without some jam sessions. These are great for helping add variety to what might otherwise feel like too long of a drive and can get everyone in the car feeling in a great mood!
Wherever you go this summer, make sure you check out some of Utah’s lesser known treasures and explore this beautiful state we have right at our fingertips. Safe travels!
About the Author
Alyssa Craig is a Salt Lake City native who loves hiking in the mountains, running, frozen yogurt, and quick wit. She is a professional writer and loves perusing the many posts in the blogosphere. In her free time, you can find her escaping the world on her hammock or watching re-runs of “Friends”.