Ahhh… the desert after the storm. Even though it was early, the sun was blazing. You could almost feel the water from the rain puddles evaporating into the morning sky. I knew if we didn’t get out to explore now, it wouldn’t happen. I grabbed my eager kids and we headed out to check out the resort. It was a very quiet morning here as it was mid-week and at the end of their high-season.
Our first stop was the swimming beach which is located on the cove, not on the river. Plenty of sand to put out the beach chairs and make sand castles. If you desire shade, Picnic Pavilions line the beach and are available to rent. We walked over to the riverside RV sites (there are 112 of them). Some do have more shade than others, however, all of them would be totally fun to stay at. The river is right there!
As we continued our walk we came upon the resort side of the facility. We found the store, restaurant, bar and the most interesting: the zip line. It is currently not open, but should be up and running by next Spring. The kids would love to try it out!
Don’t have an RV but want to try camping?
Pirate Cove offers travel trailer rentals! They have 31′ travel trailers that can sleep 6 for rent. You make your camping site reservation and they place the trailer on your selected site stocked with all bed linens and kitchen items. Bring your lawn chairs, food and clothes and you are set for your own RV Adventure!
After our walk, it was time to get back onto Highway 40. Since we had the night in Needles, there was time to add an adventure to our day. After reviewing my handy AAA Tour Book, I gave the kids a couple of places we could explore close to Flagstaff. They decided they wanted to see the ancient ruins at Walnut Canyon National Monument. What a great choice!
The Visitor Center is beautiful with large glass windows overlooking the canyon. The Rangers were helpful and kind to our kids who asked for Junior Ranger books. Before heading out for a hike we watched the short film that talked about the ancient inhabitants who made this special place their home.
The most popular option to see the pueblos is the Island trail. This trail descends 185 feet into the canyon providing access to 25 cliff dwelling rooms. We were there on a day with light showers which, to me, enhanced the serenity of this place. There is an extraordinary peace that radiates here. Duck into a few of the pueblos and one could almost imagine ancient life there.
Try this: raise your voice a little and hear the echo across the canyon. We found this out by accident but it really was a treat to understand how the native people could communicate with their neighbors across the canyon. Even though the trail was partially closed for construction, we felt that we had a great experience.
Keep in mind the trail is considered strenuous because climbing the 240 steps back up can be challenging, especially if you come from sea level as it is at 6,690ft elevation. The kids didn’t have any problems, they were waiting for me at the top! Remember to bring water, sunscreen, and take it slow. It is truly the best way to experience this park!
Once back to the Visitor Center, the kids needed to explore the small museum to get the final answers for the Junior Ranger program. It was a more detailed program than others but the kids had fun and learned a lot by completing it. When the kids presented their completed Junior Ranger books, I was impressed with the encouragement and interest the Rangers gave to Drake and Mia.
Now it was time to check into Flagstaff KOA. This campground is conveniently located on US-89 (the highway to Grand Canyon National Park). Even though the campground was right off the main road, we really didn’t hear much traffic noise. The benefit of the location is the close proximity to stores, restaurants, and gas stations while still feeling like you are out in the forest.
This KOA offers all different type of hook-up options, pull-thru and back-in sites. Don’t have an RV or want to try something different? There are four one-bedroom cabins (sleeps 4) or you can opt to sleep in a tee-pee! The tee-pee’s have sand/rug floors and 2 full size adjustable beds. Can sleep up to 6, set up for 4.
We had site 50 which was under a canopy of Ponderosa Pines. It was close to the Restroom/Shower building (very clean and well maintained). Right behind our site was the KOA Kitchen where between the hours of 6:30AM – 10:30AM Thursday-Monday, campers can purchase full breakfasts off a menu (kids menu available too).
To entertain the kids, we played at the retro playground before checking out the Nature Walk located on site. There were signs about the different types of trees and information about the fire on Mount Elden. There were tons of caterpillars on the wildflowers which was a hit with the kids. We even saw a small snake. Now, that wasn’t a highlight for me, however the kids loved it. There is also regular hiking trails right out the back of the park if interested.
We had to use our propane grill here for cooking dinner as open fires/ground fires are not allowed per City of Flagstaff Ordinances. Without a campfire, it made it that much easier to get the kids to bed. It had been a long day and an early night was what we all needed.
For additional information on places reviewed here, go to the Business Directory.