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Atalaya Tour – Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC

Along the beautiful coastline of Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina, lies a real castle.  Built by philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington and his noted sculptress wife,  Anna Hyatt Huntington, their home was called Atalaya, modeled in a Spanish Mediterranean style.  This served as the winter home for the couple and a place for Anna to spend time sculpting.

Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour or guided tours (based on season).  Once entered, the castle has an abandoned feel to it as all rooms stand empty but if you pause a moment, you can imagine the Huntington's life as it may have been in this little slice of South Carolina heaven.

In addition to tours, Atalaya hosts an arts and craft fair in September and seasonally, nightly ghost walks can be taken.

Hours

Opens at 6am throughout the year, however, closing time varies so check website for current times.

There is a small admission fee to visit Atalaya, check website for details.  Free guided tours offered March 1 - October 31. Audio Tour is available for an additional fee.

Address

16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC

 

 

Balcony House Guided Tour – Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Tour Basics
Balcony House may only be accessed by guided tour. Cliff dwelling tours are offered from April 1 to November 1st. Park rangers lead all tours, explaining the history of the Ancient Puebloan people and the cliff dwellings.

This one-hour, ranger-guided tour involves climbing a 32 ft. ladder, crawling through a 12ft-long tunnel, and climbing up a 60ft open rock face with two 10ft ladders to exit the site. Not suitable for young children.

See website for current pricing.

Where to buy tickets: Colorado Welcome Center (I recommend here), Mesa Verde Visitor Research Center (right outside park), Morefield Ranger Station, and Chapin Mesa Archeological Center.

Tour Tip: Purchase tickets up to two days before tour day as tours tend to sell out in peak seasons. Bring sunscreen and water on your tour.

Cachuma Lake Campground – Santa Barbara, CA
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Set amidst acres of wilderness flanked by the picturesque Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains, lies glimmering Cachuma Lake. Here you will find practically everything you need for a relaxing getaway in the great outdoors. Mild temperatures, typically sunny skies, and celebrated fishing conditions.
Note: There is no swimming of any kind in the lake.
Located off scenic Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, Cachuma Lake is midway between Santa Barbara and the Danish Community of Solvang.
Address

2225 Highway 154, Santa Barbara, CA 93105,

RV Sites

Cachuma Lake campground offers more than 400 campsites with 100 full electrical, water, and sewer hookup sites, and 30 electrical and water with no sewer (there is a dump station on-site).  There are restrooms and coin operated showers available.  There is a 2-night minimum stay for weekends (Friday and Saturday), and a 3-night minimum stay for holiday weekends.

Cabins

There are four cabins available.  Three six sleepers and one four sleeper (ADA).  The three 6 sleeper cabins are located near the marina and offer views of the lake. These cabins are all equipped with electricity, full bathrooms, kitchenettes, living rooms, private porches, picnic tables and fire pits. Simply pack your sleeping bags/bedding, pillows, towels/toiletries and groceries.

Yurts
There are 7 yurts (cross between a tent and tepee) which feature platform beds to sleep up to 6.  There is a lockable door, lighting, heating and screened windows in the wood and fabric siding. Yurts are set on a bluff with access to the lake shore.  There is a 2-night minimum stay for weekends (Friday and Saturday), and a 3-night minimum stay for holiday weekends.
Campground Amenities

Bathrooms and Hot Showers (coin-operated)
Playground
Lake Cruises
Nature Center
Fishing Pier
Hiking Trails
Marina (sells bait, tackle, fuel and licenses)
General Store & Gas Station
Dog Park
Boat Launch

 

See website for pricing and reservation information.

(805) 686-5054
Lehman Caves Tour – Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV

Tour Basics
Lehman Caves may only be entered with a guided tour. Cave tours are offered daily, year round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Park rangers lead all tours, explaining the history, ecology, and geology of the caves.

Two different guided tours of Lehman Caves are offered, the Lodge Room Tour and the Grand Palace Tour. Reservations are strongly recommended in the summer months, as well as over holiday weekends.

Lodge Room Tour:
Lodge Room Tours are approximately 60 minutes long. The Lodge Room Tour travels 0.4 miles, and is ideal for families with young children. The Lodge Room Tour highlights the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room sections of Lehman Caves. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory.

Grand Palace Tour:
Grand Palace Tours are approximately 90 minutes long. The Grand Palace Tour travels 0.6 miles, and children must be at least 5 years old to join the Grand Palace Tour (except on tours December through February). This tour visits the Gothic Palace, the Music Room, the Lodge Room, Inscription Room, and the Grand Palace sections of Lehman Caves, including a chance to view the famous "Parachute Shield" formation. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory.

Visit Website for hours and pricing

Cave Tips:
Bring a light jacket - cave temperature is always about 50 degrees year round

You can only bring a small flashlight and handheld camera into the cave. No backpacks, tripods, etc.

The Ranger will let you know when it is OK to take photos. Remind them to tell you when it is OK. Ours forgot to mention we could take photos until we asked.

Lehman Caves Tours – Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV

Lehman Caves may just be the most decorated of all the caves our family has visited.  Sparkling formations and unique features such as "shields" are here.  Cave may only be entered with a guided tour which are offered daily, year-round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Park rangers share the history, ecology, and geology of the cave.  Two different guided tours of Lehman Caves are offered, the Lodge Room Tour and the Grand Palace Tour. Reservations are strongly recommended in the summer months, as well as over holiday weekends.

Lodge Room Tour:
Lodge Room Tours are approximately 60 minutes long. The Lodge Room Tour travels 0.4 miles, and is ideal for families with young children. The Lodge Room Tour highlights the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room sections of Lehman Caves. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory. ** Best for families!

Grand Palace Tour:
Grand Palace Tours are approximately 90 minutes long. The Grand Palace Tour travels 0.6 miles, and children must be at least 5 years old to join the Grand Palace Tour (except on tours December through February). This tour visits the Gothic Palace, the Music Room, the Lodge Room, Inscription Room, and the Grand Palace sections of Lehman Caves, including a chance to view the famous "Parachute Shield" formation. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory.

Hours:

Visit Website for hours and pricing

Tips:

Bring a light jacket - cave temperature is always about 50 degrees year round
You can only bring a small flashlight and handheld camera into the cave. No backpacks, tripods, etc.
Ranger will let you know when it is OK to take photos. Remind them to tell you when it is OK. Ours forgot to mention we could take photos until we asked.

 

 

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
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"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.

Directions

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.

http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm
970-529-4465
Mild to Wild River Rafting & Jeep Tours – Durango, CO

Mild to Wild has been offering tours for over 20 years.  They offer river rafting adventures for all experience levels not only in Colorado, but also in Arizona and Utah.  They offers family rafting trips with a minimum age of 4-years-old.  They offer regular and premium boats and for the more adventurous, kayaks.

Mild to Wild also offers Jeep tours which are open to all ages and takes guests to places like Silverton's Ghost Town.

Address

50 Animas View Drive, Durango, CO 81301

Pricing

Too many options to list - visit their website directly

Awards

TripAdvisor's 2014  and 2015 Certificate of Excellence Awards

Tips

- Discounts?  Sign up for their email and receive discount offers!

-Everyone in your party will need some type of shoe that secures around your ankle.  No flip-flop type shoes allowed

- There are lockers for your belongings

- Take only a water bottle, a hat,  and a water-proof camera with you in the raft

-Call ahead and check the river condition. Too low or too high may not fit your expectations or feel right for the age of your children

-Do tip your guide (I feel horrible as I didn't remember to do this but we had a sick kid on our hands).

http://mild2wildrafting.com/
800-567-6745
Mt. Pleasant/Charleston KOA – Mount Pleasant, SC
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This camping is a family favorite as we stayed here for two months while we waited to purchase a home in the Charleston area in 2015.  Situated on the grounds of a real antebellum plantation, this campground is truly unique.  On weekends, campers can enjoy a free wagon ride tour to see the privately owned Oakland Plantation (the plantation boasts the oldest known house in Mt. Pleasant).  Other great features of the park is the 1.5 mile nature trail, a gorgeous 30-acre man-made lake where you can watch the sun set. fish or or fish (our son caught his first fish here). Campground is very close to all downtown Charleston attractions and restaurants and a only a few miles from Isle of Palms and Patriot Point.

Address

3157 Highway 17 N., Mount Pleasant, SC

RV Sites/Services

Pull-Thru & Back- In Deluxe Full hook-ups, 50/30/20  amp (includes patio, swing and other great features)

Pull-Thru - Full Hook-ups 50/30 amp

Back-in - Full- Hook-ups 50/30 amp

Pull-Thru - 30/20 amps Water/Electric

Pull-Thru - 30/20 amps Water/Electric

Pull-Thru 50/30 amps Water Electric

Back-in  - 30/20 Water/Electric

Cabin Rentals

Choice of Deluxe cabins (with bathroom) or Camping Cabins (without bathrooms).  Some are situated right on the lake.  Some offer kitchens while others do not.  Important to view website for the different offerings.  For an unique experience, look into the train caboose cabin!

Campground Amenities

Pool
Hiking Trails
Laundry Room
Horseshoes
Playground
Basketball Hoop
Rental canoes/kayaks
Fishing
Free Wi-Fi
Weekend tractor tours to Oakland Plantation
Weekend Pancake Breakfasts!

PricingCheck their website for pricing information!Awards2016 KOA Founders and President Award Winner

Old One Hundred Gold Mine – Silverton, CO

Old One Hundred Gold Mine is a fantastic tour which takes you 1/3 of a mile into Galena Mountain in ore cars.

You don mining hats and bright yellow coats as you take your seat in a real mining car.  After a brief history of the area and the mine, the cars slowing roll into the dark and wet cave.  The clack of the cars on the tracks is all you hear as you feel drops of water dripping from the cave ceiling.  Once you reach the 1/3 mile area, you leave the cars for a very informative tour that shows you old and current mining equipment, the mine shaft, how they dynamited the rock, and more.  There will be some good storied told as well!  Once back above ground, try your hand at REAL gold panning for silver, copper and gold flakes with water coming directly out of the mine.  New "miners" will not want to leave!

Address

721 County Route 4a, Silverton, CO

Pricing

See website for pricing

Tour Frequency

Tours depart hourly 10am through 4pm daily - no need to make a reservation

Tour Season: Usually goes from mid-May to mid-September

Tips

• Temperature underground is a cool 48°F, so a sweater or jacket is recommended and comfortable shoes
• Underground portion of tour lasts approximately 45 to 50 minutes.
• Mine altitude is 10,000 feet above sea level.
• Smoking is not permitted on the motor-coach, mine shuttle, or underground in the mine
• Rest rooms located at gift shop building.
• Video and flash cameras welcome!
• Large parking lot with plenty of room for RV’s
• Highly scenic road to the mine is paved for 2 miles, then well maintained gravel for the last three miles. Accessible to all cars and recreational vehicles.

** Tip your tour guide if they do a good job - ours was fantastic!

Directions

To get here, take US Hwy 550 (the San Juan Skyway) to Silverton. Drive down Silverton's paved main street through town. Just past the Courthouse and Museum, take a right turn onto County Road 2. Continue on CR 2 for two miles - passing the Mayflower Mill where the road becomes gravel - then two more miles to the ghost town of Howardsville. Past the "Alpine Loop" sign, cross the creek and immediately turn right onto County Road 4-A. Continue on CR 4-A 3/4 mile to the mine. Follow the blue and white "Mine Tour" directional signs that are located along the way after you leave the Silverton town limits.

 

www.minetour.com
800-872-3009
Ruby Falls – Chattanooga, TN

Iconic Ruby Falls is named one of the "Ten Most Incredible Cave Waterfalls on Earth" and it easy to see why.  Water pours from rocks 145-feet above before cascading down into a small pool.  Standing at the base of the falls, you can feel the mist and hear the power of the water. Tours start an elevator ride that lowers visitors over 1,000 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain.  Your tour guide will meet you and take you along the tour route that gives ample time to view beautiful cave formations.

Lookout Mountain Tower can be accessed at the end of the tour for panoramic views of the Tennessee Valley below.

Hours

Open Daily 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. except Christmas Day

Address

1720 South Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN

Other Activities Available

“Fun Forest Playground”
Snack Bar
Gemstone Panning (fee)
Zip Stream Aerial Adventure (fee)
Gift Shop

http://www.rubyfalls.com/
423-821-2544

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