Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Utah, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

WillowWind RV Park: Campground Review

For our time in Hurricane, Utah, we stayed at WillowWind RV Park. They offer mostly back-in sites, some pull-throughs, as well as a few teepees to sleep in. They offer 20/30/50 amps, WIFI, cable (if you bring your own coaxial cable), laundry, and a clubhouse. Their rates were for 2 people and you have to pay for any others over two. When we booked, they were still cheaper, even with having to pay for the kids, than other campgrounds available in the area.

It is close to grocery stores, restaurants, and the post office. They do sell ice, although they did tell me at check-in that it was cheaper at the local grocery store. There were a few times that we walked to the grocery store, Wendy’s, and the post office since they were only a couple of blocks away. There are even more options for restaurants and shopping (Target, Costco, Walmart, etc.) in St. George, which is about 15-20 minutes away.

Office, fire pit by office, laundry room by office, and gym

There are two laundry rooms: one by the office and one by the rear bath bathrooms/shower house. We used the laundry by the office. Both were close to us, but once the loads were started, we would go to the clubhouse and the boys could play pool. The laundry room had plenty of machines, a single use detergent vending machine, and a table for folding. The cost per load of laundry varied. They had regular sized washers for $2.00/load and the dryer $1/load. The laundry room by the office had a mega washer that could hold up to 5 loads. This washer was $4.25/load and the neighboring commercial sized dryer cost $0.25/8 minutes.

Back shower/bath house. The second laundry room is the middle door, with bathrooms/showers on either side. The outdoor dog wash is the green tub on the side of the building.

The campground was dog friendly (had a dog fenced in area by office, outdoor dog wash tub by rear bathhouse, a walking area in back). There was a small gym, a clubhouse (offered books, puzzles, a kitchen, and a pool table), community fire pits (located by the office and rear bathhouse), and a horseshoe pit in the back. Individual sites did not have picnic tables, firepits, or grills. I did see a few charcoal grills around (one by the teepees, a few by a lane of RVs). There also wasn’t a swimming pool, which in the 100+ degrees, would have been nice.

Clubhouse

The sites were paved, had grass, and trees for shade. They did have sprinklers for the grass that went off every day. One of the sprinklers seemed to be awfully close to our electric box. Several long term residents had sprinkler guards (similar to these*) set up to protect their electric where it plugs in at the box. We used an empty plastic bin to keep the water off and it seemed to work. The campground seemed to be a mix of travelers and long term residents. Everything was well maintained. Our neighbor to the right had a large collection of outdoor plants on an amazing set of shelves. I was totally jealous of all her green. We only brought Nick’s Venus fly traps! I do miss having more plants, but we just don’t have the room for them.

There were several state parks and National Parks nearby. The three closest National Parks were Zion (25-35 minutes), Bryce (2.15 hrs), and the Grand Canyon (2.5 hrs to North Rim). Of course, our definition of close is changing the longer we are on this trip. Two hours would have been an entire day trip before, but now it’s like “well, that’s pretty close, let’s go for a few hours”!

The boys have made one of their campground tour videos again!

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3.5 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Back-in, some pull-through

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: No

Amenities: Cable, community fire pits, club house with pool table, gym, horseshoe pit, dog wash and fenced area

Cabins: No

Tent Camping: No

Full Hook-ups: Yes. 20/30/50 Amps at each site.

Pool: No

WiFi: Yes

Food On-Site: No, close to grocery and fast food (some in walking distance)

Camp Store: No

Fishing: No

*Affiliate link

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Utah, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Zion National Park: Canyon Overlook Trail

Yesterday was a boring day at the RV. Lots of school work for the boys, work for Ben, and I worked on some outdoor maintenance on the RV.

With our time coming to an end at Zion, I still wanted to get to the Canyon Overlook Trail. After everyone’s work was done for the day, we headed off to Zion. This trail is off of the Zion-Mt. Caramel Highway, right after the tunnel, so you do not need a shuttle pass. Parking is tight. There is only a small lot (compact cars only) with a bathroom across from the trail. However, there are more parking options further up the road (a mix of parking lots and off road parking). We had to drive for a while, turn around, and then come back to find a spot. It was totally worth it though!

This trail begins with stone steps going up the side of the hill. As you walk up, you get a great view of the tunnel. Some of the spots are narrow, some are against the edge of the hillside. There are railings along some of the edges, so no worries about falling over (which if you know my klutziness and Nick, you can understand the worry). You cross a walkway/bridge and come to this great natural overhang. It provided a lot of shade and was a nice break from the sun. There were some plants growing along the back wall, which made for a really neat spot to take a break.

The trail has some really neat rock formations. There were also a few spots for the boys to climb, which is always a big hit. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, only a lizard and a chipmunk. The chipmunks here are fast! Our chipmunks back home must be lazy, because they don’t move anywhere near as fast as these ones do.

At the end of the trail is the overlook. You can see the road leading up to the tunnel, Zion Canyon, Pine Creek Canyon, Bridge Mountain, West Temple, Alter of Sacrifice, Streaked Wall, and the Sentinel. They have a sign that points out the different views, which I really found helpful.

It was a great hike and I am glad we got it in!

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Museum. The museum itself is closed (COVID), but you can park in the parking lot and take a trail or look at the views. There are a few informational signs around, one of which is about a natural bridge (arch) along the mountainside. I never would have noticed it without the sign, it blended in so well. We also saw a whiptail lizard along the fence line.

Every time we drive back to the campground from Zion, we pass a historical marker sign. We had never stopped before, but today I decided to see what it was. It was the coolest marker ever. The mesa on the other side of the road has a rocket sled test track! I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

Posted in: Exploring Utah, Food, Injuries

Cleaning, Postcards, and The Best Surprise In Hurricane!

We were still a little sore from the Narrows hike. We decided to take another day off from hiking. There is still at least one more hike I want to do in Zion before we leave.

We cleaned the inside of the RV today, caught up on correspondences, and basically stayed within the campground. In the afternoon, we learned that family just happened to be coming into town that day to visit Zion!

We met Anne and Tim for dinner at River Rock Roastery for drinks and dinner. It was so nice to see friendly faces we knew! We managed to get a seat outside and while it was a little warm in the sun, the company was great and the food was pretty good too. 😉 Thank you guys for dinner and such a great evening!!

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Utah, Hiking, Injuries, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Zion Adventures: The Narrows

Our passes weren’t until 11:00, so we packed up some snacks and lots of water. Everyone dressed in wicking clothes so we would dry off faster. We headed towards Zion a little early because I was worried about parking. The Visitor Lot fills up really quickly and although you can park in the town of Springdale and take their shuttle to Zion, I really wanted to park inside the park. I figured that after hiking we would be tired and would want to be able to leave as soon as possible.

We picked up our hiking gear (Zion Guru) and went into the park. I would say we got there around 9:45/10:00 am and the lot was half to 3/4 full. We had already put on our socks and boots at the store. Zion’s Visitor Center was closed (COVID), but they had lots of informational signs outside. We read those for a while and then attended a Ranger Program at 10:30. It was about mountain lions and was pretty interesting. Did you know they can leap 45 feet?!

A little before 11:00 we boarded the shuttle and headed in. We were going to do the Narrows hike that does not require a permit (Bottom-Up), the one that starts at the end of Riverside Trail (stop 9 on the shuttle). It is listed as a moderate to strenuous trail; how hard the hike is depends on water depth and flow.

The start of The Narrows Trail at the end of Riverside Trail.

It was surprisingly busy. The river was pretty shallow at the entrance point here, although it is still cold. You could probably walk here with just sandals on. The farther in you go, there are sections that got up to upper thigh on me. (Later in the hike, we heard other people talking that it was chest high farther down. The man was at least 6 foot tall, so I’m glad we didn’t get that far!)

Some spots in the river were clear and you could see the rocks and judge your path. Some spots were murky, I’m not sure if it was the crowd that stirred it up or the algae, but you couldn’t see the bottom. We were so glad to have the hiking poles to test the depth in front of us.

We saw plants growing from the walls, lots of different sizes and colors of rocks, Mystery Falls (a waterfall), Wall Street (narrowest part), and the Floating Rock (boulder in the middle of the river). We made it a little past the floating rock and decided to turn around. The Narrows is an in-and-out hike, and we were already tired. Everyone, except Will, had fallen at least once.

On our way back, Nick fell several more times in a row. We stopped and made sure he ate some peanut butter crackers and drank more water. After resting a few minutes, we started back again.

Ben jarred his back when he stepped in a hole. I tripped on a rock I couldn’t see and fell face first into the water. I will say I am glad we had on the water shoes that went above the ankle. I am sure I would have twisted something if I was in gym shoes. Will was still the winner at the end of the trail and had not fallen once!

We were exhausted when we were done. The shuttle line was long, and I would say we waited 45-60 minutes. We did see some deer and wild turkey while we waited. (YouTube video of walking the line for the shuttles.)

We returned our gear and headed home to take showers.

It was a once in a lifetime experience and really neat! If you were to hike the Narrows, I would definitely recommend renting equipment. The neoprene socks helped with the cold water and not having wet cotton socks rubbing on our feet was definitely a plus. The water shoes/boots were surprisingly helpful. Even the broom handle-ish walking stick seemed better suited than our normal walking sticks.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Utah, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Zion National Park: We Got Passes!

Ben and I ran into Muddy Bee Bakery and grabbed some items for breakfast: a raspberry lemon scone, a cinnamon roll, a loaf of sourdough, and breakfast sandwiches.

The breakfast sandwiches were the best!

We were able to get afternoon passes for the shuttle and headed up. The Visitor Center parking lot was packed, but we managed to find a spot.

The shuttle is running a lower capacity (about 33 people per shuttle-which is made of two buses each) due to COVID. Our first driver was great and pointed out several of the scenes in Zion along the route. We saw a few deer along the drive as well.

There were a few trails I had on my list, but several were closed due to rock falls (stops 2, 3, 4, and 7). We decided to walk the Riverside Trail (stop 9, the final stop). It is completely paved and ends at the river where the Narrows trail begins. It is a pretty easy walk, about 2 miles. The trail goes through a swamp area (crazy in the middle of a desert) and gives you peeks at the river. Some of the rock walls along the trail were seeping water. Different plants and flowers were growing out of the rocks near these spots and made for some very pretty scenery.

There are signs everywhere saying not to feed the wildlife (in particular a lot of “don’t feed the squirrels”). These squirrels are ballsy. They come right up to you and beg for food. You know how Custer State Park had begging burros? Zion definitely has begging squirrels.

We had to wait a little bit for the shuttle back, but it wasn’t too long.

We were able to get passes for the next day in the early afternoon and decided to hike the Narrows. We rented equipment from Zion Guru. The store was in Springdale, which is right outside the gates to Zion. It was $25/person and you got a hiking pole, neoprene water socks, and water shoes/boots.

Note: The park does state to wear a mask, but it is not really well enforced. There were people who kind of had it on for the shuttle and once boarded took it off.

Posted in: Exploring Utah, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Zion Adventures: A Tunnel And A Mesa

Zion is only 25-35 minutes away from our campground. We couldn’t get Zion Shuttle passes for our first couple of days there. In Zion during the main season, you need to park at the Visitor Center and take a shuttle along the Scenic Drive, the main road through the park. The shuttle passes have to be bought ($1/each) on recreation.gov. They go on sale each morning at 9:00 am MT for the next day. The morning and early afternoon passes go super fast, so get on right away to get the best time. If you are going in October, they are sold a little more in advance according to the website.

However, there is another way to see Zion if you can’t get passes right away! If you enter on the South Entrance, you enter through the Park Gates (they do check for passes/admission), and come to a split in the road. One goes to Scenic Drive (shuttle only right now) and the other goes on to the Zion-Mt. Caramel Highway, which you can drive on in your own vehicle. (If you enter on the East Entrance, you also pass through park gates and are already on this road. I believe it is also State Route 9.) You can find several trails and parking pull-outs along the road. You also drive through an awesome tunnel made in 1930. It is a mile long with windows cut out of the mountain. The windows were created for air, but also offer nice scenic views as you drive by. There are height restrictions though.

About the tunnel. You can see one of the windows in the mountain side.

The drive is worth it just for this tunnel! 🙂 There is another smaller tunnel along the road as well.

On the other side of the tunnel, you will find various trails and pull-outs. The landscape is really neat. The rock looks like it is layered. Ben called is phyllo dough rock, which is what it looked like!

We stopped at a pull-out to look at Checkerboard Mesa, which Will had just learned about in class! There was also someone painting in the parking lot.

It was towards the end of the day, so we didn’t do any hiking, but I did find a trail there that I want to do before we leave.

~Sarah

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Utah, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Bryce Canyon National Park

Today we drove to Bryce Canyon (about 2.25 hours from the campground). We wanted to see the hoodoos, so we looked for the best trail to take. (And by best, I mean the best that we could actually hike!) We looked in the National Parks* book and on the AllTrails app. We ended up taking a combo trail from the All Trails app for Wall Street and Queens Garden.

It was a great trail and really worked out our legs! The incline and switch backs made sure everyone was tired at the end. The views were incredible though. The combo trail was a loop trail, so we ended up back near the parking lot.

At the end of trail, near the parking lot, we ran into another family heading into the trail as we were heading out. They were a large group, with 5 or 6 kids. No one was wearing a mask and they were taking up almost the whole path. We had our masks up and stepped off to the side to let them by. Their kids were running everywhere. The dad noticed us and said, “Let’s move out of the way so they can get by.” Awesomesauce. We said thank you and started moving past them, when he adds “Make sure to stay 6 feet away or we’re all going to die.” Seriously? I didn’t mock you for not wearing a mask. We just waited by the side so you could get by and we could then go. There was no reason to add the sarcastic comment. If you don’t believe in wearing a mask, fine, but you don’t have to be rude. Especially if someone isn’t being rude to you. Ok, I’m done venting.

We got back to the truck and ate lunch. We drove around the park for a little bit seeing different overlooks/pull-offs. On our way out of the park, we stopped and walked Inspiration Point. It had some amazing views overlooking all the hoodoos. There are three levels to this path/observation points, but each one has a great view.

There are several tourist shops outside of the park. We stopped at a gift shop on our way home. There was a sign on door that said the state of Utah was “recommending” masks, but they were not required to enter their store. We picked up some postcards and a couple of other items, but we tried to be really quick.

Utah is by far the worst state so far for mask wearing. I would say 90%+ are not wearing masks outside, and even inside at least 50% are not. Right now it is up to each county if they require masks or not. Moab was much better at requiring masks to be worn indoors, although outdoors was still bad.

I am glad we went to see Bryce. The landscape was amazing and very surreal to hike through and then see from up above.

*Amazon affiliate link

Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Utah, YouTube Video Link

Spanish Trail RV Park: Campground Review

For our first stop in Utah, we stayed at the Spanish Trail RV Park in Moab, UT.

The campground had a laundry room, pool and hot tub, and fenced in dog area. There were also waste bags along the fence line for dog clean up. It seemed like it had a good layout. The boys made a YouTube video of the campground.

Top: shower/bath house, pool, office

The pool is nice, with a few fountains off the side shooting in and a basketball hoop. The pool is not heated, so it will cool you off on a hot day. The hot tub is off to the side of the pool. There is a changing/bathroom and an outdoor shower in the pool area as well.

The office was small and only offered a few things for sale, although they do have brochures for local attractions. They did sell ice for $2.75/bag (City Market, aka Kroger, had for $1.99/bag with loyalty card) and also had some individual ice cream items (most were $1.75). The office closed at 5:00pm. They do lock the ice after hours, so get any ice you need before then. There was a spot on the office desk for outgoing mail. TIP: There is a small holder of postcards on a shelf for $1/each of area landscapes with the Milky Way. You can get these for free in various Biz Card holders around town (Two places that I know of: McStiff’s Plaza-outdoors on side of wall near right side of their parking lot and Red Rock Bakery-inside towards the back). There was also a lounge attached to the office, but was closed for COVID.


The campground offers Wi-Fi and cable. We didn’t have much luck with the cable, just a few channels, and the WiFi was the standard campground kind.

The laundry room was nice. It was even air conditioned! There were plenty of machines and there was a change machine in the room as well. A wash cycle cost $2.25 and the dryer $1.50.

The shower/bathhouse was amazing. It was the nicest one so far. There were separate rooms that contained a toilet and shower with locking doors.

I believe the campground is all RV spots, with most sites being pull-through. We had a 50 amp site, which we definitely needed in the heat to run both A/C units. No tents/gazebos/pop-ups are allowed. There are trees and grass at each site. The trees help a little with the heat. We had an end of the row site, which was great for parking, but meant that we only had shade on one side. If you wanted more shade, I would try to get a spot further in so you get trees on both sides.

Each site had a picnic table with a concrete pad that sits right next to your RV steps. No fire pits or grills are provided in the campground. Utah also had fire bans going while we were there.

The campground is close to town (7-10 minutes), Arches (15-20 minutes), and Canyonlands (45-60 minutes depending on traffic). There are several grocery stores in town, although pricing seems a little higher here than back home. We mostly shopped at City Market (Kroger) for the fuel points and coupons.

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, some back-in

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: No

Amenities: Picnic table, cable, fenced dog area

Cabins: No

Tent Camping: No

Full Hook-ups: Yes. 30 or 50 Amps.

Pool: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes, extremely limited

Fishing: No

 

 

Posted in: Exploring Utah, Food, Sightseeing

Trying Local Bakeries

Friday the boys did not have live school sessions, so we ran moved back the start of school by an hour and ran into Moab to try some of the local bakeries. They were usually open from 7:00 am until 12 or 2pm. It hadn’t worked out yet to try them with school hours.

We found a parking spot near our first stop, Red Rock Bakery. We grabbed a plain and an everything bagel with cream cheese. They were delicious! It is a really cute bakery.

We walked over to Doughbird. It is a super cute donut shop. They also sell chicken at 11:00, but we were too early for that. Nick was very disappointed. We got an Oreo Cheesecake, a Caramel Apple Pie, and Raspberry Delight donuts. These looked like more artisan type of donuts.

Next stop was just for me…coffee! It was a very nice mocha, which I really enjoyed. We also got a cinnamon roll there.

Our final stop was at The Donut Shop. This shop had more traditional donuts. We bought a few donut holes, a Bavarian Cream with chocolate icing (like a Boston Cream), a raised glaze, and a Raspberry Bismark (filled).

Donuts were definitely more expensive in Moab than at home. A glaze was $1 and the other donuts were $2 to $3 per donut.

We brought our goodies home and cut them up so everyone could experience each one.

The Raspberry Delight and Raspberry Bismark were everyone’s favorites for the donuts.

After breakfast, the boys worked on homework. When they were done with school for the day, I took them to the pool and worked on laundry.

It was the night before we left for our next stop, so we also started getting ready and packing up. It was a pretty good day.

Posted in: Exploring Utah, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

Hole N” The Rock

We had always turned left out of the campground to head into Moab. This time Ben wanted to turn right and see what was the other way.

After driving for a little bit, we came across the Hole N” The Rock. It’s hard to miss with a Jeep sitting on top of the rock and huge white letters painted on the rock face. We stopped in and walked around the outside. They have a petting zoo, a couple of stores (souvenir/gift shop type of stores), and a few wacky outside decorations. There is also the “hole in the rock”, which is a house built into the rock. It started as a homesteading site in the 1940’s. A couple dug out their home in the side of the sandstone. They created a diner that catered to local miners and later added a gift shop. There is a 12 minute tour of the inside of the house for $6.50/person.

They didn’t have electricity in the house until the 1960’s! The inside is incredible, and just goes to show what people can do when they don’t have video games (Ben’s pep talk to the boys to encourage them to do more instead of playing on electronics.). The house is quirky and honestly, they must have been bored out of their minds with no electricity to get it all done. The bathtub itself is carved out of the rock, which is pretty cool to see.

I would say it is worth the side trip if you are near Moab (it is maybe 15-20 minutes from town). We did not go to the petting zoo, just took the house tour and browsed the stores and the outside grounds.

After the tour, we went back towards Moab and stopped at Lop’s Pop Stop (a soda stand). The boys tried Gummy Bear water (made with fruit juice and puree) and I tried a Happy Camper soda.

We were getting a little hungry and saw a local diner (Milt’s Stop & Eat) that was crowded, so we gave it a try. We ordered an onion ring, fries, cheeseburgers, and one cheeseburger with fried bacon and an egg on top. Everything was very tasty. We continued further into town and stumbled upon a local outdoor market. They had puppies to pet, so I got my dog fix in! We got some groceries and headed home.