Camping With Kids

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   Hovenweep National Monument Campground 10.29.16

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Hovenweep has got to be one of the coolest and most secluded campgrounds I’ve ever stayed at. This certified Dark Sky Park is located 344 miles (5+39hrs) from West Jordan, Utah and the drive takes you down through Price, Moab, Montecello and into the middle of nowhere all the way to the Colorado border. I know what you’re thinking, what the heck is Hovenweep National Monument. It was a late night Google search that led me to this little gem in southeastern Utah where there are 800 year old Pueblo ruins, $10 primitive campsites and more stars than I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t been, you should! Oh, and don’t forget to bring a comfy chair and a great bottle of wine to sit outside and enjoy the night’s sky with after the kiddos go to sleep. The Milky Way view is amazing!

Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park 10.28.16

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This year the Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park closed for the winter on October 29th, so we were some of the last campers for the 2016 season. I’m so glad we decided to go on this last minute trip that ultimately from Mesa Verde to Four Corners (49 miles) to Hovenweep (52 miles) to Arches (125 miles) and home (220 miles). Morefield Campground is located 40 miles west of Durango, Colorado and 353 miles (5+48hrs) from West Jordan, Utah. It’s a bit of a haul, but once you navigate all the twists and turns up to the campground, it’s sooooo worth it! You do have to pay to get into the park (unless you have an America the Beautiful Pass) and our spot, #47, was primitive, flat, mostly private and $20 per night.

While the campground was nice, it was the side trip we took to Balcony House that was amazing. It is called their most adventurous tour and even though it starts off with everyone climbing a 30′ ladder, we (Ethan 3, Olivia 4, Farren 12 and Me 40) went for it. This guided tour was $5 per person and our guide did a fantastic job teaching my kids all about the Pueblo ruins at Mesa Verde and about the people that lived in Balcony House. They don’t recommend this tour for people who are afraid of heights and cannot climb stairs, ladders or crawl through tunnels for good reason. It is a very active tour, but even my sometimes wild 3 year old did great, thankfully.

One more thing I think I should mention, I’ve heard that Mesa Verde National Park is very busy during the summer and tickets to all their ruins can sell out fast, so if you plan on going, get your tickets a few days in advance and not the day of like us.

Signal Mountain Campground in Grand Teton National Park with a Side Trip to Jackson, Wyoming 9.2-9.5.2016

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We were lucky enough to score a spot at the Signal Mountain Campground in Grand Teton National Park for Labor Day and it was amazing. Between the nachos at Trapper Grill that could easily feed a family of four with a wine list that won’t disappoint to the five minute walk to a Jackson Lake beach filled with small stones and a view of the Tetons that you’ll never forget, this campground is a bit pricier than most others, but worth every cent. The cost to enter Grand Teton National Park is now $30 per car or $80 for an annual pass plus an electric RV spot at Signal Mountain Campground is $50 per night. We sprung for the America the Beautiful Pass and ended up staying for two nights at Signal Mountain for a total of $180. Again, worth every penny and we can’t wait to go back.

All the sites at Signal Mountain are walk-up, or basically, they do not take reservations, so make sure to get there early in the day or they may be completely full. Our site was mostly flat with big pine trees, a great picnic table, fire ring and views of the lake. We did have neighbors pretty close by, but just far enough that our kids hopefully didn’t bother them. All three kids honestly wanted to spend every single minute digging in the dirt and playing on the beach even though it was 45F in the morning and only got to 65F in the afternoon.

After two nights and one day, we decided to venture into Jackson stopping to see the sights along the way. Not too far south of Signal Mountain is a sign that says Lupine Meadow Trailhead. Take that turn and follow it to the Jenny Lake Boat Launch for one of the most beautiful Teton views and a nice spot to have a picnic lunch. We wished we had brought our kayaks as this would be the perfect spot to paddle around with kids too. Next stop, the Visitor’s Center. When you are about to exit the park, you should see it on your right. The museum and gift shop are great for kids to learn all about the park as well as all the creatures that live there.

Let’s talk Jackson. I have a couple of downtown favorites there. Walking the square, going in all the shops and taking a pic next to the antler arches is a must. Eating tacos and drinking margaritas at Merry Piglets is a must. Visiting the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is a must (no kiddos allowed in this one though). And lastly, getting ice cream for the kids at Moo’s is must.

One more thing, the drive to Signal Mountain Campground is 5 hours and 45 minutes from West Jordan. I recommend going by Lava Hot Springs then up though Soda Springs, Idaho, stopping there to grab the kids a root beer float at the A&W. Hwy 34 is one of my favorite drives and only a few minutes longer than I15 up to the pass. Take the scenic route, you won’t be disappointed.

Mill Hollow – A Uinta National Forrest Campground 8.20.2016

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After a night of driveway camping at my friend Robyn’s in Draper, we decided to pack up all four of our kiddos and hit the road hoping to find a fun campground or BLM spot somewhere. We headed towards Kamas, passed through Francis and Woodland then up a well maintained gravel road originally passing by the Mill Hollow Campground to see where the gravel road went. You could easily drive that gravel road for hours all the way to Strawberry Reservoir passing by countless free BLM camping spots, but we didn’t make it all that far. The kiddos were getting restless and not enjoying the scenery as much as we were, so we headed back towards the campground hoping the first BLM spot we’d seen on the way out would be available. Unfortunately it wasn’t, but there were a few open primitive RV spots at Mill Hollow, so we pulled right in. Our spot wasn’t all that level, but it was nestled perfectly in between some of the largest pine trees I’ve seen since moving to Utah and it smelled amazing. Amazing.

After we leveled the RV, we headed for the trail around the reservoir for a little hike. That trail ended up being a little more adventurous than we were ready for. The climbing involved paired with the 50′-100′ drop-offs was a bit much for four kids under four, but would be tons of fun for older kiddos. This hike reminds me of that quote, “Bad decisions make for the best stories.” Yup, that’s what it was. We survived and will have a few good stories for the kids when they get a little older. LOL!

This was not my favorite campground, but we still had a great time and I will never forget the smell of those trees. Anyhoo, the BLM spot I mentioned is about 1/3 mile past Mill Hollow Campground (90 minutes from West Jordan) on a dirt road that winds down to a stream on the left side of the road. I highly recommend checking to see if anyone is in that spot before going to Mill Hollow.

Driveway Camping 8.19.2016

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We have camped in our own driveway and many friend’s driveways since getting our RV and absolutely love it. The kids get to play with their friends later than usual and I get to hang with my friends after we get our kiddos to bed. It’s a win, win!

Albion Basin Campground 8.14.2016

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I’m going to start by saying that we have been truly spoiled by the RV, and tent camping with three kids was, well, kind of awful. We didn’t have a tent large enough for all of us, so Steve and Farren (12) were in one and I was in the other with Ethan (3) and Olivia (4). This was a fantastic group camping spot and while we did have a blast with many other Sippy Cups families, the crazy wind storm at 2am, the moose stalking the bathroom and kiddos that wouldn’t sleep made it way more difficult than it needed to be. This campground does not allow vehicles over 25′ for good reason, the dirt/gravel mountain roads can be a bit hairy at times in a car, so our motorhome was out.

Albion Basin is regularly put as one of the top places to camp in Utah and I understand why. It’s very peaceful up at 10,000′, the hike to Cecret Lake is lots of fun and just being close to home but feeling so far away is totally worth it. Oh, and this campground is only open July 21-September 3 and takes reservations, so 4 months before you want to go there, make sure to book your spot, they fill up fast!

Camping for a Cause at Camp Cloud Rim 8.12.2016

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This annual fundraiser for Girl Scouts of Utah was more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. It’s at one of their camps just outside of Park City, but this weekend is for adults only. No kids or husbands allowed! You are greeted upon arrival with a glass of champagne as they take your bags to your tent or cabin for you. Then it’s time to sign up for activities, grab a glass of wine and mingle before an amazing 5-course meal in a huge dining hall overlooking a mountain lake. Dinner is followed by signature cocktails with Samoas and Thin Mints, a fancy s’mores spread and a movie out by the lake. Then the following morning you can do things like fly fish, paint, learn how to arrange flowers or take a yoga class. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that?!? Click HERE to sign up for this super fun adults only weekend!

Greenlakes Campground at Flaming Gorge 8.5.16

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We struggled to find the Greenlakes Campground located near Flaming Gorge, Utah, on our way home from a family trip to Omaha, Nebraska, but once we got there it really was nice. There is a little lake for fishing or to rent paddle boats, cabins, a restaurant and small store located next door. As far as the campground, it was $20 per night, primitive, quiet and the spots were well spaced. Make sure to check out the Red Canyon Visitor’s Center and overlook too, the view is pretty fantastic.

Vedauwoo Campground Spot #12 8.4.16

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When you drive on I80 between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming it’s hard to miss the rock formations at Vedauwoo. We camped here for one night on our drive home from Omaha, Nebraska and thought it was a pretty cool place outside of the nonstop interstate noise which was surprising considering how far away from I80 you are. Anyhoo, this little campground is all primitive, walk-up spots that are $10 each per night. There are also lots of boon docking spots on the main road outside the campground too. Check those out especially if you are tent camping as quite a few of them weren’t really easily accessible by our 29′ motorhome. I would definitely stay here again to do more hiking and exploring, but if it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for then this is not the place for you.

Ashley National Forrest 7.22-7.24.2016

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Time to hit the road in our new motorhome and learn how to use it. For my first trip I joined my friend Becky and her family to the Uinta River Group Campground in the Ashley National Forrest, almost three hours from West Jordan in Eastern Utah. This is a great little secluded group spot with tall pine trees, lots of shade and several nice bathrooms. It also has fire pits and room for quite a few RV’s. To say I let the kids get dirty on this trip is an understatement. LOL! There is plenty of very dusty dirt to shovel and roll around in and my kids did just that for the whole weekend while making lots of new friends and having a blast on their first ever motorhome adventure.

West Jordan, Utah 7.13.2016

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Something kind of exciting happened today, Steve and I bought a 2017 Coachmen Freelander motorhome and camping will never be the same again.

Conestoga Ranch 8.16.2015

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I know I said we had a great time the first time we stayed, but staying in the Grand Tent was soooooo fantastic and significantly easier with three kids, two of which are in throes of potty training. Having our own full bathroom as well as two bunk beds, two twins and a king was beyond comfortable for our family of five. After we had another great meal at their restaurant, they started our fire for us. S’mores, S’mores, and more S’mores! We are already looking forward to coming up to Bear Lake and staying in the Grand Tent again for a long weekend with a few friends and their families next summer. Can’t wait! Oh, and one more thing, I would like to add an amazing Mexican restaurant called Cafe Sabor to my list of places you must eat while visiting Bear Lake. I had the Chipotle Chicken Salad, the kids had nuggets and my vegan husband had one of the best burritos he’s had in awhile. Definitely make time to visit Cafe Sabor for lunch or dinner!

Conestoga Ranch 7.5.2015

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I can’t say enough great things about our first ever glamping experience at Conestoga Ranch in Garden City, Utah (Bear Lake). We stayed for one night in a Deluxe Family Tent with one king and two twin beds. It was incredibly comfortable even with temps dipping down into the 40F’s and so quiet you could hear a pin drop after dark. Their restaurant has a great drink menu as well as appetizers and lunch/dinner items at a very reasonable price. Make sure to order the sweet potato fries, they were incredible! Conestoga Ranch opened its doors on July 1st and although it is going to look amazing once all the landscaping takes root and the grasses come in, it was still a very cool place to stay with two toddlers for a night. We liked it so much we’re going  back for to spend a night in their Grand Tent with our whole family before school starts in August. Oh, and while you’re there, make sure to check out Rendezvous Beach (the perfect beach for toddlers) and Bear Trapper Restaurant (best breakfast in town!) while you’re there too.

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