Tag Archives: Great Adventrue Ideas
Deep in Southern Utah’s remote desert landscape sits the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Protecting 1.8 million acres, it’s an ideal location for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. A place where one can easily find solitude as well as easily get lost in the deep slot canyon creek beds.
For our first adventure into this massive wilderness, we selected the Bull Valley Gorge loop based on the Las Vegas REI team member’s suggestion and the two days we had for accomplishing the weekend trip. Seeing a photo of the deep canyon on the cover of a Utah climbing book further increased our excitement for exploring our first slot canyon.
You sit up on a rugged, scraggly plateau as you drive south into the Grand Staircase. What you don’t realize, however, are the deep creek beds that weave throughout the landscape. When starting out with Alex and my brother John, we only had to hike a 1/8 mile down a trail to gain access to the stream bed. It wasn’t too long after that when the gorge got deeper and narrower. The site of the water worn sand walls going straight up for 50-75 feet inspires awe as well as a bit of fear. Some of the passageways were only 3-4 feet wide and the thought of a flash flood is always present. (Check the weather forecast ahead of time!) While not too terribly technical, you do need some rope and the ability to use them for lowering gear and bodies down some of the 15-20 foot drops. Fortunately, for us, Alex has developed a passion for the latest robe techniques!
As you’ll see in the video, we had a lot of laughs and a few falls weaving our way through the long, dark passageways. At 17 miles, the two day loop was a fairly strenuous trek. The second half day was particularly tiring as the creek bed opened up and exposed us to the afternoon desert heat and sun. To say, “bring plenty of water” would be an understatement as we found our jugs bone dry by the time we returned to the vehicle. Oh yes, you’ll need to bring a map with you as navigating in desert landscape and deep canyons can be very tricky. N, S, E or W has a whole new meaning when you are 100 feet down. For a unique and memorable adventure, you won’t be disappointed!
If you are thinking about slot canyons and hiking in Southern Utah, check out Favorite Hikes In & Around Zion National Park by Tanya Milligan and Bo Beck. It’s loaded with great photos and easy to understand directions and maps. They also cover hikes for every age and ability level. Perfect for planning your next adventure no matter what age kids you have. We picked up our copy at REI.
AdventureDad was recently featured on The Grateful Dad Radio
Hour with host, Doug Gertner. Visit his show’s website,
www.castlerockradio.com, to listen to Craig talk about his early adventures, a life changing experience, getting into your kid’s “flow” and three tips for successful adventures! You can also find an archive of Doug’s other programs.
Check out Mile High Mamas for my 15 suggested summer activities. Writing the piece for them brought back a lot of great memories!
Are you looking to take your kids on their first camping experience? Just an hour from Denver is Al’s Pits at Geneva Creek Park just at the start of Guanella Pass. They have a stocked trout pond where the fish bite on everything and you pay by the inch (all the equipment is available to rent), as well as, created camp sites right on the stream. They have a large community shelter with tables and a fire ring as well as nice bathrooms. Best of all, they have Al’s pit b-b-q on site where they will even cook your freshly caught trout! The owners are an older couple, Al and Liz, who explained to us their dream of creating this unique, all inclusive space. Just bring your tent and warm jackets for those cool mountain evenings.
This past month, we did a short family reunion trip at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. While it wasn’t as extreme as the adventures we typically like, I was amazed at the numbering of offerings which they have that are perfect for introducing younger children to the great outdoors. In addition to amazing hiking trails for all abilities, they have a stocked fishing pond, horseback riding, all sorts of family sports and games, and plenty of indoor activities for when the weather is foul. They have all sorts of sleeping accommodations including lodge rooms, beautiful homes and smaller cabins spaced nicely in the woods. Most impressive was the rental fire rings available in the evening. A nice big pit with wood stools, firewood and even s’more fixings!
I just got hooked up with a new site which features low cost to free adventure activities in the Denver metro and mountain areas. Chump Change Adventures (http://www.ChumpChangeAdventures.com) organizes adventures by audience (children, teens, families, couples) as well as by type of adventure. In addition to outdoor activities, it has listings for classes, seasonal, and business opportunities. I especially enjoyed the calendar of events which included a complete listing of REI classes for the beginner through experienced outdoor enthusiast. Sharon Otto, the founder of Chump Change Adventures hopes to expand her site to other cities around the country.
Good luck Sharon!
One of the classic family traditions involves the fall harvest and Halloween festivities. Of these, going to the store or the farmer’s field to pick out pumpkins is a child favorite. I have great memories of my Dad taking his 5 kids to pick out the perfect one. Alex and I have had the fortune of going to the same farm for the past 17 years to pick in the fields for our home and for a charity program we run.
For carving, here are a few tips we’ve picked up along the way to make it a little easier and fun. We’ve also attached a video sent in by Nathaniel and his son Devon. This flaming pumpkin goes into the very cool category for pumpkin adventures. He wrote in that his secret is a roll of toilet paper and kerosene. I’d make sure your homeowner’s policy is up to date!
- For bigger cuts, use a drywall saw. It cuts right through and is safer than gutting with a big kitchen knife.
- We like to thin out the inside by scrapping some of the meat out with a sturdy spoon or ice cream scoop. This helps with making more detailed patterns.
- There are great carving kits out there that make the finer cuts a whole lot easier. They also come with a variety of templates for carving and an assortment of designs. Just pin it on and punch holes with a pin through the pattern. If you make a mistake and cut something off, toothpicks work great for reattaching parts.
- For more unique designs, you can make a pattern out of just about any design or picture. Just photocopy it and pin it on. Our favorite designs have been sports logos and mountain scenes. Not to mention a great Darth Maul several years ago.
- For eyes and stars, try drilling a small hole in your pumpkin and putting a marble in it. The candle will send light through it for glowing effects.
- Once finished, try coating the inside cuts with Vaseline if you live in a dryer climate. This will help your design last for several days.
For costume adventures, it’s a whole lot of fun to do a theme with your kids and march around the school parade or neighborhood.