Junior Ranger Program
Canyon de Chelly (d'SHAY) is a labyrinth of canyons where red rock walls range in height from 30' to over 1,000'. On the canyon floor there are streams, cottonwoods and small farms. It is a sacred place, inhabited for nearly 5,000 years. It's silence beckons you to stop and enjoy it's beauty.
The National Monument is comprised of two scenic drives: North Rim (good for morning photos and South Rim (good for afternoon photos). There are overlooks along both roads giving the visitor different perspectives and views. Look for ruins of civilizations past built within the eroded walls.
There is only one hike that is open to visitors without a guide: White House Ruin. It is a 2.5 mile round-trip hike. Allow two hours as you will be descending 600 feet to the canyon floor. Bring sunscreen, hat, and plenty of water.
NOTE: The best way to really appreciate the beauty of this place is to take a Navajo-guided tour. We were going to do this but honestly, I didn't think my kids were old enough to appreciate and understand the history and stories of the guide. After research, I had wanted to choose Beauty Way Jeep Tours, a family run operation that has been around for 60 years. If you are interested in a guided tour, please check out their website at: http://canyondechellybeautywayjeeptours.com/
Year round park hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
**Note: Navajo Nation observes Mountain DAYLIGHT SAVING Time from March through the end of October while the rest of Arizona observes Mountain STANDARD Time. When it is 1 p.m. in Flagstaff, Arizona it is 2 p.m. at Hubbell Trading Post.**
There is no entrance fee.
The Visitor Center is 3 miles (4.8 km) from Route 191 in Chinle, AZ.
"Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, intriguing petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure." We visited the Utah side of the park which is the only side that offers dinosaur fossils.
To Do: There is an easy driving tour called Tour of Tilted Rocks that winds through beautiful desert landscapes to a few stops that are easy accessible without a lot of effort. A couple of the best stops are to view some of the Fremont people petroglyphs, and the other is at the Josie Bassett Morris Homestead (one heck of a lady for her day).
The highlight of the park is the Quarry Exhibition Hall where you can view the wall of approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones! There are remains of different dinosaur species such as: Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodicus, and Stegosaurus to name a few. There are places where you are encouraged to touch real 149 million year old dinosaur fossils! From here, we went on a Ranger-led walk along the Fossil Discovery Trail where the kids got to try their hand at discovering fossils since in the rocks!
Camping: There are six campgrounds located around the monument with three on the Utah side and another three on the Colorado side. We choose the Green River campground which was close to the river and the shortest distance to the Dinosaur Quarry. There was no hook-ups or showers but there was flush toilets. Not all campgrounds accommodate RV's so check their website for more information.
There is a Junior Ranger program so don't miss out!
Located a half hour northwest of Columbia, SC, Dreher Island State Park is spectacular! First, it's location cannot be beat. The park consists of three islands that jut out into beautiful Lake Murray. This provides excellent lake views just about any place you are hanging out. There are two camping loops, both with many lakefront sites that can accommodate rigs up to 45 feet (trailers 30 feet). Sites are roomy, scenic and the campground is well-maintained. Lake Murray is one of the best-known largemouth and striped bass fishing destinations in the South. Fish from shore. bring your boat from home or r rent one. Boat delivery to your campsite is available from outside vendors. Don't have an RV or tent? Beautiful Island Villas are available for rent too. Either way you decide to stay, there will be plenty of things to do or you can choose my favorite activity.... do nothing but relax!
Ninety-Seven paved sites located on two loops may be used by both RVs and tents, while 15 sites are for tent campers only. Each site has water and electrical hook-ups and a picnic table. Many sites accommodate RVs up to 45 feet, others up to 30 feet. There is a dump station available as well. All sites are convenient to hot showers and restrooms. Leashed pets are allowed!
Five lakeside villas include linens, basic cooking and eating utensils, heat, air conditioning, gas fire logs, microwave, satellite television, complimentary wi-fi, automatic coffee maker, screened porch, outside grill and picnic table. A three-bedroom villa is user friendly for the physically impaired.
Pets are not permitted in villas or villa areas.
Please visit website for pricing, reservation information and more details.
Boat Launch & Ramp
Dump Stations (Camping & Marine)
Hard to get to and hard to forget! Situated close to the border of Utah, this park rises from the desert floor to lush forest with lots of wildlife. The impressive Lehman Cave tour is a must. There is a Junior Ranger Program and the rangers offer other programs such as astronomy.
All Great Basin National Park Campsites are first come - first served. Reservations are not available for overnight camping. There is a choice of five campgrounds. We stayed at Wheeler Peak which is spectacular. To get to this campground, note that the road is closed to single vehicles or trailers in excess of 24 feet in length. The road is narrow, winding, and climbs an 8% grade in 12 miles.
Recommend the Alpine Lake Loop Trail (2.7 miles) which connects to the Bristlecone Trail that takes you to an ancient bristlecone pine grove.
Please note that having a pet with you will limit your activities in Great Basin National Park. Kennel services are not available in or around the park.
Indian Cove Campground lies among steep rock formations and open sandy desert. Most sites are "tent only" but there are a handful of RV sites. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.
7299 Indian Cove Road, Twentynine Palms CA 92277
There are only 25 RV sites in the park with a maximum vehicle length of 35'
Best sites: 002, 003, 021, 022, and 088 for max length 35' and oo6 (max 30')
Best sites if you are going with friends: Sites 043 and 044 are side by side which is perfect with camping with friends. There is a 25' limit here.
There is no access into the main portion of the park from the campground except by hiking trails; entry at other entry points requires a park entrance fee separate from the campground fee.
Pets OK (but prohibited on trails)
Water is only available at Ranger Station at campground entrance
Hiking trails within campground
See website for current pricing
"Joshua Tree National Park is immense, nearly 800,000 acres, and infinitely variable. It can seem unwelcoming, even brutal during the heat of summer when, in fact, it is delicate and extremely fragile. This is a land shaped by strong winds, sudden torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Rainfall is sparse and unpredictable. Streambeds are usually dry and waterholes are few. Viewed in summer, this land may appear defeated and dead, but within this parched environment are intricate living systems waiting for the opportune moment to reproduce. The individuals, both plant and animal, that inhabit the park are not individualists. They depend on their entire ecosystem for survival." National Park Service Website
You really have to visit Joshua Tree National Park to truly appreciate its beauty. The iconic Joshua Trees are everywhere, some have been around for a very long time. You can tell by their multiple limbs casting strange shadows toward the end of the day.
There are many activities to partake here in this desert landscape including: *Backcountry Roads, Geology Motor Tour, Hiking, Nature Walks, Photography, Ranger & Junior Ranger programs, Rock Climbing and Stargazing.
We have done one hike in the park which is called Lost Palms Oasis which was a 7.3 mile out and back hike. It is not recommended for small ones. We have mostly down the Nature Walks. Our favorites are:
Barker Dam, Cholla Cactus Garden (a must), Cottonwood Springs, Oasis of Mara, and Skull Rock.
There are 9 different campgrounds offering about 500 developed campsites. Most campgrounds in Joshua Tree are first-come, first-served, throughout the year. Reservations are available for Black Rock and Indian Cove campgrounds during the busy season from October through May.
Bring water with you!! Water is available at only a few locations around the edges of the park:
Black Rock Campground
Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms
Indian Cove Ranger Station (no RV water access)
West Entrance (no RV water access)
Plan ahead and bring at least two gallons of water per person, per day for your trip to Joshua Tree.
There are no hookups for RVs at any campground in Joshua Tree. Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds have RV-accessible potable water and dump stations. At Hidden Valley and White Tank Campgrounds, RVs and trailers may not exceed a combined maximum length of 25 feet.
Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of the camps where Japanese American citizens were interned during World War II. This is no entrance fee to the site. There is an extensive visitor center as well as walking and driving tours.
This is great for older kids who are studying World War II or California history. There is also a Junior Ranger program available for all ages.
"Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States." National Park Service
There is a lot to do at this park including guided (see directory pages for Cliff House and Balcony House tours) and self-guided hikes to different cliff dwellings. A couple of hikes we did was to Far View Sites (flat on top of the plateau) and the Step House which is a steep trail down to the dwellings.
Other activities include: cross country skiing (in winter), evening programs, stargazing, photography, research center, museum, and Junior Ranger program!!!
Park open year round, however, operation hours change as well as availability of some features of the park.
Entrance fee high season: $15 and low season $10
Morefield Campground is just 4 miles inside Mesa Verde. There are 267 sites that include a table, bench, and grill. Camping is open to tents, trailers and RVs, including 15 full hookup RV sites that require reservations. Several hikes leave from the campground. Additionally, campground is close to Morefield's village. Here you will find a gas station, RV dumping station, coin-operated laundry, complimentary showers, a gift shop and grocery store.
Mesa Verde National Park is in Southwestern Colorado. The Mesa Verde Headquarters is a one-hour drive from Cortez, Colorado, heading east on Highway 160 to the park turnoff, and a 1.5 hour drive from Durango, Colorado, heading west on Highway 160 to the park turnoff.
What's not to say about Zion? It is a beautiful park located in the southern portion of Utah. There is countless opportunities for adventure for all ages. Note that Zion National Park does use a free shuttle bus system during peak seasons. This may be a bit cumbersome for those traveling with strollers. There are hikes that are flat and paved which are great choices for the newly walking or strollers as well.
There are two campgrounds in Zion Canyon (here the attractions) and there is another called Lava Point Campground located about 1-hour away from Zion Canyon. They do offer reservations at Watchman campground, however, not for "day-of." We arrived in the evening and it was full. Website advises that "...all campgrounds are often full by noon on weekdays and in the morning on weekends. From mid-March through November the campgrounds are full almost every night." We stayed at Zion Canyon Campground (Directory listing available). Note too that many campsites offer little to no shade and it is very warm in the summer.
Note: Only 95 camping spots offer electric - there are no full hook-up sites!
Riverside Walk runs along the Virgin River - it's flat and paved!
Weeping Rock - my favorite from childhood - brief ascent to a overhand of a rock that weeps water over verdant ferns
Emerald Pools - Another childhood favorite where you hike to a few emerald green pools. Slight ascent but easy
Red Rocks Grill at Zion Lodge - Open for for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We decided to skip the picnic on this trip and just eat lunch at the lodge. Troy and I had eaten here before out on the terrace, however, it was closed on this day because of a wasp nest. They do offer a kids menu and the food is good although a little expensive.
Other activities: Have lunch at the Lodge, horseback riding (age limits apply), and Junior Ranger program (age limits apply)