Okay, we have become a full-fledged travel family. I can officially say that after our 10 day Utah adventure – including hiking all over Southern Utah and fun in Park City – that Clark and Stone are the best travel buddies a mother could ever ask for. You see, we set out to see the great state of Utah over spring break and it was the trip of a lifetime.
We visited 3 out of the 5 national state parks, we had some of the best food I’ve ever had in a long time, and by the time we got to Park City, I was ready to indulge in a little retail therapy all thanks to full-day ski school for the boys. Due to the length of our trip, though, and the reality that the first five days were completely different from the last five days in Deer Valley, I am writing about our experience in two blog posts. This post will cover the first five days, which were in Southern Utah.
Utah is a beautiful state. It has always been on my bucket list even though I’m not what you would consider an outdoorsy person. I don’t particularly love camping – I mean I do but not the traditional kind that involves a tent. Lol. I’m more of a glamping kind of girl. But, I’ll always do whatever it takes to put a smile on Clark and Stone’s face.
I actually saw a picture of Bryce Canyon National Park while pregnant with Clark and it took my breath away. This was the moment that Utah landed on my travel bucket list. Throw in Zion National Park and Capitol Reef and it’s the trip of a lifetime. We literally had the time of our lives and I’m so excited to share.
First, we flew into Salt Lake City on a direct flight on March 20 to begin our Utah adventure. We got on the road to begin our drive from Salt Lake to Kanab, Utah which is 5 hours away. The boys were troopers. I mean, there is true magic in an iPad, to say the least. We did, however, take breaks from screen time by stopping to grab a bite to eat at a lovely restaurant in Provo, UT.
We had the most delicious lunch at Black Sheep Cafe and dessert at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Black Sheep Cafe has Navajo influence in its cuisine. The Navajo tacos are absolutely divine served on a dough similar to a pita wither either pork or beef. It was pure heaven. I also had jowl tacos, which are way better than they sound. It has a pork belly/ham flavor and it was insanely delicious. I simply can’t get this out of my mind. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is directly next door to Black Sheep Cafe and we finished our lovely desserts before we got back on the road. The salted caramel ice cream and the sticky pudding cake are to die for.
Kanab, Utah is the perfect location for visiting Southern Utah. It is located not too far from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park,
Lake Powell, Best Friends Animal Society and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National monument.
We stayed at Canyons Boutique Hotel in Kanab. It is the cutest hotel and they have a really good hot buffet breakfast included with your rate. The hotel is also dog-friendly and centrally located for a lot of the local attractions and restaurants.
Best Friends Sanctuary
Best Friends Sanctuary is a no-kill animal sanctuary home to nearly 1,600 animals. We had a great vegan lunch at Angel’s Village, located inside Angel Canyon which is completely breathtaking, before we began our tour.
The boys were on a high seeing all of the animals. Their first interaction involved feeding the bunny in the waiting area before our tour to begin. The staff was so nice and kind to offer Clark and Stone an opportunity to pet the bunny. They love rabbits. Then, we began our tour of the property.
After our visit, I now know why it’s not referred to as a shelter. It’s like being on a farm or a resort, but for animals. There are birds, dogs, horses, cats and even pigs that come from all over the US to Best Friends Sanctuary. The volunteers love taking care of the animals. It’s like a country club for animals with the sole purpose of finding them a loving home. Clark and Stone especially loved DogTown. This is where we got to play with puppies. Talk about a fun vacation.
Peekaboo Slot Canyon Tour
Forever Adventure Tours is the company we used to take us on our Peekaboo Slot Canyon tour. We began our journey in a little boys dream – an H2 Hummer. It was the perfect vehicle for the terrain in Utah. We drove and hiked through the most beautiful pink sand. We all enjoyed the one-mile hike of the Peekaboo Slot Canyon. The boys had the time of their lives hiking and climbing every rock in sight. Our driver also took us through Best Friends Sanctuary again. The view of Angel Canyon never gets old. It’s breathtaking.
Rocking V Cafe
Would you believe me if I told you Clark had the Scottish Salmon and became a member of the clean plate club? Rocking V Cafe had the best salmon I’ve had in a long time. It was absolutely delicious. We also had the trout, mac and cheese, Choco-pocalypse, which happens to be gluten and dairy free, and then the creme brulee.
Kanab Creek Bakery
The food at Kanab Creek Bakery tasted like we were in a little cafe in Europe. Paris to be exact. It has so many French influences all the way down to their artisan bread. Yet, very American with its locally sourced ingredients. Kanab Creek Bakery has mastered blending the best of both worlds. This place is amazing. I had the omelet with gruyere cheese and ham cooked to perfection. Clark and Stone enjoyed a croquette monsieur and potato salad. They also offer amazing coffee, which I had a big cup of. We finished the day with a chocolate chip cookie and Belgian sipping chocolate for the boys. Needless to say, it was a delicious day at Kanab Creek Bakery.
Peekaboo Woodfired Pizza
Located inside Flagstone Boutique Inn and Suites, Peekaboo Woodfired Pizza serves artisanal pizzas and a vegan and vegetarian menu. The garlic-parm mini bombs were a huge hit with the boys along with the grilled cheese. It was pretty impossible to believe the Impossible Burger wasn’t real meat. It was delicious. The live band that played on Friday night was great entertainment for the evening.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of Utah’s big 5 national parks. The Mighty Five National Parks are Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. We visited three out of the five. It was the first park we visited during our stay in Southern Utah. Zion National Park was also Utah’s first national park. How cool is that?
We began our visit with a ride on the shuttle bus to Zion National Park Lodge for lunch. After lunch, we began our adventure at Zion. We took a mile long hike and we were in complete awe of nature. We hiked along nature while gazing up at the many red rock cliffs with waterfalls. The park’s views are unreal. I can’t even begin to put it into words. We were at one with nature. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. We saw a family of deer along our hike, which was beautiful. The boys were like, “mommy look!” It was like we were smack dab in the middle of National Geographic. The trail is a great trail for little ones – it’s safe, not to steep and loads of beautiful views to keep their attention.
After our hike, we decided to take the shuttle to Zion Human History Museum. The museum highlights the park’s history – American Indian history and history of the early pioneers’ settlement. Insects, preserved plants and animals are some of the other objects that can be found inside the museum.
Bryce Canyon National Park
After Kanab, we headed towards Bryce Canyon National Park. We got on the road for a 1.5-hour drive. We were scheduled to arrive a little early before checking in to the
Best Western Bryce Canyon for the evening. We planned on only visiting Bryce Canyon the following morning, however, I had the luxury of scheduling a photo shoot with an amazing Utah photographer, Nicole Aston. We got to take photos directly in front of the Bryce Amphitheater. Pink and red spires, better known as the hoodoos, are a picture-perfect backdrop for any family photo.
We are excited to return during warmer temps to see the majestic colors of Bryce Canyon. The snow-capped spires are magical and pictures of the amphitheater are beautiful. Clark and Stone were in heaven at Bryce Canyon. It’s a little boy’s haven. My boys are so nature driven and fit right in. They live for the outdoors and to see this wonderful place during the springtime was so cool. They literally ask about Bryce Canyon every week. We even got to see the beautiful sunset at Sunset Point.
The next morning we checked out of Best Western Bryce Canyon and headed toward Torrey, Utah. We took in more of Bryce Canyon before we got on the road. Taking a scenic drive around the national park was just what we needed before our road trip began.
Stopping at Hell’s Backbone Grill for lunch was just what the doctor ordered. The restaurants in Utah are amazing. I don’t think I can reiterate it enough. Hell’s Backbone Grill was selected as a James Beard Award semifinalist two years in a row. The food is absolutely delicious. I had the best trout and sauteed kale I’ve had in my life and Stone raved about his grilled cheese.
After lunch, we headed to Anasazi State Museum. The Anasazi Puebloan village was one of the largest communities west of the Colorado River. We got to tour a six-room replica of a Puebloan home along with some of the original site. Inside the museum are artifacts from the site along with a gift shop. We also grabbed a quick bite at Magnolia’s Street Food, a local food truck with the best mushroom and goat cheese taco ever.
Later, we checked in to Red Sands Hotel in Torrey, Utah. Torrey, Utah was our overnight stay before visiting our last national park, Capitol Reef National Park. Red Sands Hotel is a brand new hotel with great rooms and customer service. The front desk staff was great. The hotel also has an indoor pool, an outdoor fire pit and a cute common area to curl up and read a book. At least that’s what I did.
We also enjoyed a lovely dinner at Rim Rock Restaurant. They had an amazing trout dish, smoked barbecue ribs and a chocolate pie that still gives me goosebumps.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is absolutely breathtaking just like the other parks. The park has a history of early pioneers and American Indians. We actually saw early petroglyphs on rock walls before taking our hike. Once we arrived at Capitol Reef, we stopped by the welcome center for the boys to complete their junior park ranger books. We watched a short film about the park’s history before we began our adventure. Before our hike, we stopped by the Gifford Homestead in Fruita Valley for one of their infamous pies. Sadly, they were sold out so the boys had ice cream and I had a coffee.
Our first stop was the petroglyph panel which shows rock carvings by early Native Americans. It’s so cool to see the early signs of civilization in Utah. The boys thought it was so cool. After taking it all in, we began our hike to Hickman Bridge. I am in awe at Clark and Stone’s ability to survive that hike. Clark and I didn’t have on appropriate shoes and we still hung in there. The hike to Hickman Bridge is about 1.4 miles, however, there about 15 hiking trails throughout Fruita depending on your personal trail capability. It was pretty sunny out during our visit so I’m glad I loaded on the sunscreen. We made it to the top of the bridge and were in awe. The views of the park are breathtaking along with the hike to the top.
I have to say, our trip to the three national parks left me in complete awe of nature. Clark and Stone were so proud of themselves for finishing their hike. They insist they are big hikers now and talked about it the whole way to Goblin Valley State Park. We spent several hours at Capitol Reef and got back on the road later than expected.
Goblin Valley State Park
We decided to stop at Goblin Valley State Park on our way to our last hotel before driving to Park City. The park is by far the coolest looking park I’ve ever seen. It looks like you’re on Mars. The rock formations literally look like little goblins from outer space. As a mom, this park made me feel the safest, as it’s one big flat land. The boys ran and ran around for hours. They were like kids in a candy store. If camping is your thing, Goblin Valley offers the most breathtaking views of the skies at night. The park rangers offer moon-lit hikes and telescopic tours. There is also a picnic area to enjoy a bite before or after your hike around Goblin Valley State Park.
We ended the night in Price, Utah where we checked in to Holiday Inn Express and Suites. This is where we stayed before we headed to Park City. Southern Utah is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Many people look outside the United States for their bucket list destinations, however, the lovely state of Utah has been on my list forever. I am over the moon with our spring break choice this year. This was the trip of a lifetime.
Utah, We Love You
Utah truly has so much to offer. Clark and Stone have a two-week spring break and we chose Utah as our vacation destination for spring break because you literally get two different vacation experiences without leaving the beautiful state of Utah. I’m so glad we started our trip with Southern Utah. It was everything I could’ve hoped for and so much more.
Professional Photography: Nicole Aston
This trip was sponsored but our experience was priceless.