Grand Opening of the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, Utah

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Exhibit Hall at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

The Grand Opening of the Canyon Country Discovery Center was held just about a week and a half ago here in Monticello – I’d been looking forward to it for months!  I joked back in June in my entry on the Stars & S’mores program at the Discovery Center, wondering if it would be bigger than our ‘famous’ Maverick Grand Opening back in 2011, and I think it’s safe to say that it was indeed a much, much more successful event!

Through work, I was invited to a grand opening dinner the night before the big grand opening for the public on Saturday.  My husband and I went and I’m glad we did because, since it was a dinner for adults only, we had a chance to walk through the exhibit hall and play with test out all the learning stations without having to share with the kids!  I know that sounds horrible, but if you saw how many kids were at the Grand Opening the next day, you’d definitely agree with me!

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Giant Lite Brite at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

The first thing that we saw when we walked in the door was a giant Lite Brite just begging to be played with!  We played with it a little, but I should have taken advantage of the fact that there were no kids there and spent more time on it because it was one of the stations that was always really, really busy the next day.

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Windmill Building Station at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

When we saw the Windmill exhibit we decided to make a competition out of it to see who could build a windmill that would produce the most power.  I thought it was going to be really easy and after taking a quick look at the example, I quickly whipped together my own windmill at the building station, and took it over to the wind chamber to test it out. Much to my disappointment , I couldn’t even get mine to register!  Needless to say, I lost.  Let’s just leave it at that. (Yes, I’m a little competitive when it comes to my husband!  And if you look at the smug smile on his face in the video below, you’ll understand why I hate losing to him!)

 

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Giant Lite Brite at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

As much fun as it was to get to check out the exhibits on our own, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun my son was going to have when we brought him back the next day.  He’s been up there a couple times before- they had a soft opening back in the winter and they had a few exhibits up at that time and he was completely obsessed with the Wind Tube.  I kept thinking that if only we had one at home, I might actually be able to get something done around the house once in a while!

The next day when we arrived for the Grand Opening with our son, just like my husband and I, the first thing he went to was the giant Lite Brite, and once I showed him that he could put the color rods in the holes to make them light up, he was hooked!

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Paths of Motion at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Paths of Motion at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

One of the most popular exhibits with kids seemed to be the Paths of Motion station.  The challenge was to see how many different ways you could get the balls to end up in the same place using the various shaped magnetic pieces provided.  This station was so popular, my son barely got a chance to play with it, and although I could tell that he was really interested in it, he moved on pretty quickly- probably after realizing that he was going to have to wait a long time for a turn.

Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, UT

Funnel Table at the Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, UT

Bottom of the Funnel Table at the Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, UT

The Funnel Table was another fun exhibit, and although it might not have been intentional, I think the kids enjoyed the bottom of the table just as much as the top!

Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, UT

Augmented Reality Sandbox at the Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Augmented Reality Sandbox at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

The Augmented Reality Sandbox is definitely my favorite exhibit-  I could spend hours happily shaping the sand and watching the topographic image that’s projected down onto the sand change to match the newly formed contours.  You can make mountains, rivers, lakes… you can even make it rain by holding your hand over an area to make a shadow.  It’s such a cool exhibit- I remember seeing it for the first time last year when I got to tour the center when it was still under construction and I was completely blown away by it!  A year later, the thrill hasn’t worn off- I’m still in awe of it!

(*Coincidentally, I just looked back to see when exactly it was that I had toured the center, and it was August 19th, 2015- exactly one year ago from the night of the Grand Opening dinner!)

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Water Table at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Another new exhibit that we hadn’t seen yet was the water table.  I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone, but kids LOVE playing in the water!  And I think it’s even better when they can control the water, so the new water table exhibit was definitely popular!  Kids can build dams, change the course of the water and watch the boats float downstream, make it rain, and adjust where the water enters the table.  What more could a kid want?!

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Wind Tube at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

And of course, there’s no way we could have visited the Exhibit Hall without testing out  the Wind Tube.  As I mentioned, we’ve been up to the Discovery Center a few times, so we’ve had a chance to try out several of the exhibits, but it was fun to watch people who were seeing everything for the first time.

I’ve just mentioned my favorite exhibits- there are quite a few more, and I honestly haven’t tried them all out yet.  According to the Canyon Country Discovery Center website, the exhibit hall has room for 20-30 exhibits, so I’m sure they will be introducing new exhibits on a regular basis.

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Horse Drawn Wagon Rides at the Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

My son with Astronaut John Herrington at the Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Astronaut John Herrington at the Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening- Monticello, UT

Aside from getting to test out all the new exhibits, there was quite a bit of other stuff going on at the Grand Opening.  There were vendors, (artists, food trucks, various goods, etc.) Navajo, Ute, Hopi, Hispanic, and Pioneer cultural demonstrations, horse drawn wagon rides around the campus, a workshop & keynote speech from the first Native American astronaut- Commander John Herrington, 5 different live bands/musicians playing all throughout the day with the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet closing out the evening, and a star party at the newly completed observatory after the sun went down.

There was a lot going on and there were a lot of things we missed- it was impossible to make it to everything!  But we did our best and ended up staying from about noon-5:00pm, then we ran home to eat dinner really fast then went straight back up there to listen to the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet and were there from about 7:00pm-8:30pm.  My son spent the entire concert playing in the playscape, which is an AWESOME place for kids to explore and get their energy out- there are paths and tunnels, a huge sandbox with toys, musical features, and bench swings.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the playscape during the grand opening, but luckily I have a friend who did! (I’ve also added a few other playscape photos that I’ve taken since then.)

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT (photo: Sarah English)

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT  (photo: Sarah English)

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT  (photo: Sarah English)

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello- UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello- UT

IMG_20160830_184959410 IMG_20160830_190214129

Before going to the grand opening, I had thought that there would be a lot of people from town up there and that I’d probably recognize a majority of the people, but that was not the case at all.  There were quite a few people that I knew and recognized from Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff there, but I was surprised and happy to see how many people from the Salt Lake area and even out of state were there!

I’ve known that this was in the works for years now, and watched the progress with the construction of the building for the past year, but I still can’t believe that we have such an amazing new educational center here in Monticello!  I feel so lucky that my son will get to grow up with the Canyon Country Discovery Center right here in town, and will get to participate in their programs as he grows.

My husband, son, and I have been going up to walk the trails around the center and/or to take our son to play in the playscape at least once a week lately, and we’re definitely planning on making regular trips to the center and exhibit hall as well.  After all, I still need to redeem myself and beat my husband in a rematch of our windmill building competition!

Distance from the Canyon Country Discovery Center to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

 

Posted in Education Centers, Events, Monticello, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

What is it about boys and dinosaurs? Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Last weekend we were trying to think of something to do with our son, and since it’s the middle of the summer and it’s pretty hot around here right now, we were trying to think of some indoor and higher elevation things we could do.  Since my son has really started to get interested in dinosaurs lately, we decided to spend a half day in Blanding and take him to The Dinosaur Museum & the pool, then drive back to Monticello over the mountain via Johnson Creek/North Creek if we still felt up for it by the end of the day.

We arrived at the Dinosaur Museum at about 11:00 just as a couple other groups were getting out of their cars in the parking lot.  I was glad to see that although it’s a fairly small museum, it looks like they keep pretty busy!

Looking at Petrified Wood at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Looking at Petrified Wood at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

I want to mention here that this museum is obviously smaller than say, the Natural History Museum of Utah, but it’s really an amazing museum and actually much bigger than we had expected, especially in a town with a population of only about 4,000!  Even more amazing are the admission rates; only $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, and $2.00 for children ages 4+.  They also have special group rates available for tours of 10+, and guided group tours are available with reservations at 435-678-3454.  (Prices current as of July 2016.)  They also have a AAA discount, so it only ended up costing $6 for the three of us!  (My son was free because he still has a month and a half before he turns 4, and they took .50 cents off for each adult since we have AAA!)  You absolutely cannot beat those prices!

We walked in and right away I was really impressed with the displays in the museum.  The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a petrified wood display against one of the walls with huge tree trunks, which were very impressive.  My son seemed to be interested in it until he saw dinosaur skeletons, and then that was all he wanted to look at.  I like to move through museums in a way that I’m sure that I’m seeing everything, but my son was zigzagging across the room moving from one display to whichever one caught his attention next.  At least he was excited and interested in everything!

Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Herrerasaurus at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Mummified Edmontosaurus at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Mummified Edmontosaurus at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

One of our favorite displays at the Dinosaur Museum was the cast of a mummified Edmontosaurus.  This rare duckbilled dinosaur was found in Wyoming and was discovered intact with large patches of skin on the side, neck, along the backbone, and on both hands.  The original fossil is in a museum in Germany and this cast is one of only two on public view worldwide!  And it’s located in Blanding, Utah!  Amazing!

Posing for silly pictures at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Posing for silly pictures with the Tarbosaurus- Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

In front of the Tarbosaurus- Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Therizinosaurus at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Therizinosaurus at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Our favorite room at the Dinosaur Museum had to be the Special Exhibits Hall which houses several large, feathered dinosaurs and colorful movie posters along with lots of other movie memorabilia.  The highlight of our visit was definitely the 14 ft tall Therizinosaurus which dominates the room- I’ve never seen anything like it!  When most people think of dinosaurs they probably think of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, or maybe Pterodactyls, but I doubt very many people think of, let alone even know of Therizinosaurus.  The Therizinosaurus sculpture on display at the museum is 14 ft tall with a 20 ft wingspan, and from reading the description I’ve learned that they are flightless birds from the Late Cretaceous period and were first found in Mongolia.

Deinonychus- Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Deinonychus- Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Deinonychus- Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

The Deinonychus display has examples of both feathered, and featherless versions.  The reason for this is that originally they were thought to be scaly dinosaurs, but more recent discoveries in China have revealed that it was actually a flightless bird with feathers.

Giant crocodile head from the movie 'Hook' at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

Giant crocodile head from the movie ‘Hook’ at the Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, UT

The number of movie posters and movie memorabilia in the Special Exhibits Hall is really impressive.  I think many visitors to the museum are probably surprised to see such a large collection of movie memorabilia in a museum in such a small town in Utah, but if you know anything about the history of the founders of the museum, it makes perfect sense.

The Dinosaur Museum was founded in 1992 by Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas- both renown paleo-artists and authors.  Stephen spent his early career sculpting dinosaurs for the Motion Picture Industry, then in 1981 he began sculpting life-size dinosaurs for museums around the country and world-wide.  Steven and Sylvia co-directed The Dinosaur Museum from 1992 until Stephen passed away in 2015, and  Sylvia continues to operate the museum in memory of her late husband.

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Stop Motion Animation Display at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Stop Motion Animation Display at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Foreign Movie Poster at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Foreign Movie Poster at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Foreign Movie Posters at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Photos from the making of Godzilla at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

After seeing all these movie posters my husband commented that he had no idea that there were so many old dinosaur movies, and now he’s wanting to try to find some for us to watch.  It’s definitely not the type of thing I’d normally watch, but after visiting the Dinosaur Museum, I’m kind of intrigued.  But I’m only committing to watching one for now…😉

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Dinosaur Figurines, Toys, Salt & Pepper Shakers, etc. at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Dinosaur Comic Books at The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

Dinosaur Museum (65)

We probably spent an hour and a half at The Dinosaur Museum which is really saying something since that means that it held the attention of my almost 4 yr-old son for that long!  With my son moving so quickly from one display to the next, I didn’t have the chance to read as many of the displays as I would have liked, but I’m sure I’ll get to read everything eventually because I can already tell that we’ll be going back a lot!

Our last stop was the gift shop and they have quite a good selection of dinosaur toys, shirts, quilts, etc.  We found a couple inexpensive toys for my son including a dinosaur egg that you get to ‘excavate’ yourself!  He had to wait until we got home for that one, but the second we pulled into the driveway, he was ready to see what was inside!

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

The Dinosaur Museum- Blanding, Utah

I highly recommend to anyone who is passing through Blanding, that you make a point of stopping there, especially if you have kids!  But even for those without kids or who don’t think they’re really into dinosaurs, (like me!) this museum is seriously a hidden gem in Blanding.

As I’m writing this, it’s been 11 days since our first visit, and I say ‘first’ because we’ve already been back again!  The first thing my son asks me almost every morning now is, ‘Is the Dinosaur Museum open today?’ and when I say that it is, he asks, ‘Can we go there today?’  He’s been playing ‘Dinosaur Museum’ every single day since our first visit!  In the morning he goes out to the living room, turns on the light, and announces that the dinosaur museum is open.  He’s made cages out of legos, (I guess some of the dinosaurs are alive?) and also incorporates our cat-climber into his museum (turns out it makes a great place to display your dinosaurs!)  I love seeing kids so excited about something new they’ve seen.  Experiences are priceless and I feel very fortunate that The Dinosaur Museum is only a 20 minute drive from Monticello!

The Dinosaur Museum is located at:                                                                              754 South 200 West, Blanding, UT 84511                                                                  They can be reached at: 435-678-3454 or dinos@dinosaur-museum.org

The Dinosaur Museum is open April 15th- October 15th

Distance from The Dinosaur Museum to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com


***Giveaway***

The Dinosaur Museum has generously donated 2 family passes for us to give away to our blog & social media followers. (Each pass allows free entry for 2 adults & 2 children)

  1 pass will be given away on this blog and 1 pass will be given away on Instagram, so be sure to enter both!

To enter just leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite dinosaur or dinosaur movie.

Winners will be announced on Monday, August 1st, 2016

 

Posted in Blanding, Giveaways, Movies, Museums, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

101 Ways to Experience San Juan County

101 Ways to Experience San Juan County

101 Ways to Experience San Juan County

The new ‘101 Ways to Experience San Juan County‘ guide is now available!  It’s actually been out for just over a month now, and we’re almost halfway through the time period for submitting photos for the competition.  Back again this year is the ‘101 Challenge’- a competition for visitors and residents to complete as many of the 101 things listed in the guide as possible between June 1st, 2016 and September 30th, 2016.  The grand prize is the winner’s choice of a jeep or a rafting trip with Four Corners Adventures.  Three 1st prizes of dinner for four at a local restaurant, and sixteen 2nd prizes of San Juan Record shoulder bags will also be given away.

This year I’ve decided to take on the challenge with my husband and son!  We’re off to a little bit of a slow start, but I know we’ll make it up as the summer goes on.  Here’s what we’ve done so far…

#1. Visit A Visitor Center

Blanding Visitor Center, Blanding, UT

Blanding Visitor Center, Blanding, UT

This one is easy- for my job I’m often picking up/dropping off brochures at the visitor centers in our area, but to remember to take a photo while I’m there… that was the challenge!

The staff at our local visitor centers have a wealth of knowledge about the area, and I’m always glad to see that ‘Visit a Visitor Center’ has been #1 for all three editions of the ‘101 Ways’ guides.  Brochures, maps, directions… they’re ready to help you with anything you need and get you on your way to explore this amazing area!

 

#18. Take a Walk & #57. Enjoy the Wildflowers

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Evening Walk on the Canyon Country Discovery Center Trails- Monticello, UT

We walk daily around town in Monticello; to the post office, to the store, in the evenings at the golf course and at the Millsite, but for the sake of the 101 Challenge, we decided to walk in an area we hadn’t ever been- here in Monticello the only place we hadn’t been to that was listed in the 101 Ways guide was on the trails at the Canyon Country Discovery Center.

Evening Walk on the Canyon Country Discovery Center Trails- Monticello, UT

Sego Lily along the Canyon Country Discovery Center Trails- Monticello, UT

Evening Walk on the Canyon Country Discovery Center Trails- Monticello, UT

Prickly Pear Cactus at the Canyon Country Discovery Center Trails- Monticello, UT

The trails are really nice out there, there were quite a few flowers blooming along the trail, and we also saw some wildlife.  We saw lots of birds and a few rabbits, but the highlight of our walk was definitely the owl that flew out of a low tree while we were walking past it.  It was so big I thought it was a hawk at first, but I quickly realized that it definitely wasn’t a hawk.  I wondered for a split second if it could have been an owl, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen an owl in the wild before.  But just as I started to dismiss the idea that it could have been an owl, my husband confirmed that it was in fact, an owl, and we’re pretty sure it was a Great Horned Owl due to the ear tufts we both caught a quick glance of as it flew to another tree.  How cool is that?!  We’re definitely planning to walk out there again, and we’re hoping we might get to see that owl again!  *I’ll have my camera ready next time!

#20. Visit the Latigo Wind Farm

Latigo Wind Farm- Monticello, UT

Latigo Wind Farm- Monticello, UT

Latigo Wind Farm- Monticello, UT

Latigo Wind Farm- Monticello, UT

We drove out to the Latigo Wind Farm last night to check out the windmills and see how close we would be able to get to them.  It turns out, you’re able to get fairly close to the windmills, but I was a little disappointed that you aren’t able to walk right up to the base of any of them.

When I was living in Japan I had a friend who spoke next to no English, so we relied mostly on my Japanese to communicate.  He kept saying he wanted to take me somewhere, but as many times as we talked about it, I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to describe to me, but I was open to the adventure and got in his car one day with no idea of where we were going.  We drove up into the mountains for at least an hour and he finally pulled up at the base of a giant windmill just like the ones we have in Monticello now.  It was really cool to be able to stand right at the base of one of these huge windmills and watch the blade going around and around.  I wish we were able to do that here in Monticello too- it’s a pretty amazing experience!

I actually feel a little guilty about this one because my dad was just visiting a few weeks before the challenge started, and was fascinated with the windmills and wanted to drive out to see them.  I told him that I doubted that you were able to drive out to them, and that he could see them fine from town anyway.  When the new ‘101 Ways…’ came out right after he left and I saw that #20 was to visit the wind farm, I felt so bad that I hadn’t made an effort to find out if it was okay to drive out there or not.  I’ll definitely take him out there on his next visit!

#38. Stargazing

Looking at Saturn at Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Looking at Saturn at Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

If you haven’t read my last post, ‘Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center‘, go read it now!  And then go to their weekly program- you’ll be glad you did!

#58. Submit a Photo to the San Juan Record ‘Photo of the Week Contest’

My photo on the cover of the San Juan Record!

My photo on the cover of the San Juan Record!

Not only did I submit a photo, but it was selected for the cover of the San Juan Record! (Got my $10 check in the mail yesterday too!)

#87. Fishing

Just a week before Free Fishing Day, the Department of Wildlife Resources put on a family fishing clinic up at Lloyd’s Lake.  We took our son and they had a bunch of fishing poles all set up and ready for kids to practice casting with.  I have to admit, it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve fished… I used to live in Alaska and I LOVED salmon fishing, and honestly, ever since then I’ve felt like it kind of ruined me for fishing down here in our stocked ponds and reservoirs.  Luckily, one of the DWR guys took my son over to the casting area and showed him what to do.  I was really shocked that my son could cast as well as he did!  He’s just a couple months shy of his 4th birthday, and I really wasn’t expecting him to be able to pick it up so quickly, but he did, and he was really good at it!  (And I don’t think it’s just because I’m his mom that I think that… the DWR guy kept saying it too!)

Fishing at Foy Lake- Monticello, UT

Free Fishing Day 2016- Foy Lake- Monticello, UT

Free Fishing Day 2016 at Foy Lake- Monticello, UT

Free Fishing Day 2016- Foy Lake- Monticello, UT

Over the next week we found him a kids fishing pole- he wanted a ‘Frozen’ one, and normally we’d let him pick, but this time we decided to overrule him since we’re hoping he’ll be able to use the fishing pole for at least a couple years.  We were kind of thinking that his current love of the movie would probably not last as long as we’re hoping that the fishing pole will, so we got him a ‘Cars’ one instead.

Since he’s still only 3, every day is free fishing day for him, (fishing in Utah is free to children under the age of 12) but I was hoping that he might give me a turn or two with his fishing pole, so that was why we decided to go up to Foy Lake on free fishing day.

Believe it or not, in a lake stocked with thousands of fish, we didn’t catch anything!  I’m pretty sure we didn’t have the right kind of lures or bait- we really had no idea what we needed, we just bought something that looked similar to what they were showing us at the DWR family fishing clinic.  I was very torn between hoping my son would catch one, and hoping he wouldn’t!  I worked in a fish processing plant for 5 summers through college, and I think I can safely say that I’m an expert fish cleaner!  So on one hand, I was kind of hoping he’d catch one so that I could see if I still had my skills, (and of course I wanted him to experience the excitement of getting to reel in a fish!) but on the other hand, he’s allergic to fish so I knew that he wouldn’t even be able to enjoy it!  I suppose the 3rd option was that we also could have put it back, but since we didn’t catch anything anyway, we didn’t end up having to make the decision.

Even without catching any fish, we had a great time up at Foy Lake.  There are several lakes up on the mountain just outside of Monticello, and it may sound weird, but I think we kind of forget that they’re there!  Once we were up there, I was wishing we had planned better and brought lunch with us.  It’s so beautiful and peaceful up on the mountain- I could have spent all day up there!  We’ll definitely have to do that the next time we go!

(*Also, now that I’m sitting here typing this, I see that I missed an opportunity to get #89 on the list- Bird Watch.  There were some really beautiful birds up there that I don’t remember seeing before.  I would have taken pictures if I’d realized that it was on the list! )

#94. Build a Fire

#94. on the 101 Ways to Experience San Juan County list- Build a Fire

#94. Build a Fire (101 Ways to Experience San Juan County)

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to have fires in our back yard, so I was happy to see that this was on the 101 list!  We do this at least once a week, so this was by far the easiest thing on the list for us to check off!  And of course, you can’t have a fire without s’mores!

101 Ways to Experience San Juan County

#94. Build a Fire (101 Ways to Experience San Juan County)

#96. Picnic at a Campground

Breakfast at Warner Lake Campground- La Sal Mountains- San Juan County, UT

Breakfast at Warner Lake Campground- La Sal Mountains- San Juan County, UT

In the end of June some friends invited us up to Warner Lake in the La Sal Mountains to camp with them.  What a beautiful place!  I can’t believe we’d never been up there before!  We’re planning another trip up there this summer, so stay tuned for a blog post on it!

#101. Grow Something

#101. Grow Something (101 Ways to Experience San Juan County)

#101. Grow Something (101 Ways to Experience San Juan County)

As easy as this sounds, this was our first year since we moved to Monticello that we planted a vegetable garden.  I’d planted (small) gardens before and swore that I wasn’t going to do it again until I owned a house, but it took us several years to get our house and yard in shape enough that we felt like we were ready to tackle a garden.

More than anything, I really wanted my son to experience the process of planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables ourselves.  When I was growing up my dad always planted a huge garden and although I hated having to help pull weeds, one of my best childhood memories is picking warm, ripe tomatoes from the vine and eating them like an apple right there in the middle of the garden.

So for our first year we just put in one small raised bed and squeezed as much into it as we possibly could.  We took our son with us to Muhlestein’s- our local nursery- and let him help pick out what kinds of vegetables we were going to plant.  We ended up with zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, poblano peppers, onions, and we also bought one of the starts for the giant pumpkins that are part of the contest they hold in October!  (The person with the heaviest pumpkin wins an ipad mini!)

Even trying to keep it small, we still bought too much for our raised bed, so we have one of the tomato plants and the pumpkin planted in another area along with about 6-8 raspberry plants we were given by someone who was thinning out their garden.

First veggies from our garden!

First veggies from our garden!

Although we’ve done almost everything on the list, this is all we’ve done so far this summer, so we definitely have a lot of work to do!  I think I’ll try to hit as many of the Monticello locations as we can on the weekday evenings, then hopefully we can hit 1 or 2 locations around the county each weekend.

I know that they need to change it up a little bit each year, but there were two things in particular that I was really sad to see that were not included on the list this year; The Monticello Ghost Tour and Go Geocaching.  If you’re feeling ambitious and finish the current 101 things on the list, by all means- both of these are well worth your time!

Posted in Blanding, Evening Programs, Fishing, Flowers, Geocaching, Hiking, Monticello, Museums, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah, Visitor Centers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center

Using SkyView to locate the constellations- Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, UT

Using SkyView to locate constellations at Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center

For maybe the first time ever since moving to Monticello just over 7 years ago, there were two different things happening on a Friday night that I wanted to go to!  Now I’m not complaining, this is a good problem to have- I’m just not used to there being multiple things to do on a Friday night here!

But last Friday night was different- there was an outdoor movie showing at Veteran’s Park and Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discover Center.  Luckily they are both ongoing events throughout the summer, so I knew there would be many more chances to go to both, but I really try to support ANYTHING that’s going on in town in hopes that if there’s a good turn-out, maybe things will be held more frequently.  And I do mean anything!  I drag my family to any and every concert in the park- doesn’t matter what kind of music it is- we go!  We go to open houses, ranch roping, free lectures & films, gas station grand openings, (don’t even get me started on the Maverick Grand Opening back in 2011!  In the 7 years we’ve been here, this might still be the biggest event we’ve been to in town!) you name it, we’re there!

So, faced with the dilemma of choosing which event to attend, I finally decided… to go to both!  (My husband was not thrilled with this, but I eventually broke him down!)  So just as we would have normally been putting our son in bed for the night, we got in the car and headed to the park to catch the first 30 minutes or so of the outdoor movie.  Last week the movie was an old John Wayne western- Hondo.  I’m not a fan of western movies, so that actually helped make the decision to go to Stars & S’mores that much easier!

At about 8:30ish we made our exit and got back in the car to head up to the Canyon Country Discovery Center on the hill on the north end of town.  This was the 3rd weekend that they’ve held their Stars & S’mores program and I had heard from some friends who work up there that it had been going pretty well and that they’d been getting a mix of people from town and visitors staying in the hotels.  When we pulled into the parking lot, I was actually kind of surprised by the number of cars that were there!  It was more than I was expecting, but I was happy to see that word was starting to get out, and that people were taking advantage of such a cool program being held right in town.

San Juan County, Utah is home to four Dark Sky Parks; Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park.  Each of these parks is just about an hour from Monticello, and Monticello sits smack-dab in the middle of them, so you know we have great night sky viewing here!  (It’s said that we have one of the darkest night skies in the lower 48!) Each of these parks holds Ranger-led Astronomy Programs on a regular basis throughout the summer, and the programs I’ve been to have all been awesome.  I’m not even into astronomy, and I loved them!  The only drawback to attending them is if you’re not camping at the parks, it’s a bit of a drive back to town late at night after the programs end.

We haven’t attended one of the park programs in the 4 years since our son was born for that very reason- they start late at night, then we’d also have to add an hour of driving to get back home, so we’d likely not get our son to bed before about 11:30 or so, which is much too late.  But don’t get me wrong, the programs in the parks are seriously amazing, and I highly recommend them to anyone visiting our area.  They are just a little bit hard to take little kids to, which is why I was so excited that the Canyon Country Discovery Center started doing the Stars & S’mores program- it’s right here in town, which makes it much more doable to bring little kids to!  Hooray!

Roasting Marshmallows at Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, UT

Roasting Marshmallows at Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

We went into the center and paid at the front desk, (it’s $3/person and well worth it!) and were then directed down the hall past the rock climbing wall, to a door that led out to the courtyard and pond.  It was still twilight as we stepped outside, and we could see that the marshmallow roasting was already well underway.  They had a table set up with marshmallow roasting sticks, s’mores fixin’s, and drinks that people could help themselves to.  And let me tell you, there were a lot of kids there, and they were definitely helping themselves!  My son was no exception- he immediately stuffed a marshmallow in his mouth, then got to work roasting not one, but two marshmallows!

Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, UT

Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

*Notice my son’s shirt in the photo above?  He wanted to wear it that morning when I told him that we were going to a Stars & S’mores party that night!

Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, UT

The perfect s’more! Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, UT

My son is not quite four yet, and still has no patience for the process behind making the perfect s’more, which is by far my favorite summertime tradition!  He’ll usually roast one marshmallow himself which he may or may not make into a s’more, then he’ll want my husband or I to roast the next one, then he just moves on to eating them straight out of the bag!

Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Looking at Saturn at Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

My son’s first up-close look at Saturn- Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

By the time we’d roasted a few marshmallows each, it was dark enough to get the telescopes set up and to look at some planets.  They had 3 telescopes set up and focused one in on Jupiter, one on Mars, and the last one on Saturn, which is my son’s favorite planet.  I was so excited for him to get to see it through a telescope- it was small, but you could definitely see the rings!

Stars & S'mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Stars & S’mores at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Another really cool thing they had for us to use, was a whole stack of ipads with the SkyView app installed.  You could point the ipad anywhere in the sky and it would show you which stars, planets, constellations, and even satellites were in view.

I’d had a similar app on my cell phone at one point which didn’t work that great and I ended up just taking it off, but I really liked the SkyView app.  The constellation feature on SkyView showed illustrated pictures of whichever constellation you were looking at, which was really cool since I’m horrible about remembering what’s what up in the night sky, (Sorry Dad, despite your best efforts in trying to get me interested in astronomy, I just can’t remember more than about 4 constellations!) and I think it definitely made it more interesting for the kids since they could see a picture for each constellation.

Although you probably can’t tell from my photos, about 16 people came throughout the course of the evening.  The way they have it set up, people can come and go throughout the evening and go through everything at their own pace, which is really great for people with little kids.  It could be challenging to try to get your young child to sit through a long astronomy talk, especially at a time that they’d normally be in bed, so I thought the set up of the Stars & S’mores program was perfect for little kids.

I also want to mention that I’ve never been to an astronomy program that was so laid back before… I’ve been to programs at several National Parks & Monuments, I’ve been to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and other special events where they had telescopes set up, and they’ve always been a little bit uptight about making you stand in line for your turn and making sure that nobody touched the telescopes, but at the program at the Canyon Country Discovery Center, aside from a container of handwipes sitting on the table with the food and maybe one reminder to make sure to get all the marshmallow off our hands before using the telescopes, they were extremely laid back about the kids looking through the telescopes, which I really liked.

I had initially been thinking that since this program is held so late in the evening (it currently starts at 8:30pm, but I’m wondering if it might start earlier by the end of the summer when it’s getting dark earlier?) this was going to be our one visit for the summer, but we had such a good time, we’ll definitely be going back again before the summer is over.  I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about it, so hopefully we’ll be able to recruit some friends to go with us next time!

**The Canyon Country Discovery Center is currently open, but will be holding their Grand Opening Festival on Saturday, August 20th, 2016 from 10:00am-10:00pm.  Guest Speaker John B. Herrington, the first Indigenous (Chickasaw) astronaut will speak about the importance of education in science, technology, engineering, & mathematics (STEM).

Grammy Award nominated Native American flutist of Navajo/Ute heritage, The R. Carlos Nakai Quartet will perform, as well as several local bluegrass and folk bands.  Vendor and artisan booths, games, contests, scavenger hunts, bike rides, educational programs, and other fun events are planned throughout the day!  This even is FREE, and you definitely don’t want to miss it! (*I think it’s going to be even bigger than the famous Maverick Grand Opening of 2011!)😛

Distance from the Canyon Country Discovery Center to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

 

Posted in Evening Programs, Events, Monticello, Movies, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Camping on Hart Point Road

Camping along Hart Point Road- My favorite place in San Juan County, UT!

Camping along Hart Point Road- My favorite place in San Juan County, UT!

It’s camping season again in Utah’s Canyon Country, and I’m really looking forward to a summer full of outdoor adventures with my family!  We’ve already camped once this year, and we have another trip planned for next weekend, and all of this camping planning reminded me that I never posted about our final camping trip last year out on Hart Point Road.  It was in late October, and it was by far the best camping trip of the summer!  Definitely one of my favorite places we’ve ever camped… EVER!

We’ve always loved Hart Point Road, and if you’ve followed my blog you’re already familiar with this area- we watched an eclipse out there a few years ago, (LINK ) and we’ve driven out to watch the sunset after looking at some petroglyphs in Indian Creek, (LINK) but I’ve always felt, as I also feel about the Hamburger Rock area in Indian Creek- although it looks like an awesome place to camp, it’s kind of silly to camp less than an hour from home.

But actually, as I’m typing this I’m realizing that we’ve actually done a lot of this kind of camping now that we’ve been camping with our son.  The first place we ever took him camping was at Devil’s Canyon Campground which is only about 13 miles south of Monticello.  (That one was intentionally close to home just in case things went terribly wrong and we needed to drive home in the middle of the night!)

But last fall my in-laws were driving up from Flagstaff to spend a couple days in the area and they were wanting to camp and preferably not in a campground, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to camp out there and show them this amazing overlook!

Putting My Son To Work- Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Putting My Son To Work- Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping at Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping at Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Sure enough, when we pulled up at the spot, which is really just kind of an overlook at the end of a short spur road off of the main road, my in-laws were pretty blown away by the view.  It’s amazing out there.  I always say that it’s my favorite place in San Juan County, but I’m still kind of in awe of the view every time we pull up out there.

Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Again, just like with the Arch Canyon Overlook, this is a place with a huge drop-off.  And again, just like with the Arch Canyon Overlook, it was a little bit stressful at times to be out there with my 3.5 year old son.  But as I mentioned before, I’ve decided that I’m not going to limit the things our family does just because I’m scared or worried about things like that.  Instead, we just have to watch him like a hawk and be as careful as we possibly can.

With all that being said, I really wouldn’t recommend this camping spot to other people with small children.  In our case, we had one child and 4 adults and we kind of took turns watching him, but I think it would be a total nightmare to be out there with multiple children- definitely not a relaxing camping trip!  I wouldn’t ever recommend taking that chance.

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Aside from my concerns about the huge drop-off, my son seemed to love this spot!  All you have to do to keep a 3.5 year old boy entertained is give them some trucks & dirt and some rocks to throw, and someplace to throw them off of, and that will keep them busy for hours!  At least, that’s all it takes to keep my son busy!  He had so much fun throwing rocks off the edge.  I have to admit though- watching him do this probably took at least a year off my life- let’s just say that Grandma is much more relaxed about huge cliffs than I am!

Watching the Sunset on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Watching the Sunset on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

When my son stepped away from the edge for a minute or two, and my blood pressure was able to return to normal, it was a really peaceful spot!  There’s a fire ring set up right near the edge of the cliff and we got a fire going, made dinner, and sat there and enjoyed the view out over Indian Creek, the stars, and the silence.  It’s really an amazing place!

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Gorgeous Sunset on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County- UT

Night Sky- Hart Point Road- San Juan County, UT

Night Sky- Hart Point Road- San Juan County, UT

We had just got a new camera a day or two before our camping trip, and I don’t know about all cameras these days, but this one didn’t even come with a manual, you have to go online if you want to read it- and it’s long!  So the only thing we had time to read was how to do night shots, which I tested out quite a bit.  It was a great location for it, but I’m sure I didn’t read enough of the manual to do the camera justice as far as its capabilities go!  Now that it’s camping season again, I’ll have to be sure to read up so I’ll be prepared next time we head out!

Sunrise over Indian Creek from Hart Point Road- San Juan County, UT

Sunrise over Indian Creek from Hart Point Road- San Juan County, UT

Camping on Hart Point Road- San Juan County, UT

Camping Breakfast- Hart Point Road- San Juan County, UT

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’ve already gone camping once this year and it was our best trip yet with our son, as far as sleeping goes!  The first time we took him camping he woke up at about 4:00am and didn’t go back to sleep, but his sleep has gotten a little better on each camping trip we’ve gone on since, and this last time a couple weeks ago he slept until 8:00am!  He doesn’t even do that at home!  It gave me great hope that the day after camping trips might no longer equal a miserable day with a moody kid!  I think we might be ready to try camping for multiple nights now… I’ll be sure to blog about it if/when we do, so be sure to check back!

Directions:

From Monticello: Head north on Hwy 191 approx. 14 miles to the turn for the Needles District of Canyonlands.  Turn left onto Hwy 211 and drive approximately 10 miles until you have just passed the turn for the Hart’s Draw Road (Also called Co. Rd 101 and Forest Rd 105) leading to Monticello on your left.  The Hart Point Rd is the next road coming in from the right- it’s an unpaved road, but does not require high clearance or 4-wheel drive.

*Alternate Route- Via Hart’s Draw Road from Monticello: 

From Main St. (Hwy 191) in Monticello, turn west on 200 S right next to the Welcome Center.  You will pass through about 4 blocks of houses, then this road becomes Co. Rd 101/Forest Rd 105.  Continue on this road for about 18 miles until it ends where it meets Hwy 211.  Turn left onto Hwy 211, and the Hart Point Road will be an immediate right.

From Moab: Head south on 191 approx. 40 miles to the turn for the Needles District of Canyonlands.  Turn right onto Hwy 211 and drive approximately 10 miles until you have just passed the turn for the Hart’s Draw Road (Also called Co. Rd 101 and Forest Rd 105) leading to Monticello on your left.  The Hart Point Rd is the next road coming in from the right- it’s an unpaved road, but does not require high clearance or 4-wheel drive.

Distance to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

 

Posted in Camping, Monticello, Scenic Drives, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Our mid-February through early March weather was AMAZING this year- perfect for getting out and doing some pre-spring hikes.  We were in high ‘show season’ in our office (Jan-March every year when we attend Travel, Sportsman’s, Adventure & Gear shows to promote tourism in San Juan County) and I think I’ve counted that from the first show I attended in January to the last which was the 2nd weekend of April, including personal weekends away, I was out of town 7 of 14 weekends!  But somehow in there, my family managed to get hikes in on 5 separate weekends- I think the weather must have been on our side this year to allow that to happen!

One of our first hikes this year was in mid February, and we decided to hike to Monarch Cave which is located on Comb Ridge, just southwest of Bluff.  We’ve done a lot of other hikes on Comb Ridge; Procession Panel, Wolfman Panel, Fish Mouth Cave, etc., and they’re all amazing- Comb Ridge is definitely one of my favorite places to hike!

Now that our son is getting older (3 1/2 yrs) we’re determined to get out and hike and camp as much as possible this year.  We’re also thinking we might finally be ready to take him on the San Juan River this year- just the upper section between Sand Island and Mexican Hat.  It’s not that I didn’t think he was old enough to go on the river before- I think he’s more than ready!  It’s just that he has multiple & severe food allergies and the thought of him having an allergic reaction on the river, especially on the lower section in the canyon between Mexican Hat and Clay Hills, is pretty terrifying!  (Trust me, my husband manages the San Juan River Office at the BLM and he’s heard some pretty bad stories of things that have happened to kids on the river!)

Riding on Dad's shoulders on the Monarch Cave Trail

Riding on Dad’s shoulders on the Monarch Cave Trail

We were determined to take advantage of any nice weather we could, so when the weather forecast was calling for low 60s around Bluff that weekend, we decided to head down there to take advantage of it!  We picked Monarch Cave because it’s a pretty short hike- only about 2 miles round trip, so we thought that would be a doable length for our son, although as it turned out, the trail was pretty overgrown so he ended up walking very little of it and rode on dad’s shoulders most of the time.  Overgrown trails and 3ft tall kids are not a good combination- everything that would be brushing up against an adult’s thighs and waist are eye level for a little kid- not optimal hiking conditions!

Lunch at Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge

Lunch at Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge

Although the weather was really nice the day we hiked to Monarch Cave, I think I’d actually recommend going a little later in the season because just as you leave the trailhead, you have to cross a wash and it was extremely MUDDY!  At first we tried to walk through it carefully to keep our shoes from getting caked with mud, but after a few minutes we realized that there was no way around it and we were just wasting our time.  Our shoes were so caked with mud that I think it took pretty much the whole 1 mile hike to the ruin before our shoes were mostly clean again.  (You can see in our lunch picture above that my husband’s shoes were still a little muddy.)

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

We knew that some of our friends had been out there the previous day, so when we came to the ammo can with the trail register inside, we read it out loud to our son so he could hear that one of his good buddies had just been there the day before!  I think he was pretty excited about it, but maybe a little confused about how his friend got out there.

Checking out a pictograph at Monarch Cave

Checking out the petroglyphs at Monarch Cave

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Pictographs at Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Grinding Grooves at Monarch Cave

Grinding Grooves at Monarch Cave

Checking out Pottery Shard

Checking out Pottery Shards and Corn Cobs

Pictograph in Monarch Cave

Pictograph in Monarch Cave

Mostly, we had picked Monarch Cave because we thought the length of the hike made it kid-friendly, but it really turned out to be an awesome place for kids!  Between the pictographs, petroglyphs, grinding grooves, and the cave itself, there was a lot to keep my little guy busy!  The only thing that made it a little less kid-friendly was the fact that there was a drop-off on one side, but it wasn’t a problem as long as we took turns watching him.

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

Monarch Cave- Comb Ridge- San Juan County, UT

You used to be able to walk right up to the ruins, but currently it’s roped off and you can only look at it from a distance.  But you can still get up close with all the other things I mentioned above, (grinding grooves, petroglyphs, etc.) plus the view of the ruins in the cave with the discolorations on the wall above really makes for great photos, so we really didn’t feel like we were missing too much to not be able to walk right up to the ruin.  It wasn’t overly warm on the day that we were there, but I think this would be a great late spring or early summer hike with all the shade in the alcove and from the high walls on both sides of the canyon.

My son's favorite thing about Monarch Cave? The Echos!

My son’s favorite thing about Monarch Cave? The Echos!

I almost forgot- I think the thing that kept my son busy for the longest amount of time was not the grinding grooves or any of the other cool archaeological things at the cave, but it was actually yelling and listening to the echos that bounced back from within the cave and the canyon.  Luckily, we were the only ones there- I’m pretty sure other hikers would not have thought it was as cool as he did!

**I wanted to share this informative video put out by Friends of Cedar Mesa, which is just one in a series of ‘Visit With Respect’ videos that they’ve been rolling out over the past few weeks.  In the excitement of visiting a new ruin, it can be easy to forget how easily ruins can be damaged by people and even by our favorite four-legged hiking companions. These videos offer helpful tips on how to ensure that our amazing archaeological sites like Monarch Cave, can be enjoyed by future generations.  If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in their Visit With Respect series, please click HERE.

Directions:

From Bluff: Travel west on hwy 191 (this road becomes hwy 163 about 4 miles west of Bluff) for about 5 miles and turn right (north) onto Co Rd 262 (Butler Wash Rd)  After passing through a gate near the highway, continue on this road for 6.9 miles then turn left (west) down a short single track to the trailhead. (There is also a parking area/trailhead at 7.1 miles- I think this is the one we used)

I’m not sure that there are signs at each trailhead that tell you the names of each trail, but following your odometer seems to be the best way to find the sites on Comb Ridge.  Follow the trail approximately 1 mile to Monarch Cave- the trail will be obvious and well marked.

Distance From Monarch Cave to Lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

 A big thanks to gjhikes.com for allowing us to use their Monarch Cave map!  Check out their hiking blog for ideas on more amazing hikes in Utah as well as Arizona, Colorado, & New Mexico!

 

Posted in Bluff, Hiking, Rock Art, Ruins, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Arch Canyon Overlook

Arch Canyon Overlook- One of the most beautiful places I've been in San Juan County!

The view at Arch Canyon Overlook is AMAZING!

Every year about mid to late February when the temperatures creep up to the 40s and sometimes even 50s, I start to get the itch to get out and explore this beautiful area we live in!  Two weekends ago it was 41 degrees in Monticello and my husband and I wanted to take our son for a quick hike and were debating between either Indian Creek or Bluff, and finally decided on Indian Creek since it would save almost an hour of driving and it was already early afternoon by the time we decided to go.

Well, it didn’t quite turn out as we had planned.  As we left Monticello and dropped down off Peter’s Hill, we watched as the temperature started dropping and by the time we got down into Indian creek it was only 37 degrees and there was more snow on the ground than I’ve ever seen down there!  It was really sad because our son was so excited to go on an ‘adventure’, he didn’t want to stop walking once we got to the petroglyph panel at Newspaper Rock. We weren’t dressed for hiking in the snow at all since we had thought it would be warmer down there and hadn’t worn or brought any snow gear, so we ended up just visiting Newspaper Rock and building snowmen and having a snowball fight which seemed to satisfy him.

We built a snowman (and snowdog!) at Newspaper Rock!

We built a snowman (and snowdog!) at Newspaper Rock!

Last weekend was another nice one with temperatures up to the low 50s in some of the lower elevations around here.  Since it was Valentine’s Day we decided to head to Moab for some retail therapy, lunch, and a hike to Longbow Arch.  I was so proud of my little guy- he walked the whole way there himself, all 1.2 miles!  I didn’t willingly hike over a mile until I was in college, and here he is at 3 1/2 hiking like a champ!

Longbow Arch

2016 Valentine’s Day Hike to Longbow Arch

Sorry, I got a little sidetracked there!  But what I’m getting at is that every year when the cold weather lifts for a couple weeks (yes, I’m fully aware that winter is NOT over and we’re probably definitely going to get more snow!) I start to get excited at the thought of all the hiking and camping possibilities that are right around the corner!  Since hiking season will soon be upon us, (hopefully!) I wanted to share one of my favorite ‘adventures’ from last fall out to Arch Canyon Overlook.

We’d always heard about Arch Canyon Overlook and had wanted to go, but had been told that the road could be pretty rough out there.  Last October my husband and I finally decided to give it a try just to see how far we might be able to make it up the road.  I think we totally lucked out because when we got on the road, it looked like it had just been graded and we were able to make it all the way out to the overlook in our (semi-high clearance) Subaru Outback. After we went and were telling our friends & coworkers about it, they were all really surprised to hear that we made it all the way out there, so I think we must have just had perfect timing.  So don’t count on being able to make it all the way there in your vehicle unless you have high clearance!  But you can always drive as far as you’re comfortable with, then just walk the rest of the way in.  (Map at the end of post)

Arch Canyon Overlook

Arch Canyon Overlook

Arch Canyon Overlook is AMAZING!  I seriously couldn’t believe how beautiful it was up there!  I’ve been all over that area, including hiking the north and south (House on Fire Ruin) forks of Mule Canyon and riding a 4-wheeler through Arch Canyon with the San Juan ATV Safari, (read my blog entry on the ride HERE) but I still wasn’t prepared for the view from the top.  I almost want to compare it to the Grand Canyon… but that’s a dangerous thing to get people expecting that they’re going to see.  But I will say that the way I felt when I walked up to the overlook was similar to how I felt the first time I saw the Grand Canyon.  It’s an amazing view from up there!

As much as we like to get out with our little guy, it’s also very stressful to take him places like this with such big drop-offs.  My husband used to work for the National Park Service at Glacier National Park, and got me into reading the ‘Morning Report’ which is a daily report of all the incidents and accidents that happen in National Parks and Monuments across the country.

When I first started reading it I was shocked at how many drownings, falls, and suicides there are in our parks and monuments on a regular basis!  I had no idea, and it’s always really stuck with me.  I haven’t been reading the Morning Report for several years now, (probably since I had a child and barely have time to get dressed or brush my teeth some days!) but I just looked it up and it appears that the Morning Report is no more… looks like August 31st of 2015 was the last day and the park service has changed to a new website and as far as I can see, it’s more just news releases about events and things that are happening in the parks.  Here’s a LINK to the old Morning Report just to give you an idea of what it was like.  You can still see the posts for the week leading up to the final day.

As I was saying, it’s stressful to take our son to places like this with big drop-offs and no rails, (I’ll be writing about an awesome camping trip we went on in the fall soon, but again, it was right on the rim of a canyon with a huge drop-off) but I’ve decided that I’m not going to limit the things our family does just because I’m scared or worried about things like that.  Instead, we just have to watch him like a hawk and make him sit down or hold him when we’re anywhere near the edge.

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Looking Across the Canyon- Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Watching Birds- Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Of course he had to climb it himself- Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

Arch Canyon- San Juan County, UT

I think the photos speak for themselves… it’s an amazing place and you’ll likely have it all to yourself when you visit, which in my opinion is one of the best things about all the beautiful places like this in San Juan County.  So maybe I should stop telling people about all my favorite places?  I’ve thought of that, but this area is just too amazing to keep it all to ourselves!  Plus, San Juan County is one of the biggest counties in the country, so I think there’s enough space for all of us to enjoy!

Directions:

Turn north on Co. Rd 263 (located about halfway between  Blanding and Natural Bridges National Monument) near mile marker 102.  If you’re coming from the west it’s very easy to find- you will see a sign for ‘Mule Canyon Ruins‘- this is NOT where House on Fire is located, this is a developed site with a kiva with interpretive signing, paved parking lot, and a pit toilet.  As soon as you pass this, the turn for House on Fire will be your next left.  If you’re coming from the east, it’s the next right after mile marker 102.

After turning off of hwy 95, reset your odometer and follow Co. Rd 263 past the trailhead for House On Fire Ruins and continue for about 1 mile until just after you cross the North Fork of Mule Canyon and stay left at the fork.  Continue on this road until mile 5.2 where you will reach another fork- stay right on the more well used road and continue to 6.4 miles where you will reach another fork.  If you’re worried about clearance, you can park here and walk the final .2 miles to the overlook, otherwise turn on this road and continue to the parking area.

If you would like to visit Arch Canyon Overlook with one of our local guides on a jeep, side-by-side, ATV, or hiking tour, please visit the Guides & Outfitters page on our website.

Distance from House on Fire to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

Posted in ATV, Blanding, Camping, Cedar Mesa, Fall, Geology, Hiking, Rock Art, Things to do for FREE!, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments