Canyonlands Lodging- Cabin & Vacation Home Rentals

Canyonlands Lodging - Canyon View Cabin

Canyonlands Lodging – Canyon View Cabin

Short term vacation rentals seem to be growing in popularity at an extremely fast rate these past few years, and Canyonlands Lodging has gotten in on the game in a big way in San Juan & Grand counties.  Canyonlands Lodging owns and/or manages over 50 properties from Moab down to south of Blanding, which offer a great alternative to traditional hotels & motels.

There are many reasons that people may search for alternative lodging; traveling or meeting up with a large group, traveling with pets or horses, desire to cook your own meals, etc.  Or in the case of my family, the NEED to be able to cook our own food due to my son’s multiple & severe food allergies.  When we travel, if we’re going to be staying somewhere more than just a night or two, we MUST have accommodations with a full kitchen, so that leaves us looking for either extended stay type hotels with kitchens, or short term house or apartment rentals.  Whatever people’s reasons are for seeking out short term rentals, I’m grateful that there are as many options out there as there are!

Right before Christmas Jerry Murdock, the owner of Canyonlands Lodging- took me out and gave me a tour of some of the properties they own and manage.  I’ve been looking at pictures of the cabins on their website for years, but it was great to get out and take a look at them in person.  They have a few new cabins and homes that have recently been added to their website too, although we couldn’t visit all of them since some were occupied the day we went out and some where already closed up for the winter.  Plus, there are about 50 of them!  Way too many for a one day outing!  But I was totally impressed with the ones we did see, and wanted to share some of my photos on my blog…

Entryway to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Entryway to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

I missed taking a photo of the large ranch style sign that marks the entrance to the property, but luckily Jerry was able to send me one to include in my write-up.  Just after you pass under it, you’ll come to the sign above which will point you in the direction of whichever cabin you’re looking for.

Coyote on the road to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Coyote on the road to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Before we’d even reached the first cabin, we spotted a coyote in the road in front of us.  It was quite a ways away, so I had to zoom in as far as I could with my camera, but it was still very exciting to see!  If it was exciting to those of us who live out here and are no strangers to wild animals, I can only imagine how excited some of our visitors must be to get to see animals like this during their stay!

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Our fist stop was the White Pine Cabin– a cute little 1 bedroom cabin with a loft that sleeps up to 6 people.

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

You’ll notice in the photos above that the cabin was fully decked out for Christmas- it turned out that all the cabins were.  I’ve stayed at short term rental houses with my family many times over the holidays and it’s such a nice, and appreciated touch to have holiday decorations up when you’re away from home!

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Next up was the Ranch Cabin– a 2 bedroom cabin with a loft that sleeps up to 10 people.

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

This cabin was occupied so I didn’t get to take any photos inside, but I’ve borrowed a few off the Canyonlands Lodging website.  As you can see, it’s gorgeous.  I think this might have been one of my favorites.  I love the huge loft with 3 queen mattresses!  I envision staying there with friends or family and letting all the kids sleep up in the loft together.  How much fun would that be?!

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

The next cabin was the largest that we visited- the Canyon View Family Lodge, which has 3 bedrooms and sleeps up to 12 people.

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

One of my favorite things in the Canyon View Family Lodge, had to have been the bathroom in the master bedroom that was made to look like an outhouse!

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

The Canyon View Family Lodge is absolutely beautiful and has all the western touches that I know so many visitors to our area love; saddles made into wall art, log bed frames, and the outhouse bathroom in the master just to name a few!

Africabin - Canyonlands Lodging

Africabin – Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

The Africabin, which has 2 bedrooms & a spacious loft (sleeps 8 total) was another of my favorites… The clever name for this cabin is a combination of ‘Africa’ & ‘Cabin’, which is exactly what you get when you step inside!  From the moment you walk in the door, you’re surrounded by authentic African art collected by the owners during the time they lived in Africa.

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Step out the back door and you’ll find yourself on the covered back deck which serves as a relaxing breakfast nook overlooking the surrounding canyons and forest.  And just below that is the firepit & BBQ set up and ready for an evening of relaxing around the fire and stargazing in one of the darkest places in the contiguous 48 states!

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

They manage way too many homes & cabins to be included in just one blog entry, but you can look at photos and details for all of them on their website.  If you’re planning a visit to southeastern Utah, and are looking for alternative lodging options in the Moab, Monticello, or Blanding areas, check out the Canyonlands Lodging website and see if they have a home or cabin that meets your needs!

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

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Posted in Blanding, Lodging, Monticello, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Veteran's Park -Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Veteran’s Park -Monticello, UT

This past weekend was the Monticello Festival of the Trees and it was bigger and better than ever!  I volunteered to do a tree for our office again this year, and it was much faster and easier (and cheaper!) this time since I saved all the ornaments I bought and made last year.

San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services Tree at the 2015 Monticello Tree Lighting

San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services Tree at the 2015 Monticello Tree Lighting

Last year, it was really just trees set up in Pioneer Park for the month of December, but there wasn’t really a community gathering that went along with it- everyone just set their trees up on their own time, and people came to look at them throughout the month.  But this year the city moved the event to Veteran’s Park and put the trees under the pavilion, which I really like since the trees kept blowing over last year and we’d have to trudge through the snow to get to them to try to right them again.

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Monticello, UT

Rough siding was put up on the pavilion which gives it kind of a rustic log cabin feel, and they also decorated the outside with boughs and pine cones which really added to the holiday atmosphere.

The festival was held on Saturday, and my family had gone to Moab that morning, but we raced back so that I could set up the tree for my office before the festival started at 6:00pm.  I’m not sure if it was because we had spent the morning in Moab and it had been slightly warmer there, but when we came back and unloaded the tree off the top of our car and took it to the pavilion to set it up, it was FREEZING! After only about 10 minutes, I could barely feel my hands anymore!  After we got the tree in the stand we drove home, I put on about 3-4 layers of clothing and bundled my son up in his snowsuit, coat, hat, scarf, and mittens, and we returned to the park so I could decorate the tree while he played at the playground.

Since the tree I decorated is for the San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services office, last year I came up with the idea of buying postcards with pictures of the parks, monuments, & attractions in our county and laminating them.  I wanted something that could withstand the elements since they’d be outside for a month.

It was really cold outside, but I was doing fine until it came time to tie the ribbons on all the postcards.  I had to take my gloves off to do it, and my hands were so cold, I could barely get them to tie a knot, let alone 20 knots to hang up all the postcards!  It was almost as if I was watching someone else’s hands work- it was really weird!  But of course, I survived and got the tree done with 45 minutes to spare (I was definitely the last to get my tree done that day!)

I have to admit, after spending just 30 minutes or so decorating my tree, I was a little concerned about how cold it was going to be almost an hour later when the sun was completely down and the festival was starting.  But after running home and feeding my son dinner, we bundled back up and braved the cold again!

Santa's chair at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

Santa’s chair at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

Waiting for Santa at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

Waiting for Santa at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

When we arrived just a couple minutes after 6:00pm, I couldn’t believe how many people were already there!  Events around here are sometimes not very well attended, but this one had a great turnout!  I would guess that over the course of the evening there were probably around 200 people that came, which is definitely a successful event for Monticello.

Santa's Sleigh at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees (photo: Min*Designs

Santa’s Sleigh at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees (photo: Melinda Redd)

After the opening welcome, the crowd cheered and chanted, ‘Santa! Santa!’ as a sleigh all lit up with Christmas lights pulled up to the pavilion and Santa jumped out and made his way to his seat of honor.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of Santa- there were SO many kids there, I couldn’t even get close to where he was!  (My son had already seen Santa in Moab that morning, so he had no interest in waiting in line to sit on his lap again.)  Luckily a friend of mine snapped this photo of his sleigh!

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Veteran's Park -Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Veteran’s Park -Monticello, UT

Yes, I’m posting this photo of the food table twice- it was that good!  There were homemade gingersnap cookies & donut holes, oranges, candy canes, and hot chocolate & mini marshmallows, plus graham crackers more marshmallows for roasting over the two fire pits they had set up outside the pavilion.  It was quite an elaborate spread and it was all free to the public!

Now to the trees…

The trees looked great and the evening couldn’t have been any better! (Unless of course it could have been 15-20 degrees warmer!)  It was so nice to see all the community involvement that went into it- from the local businesses who decorated trees for the event, all the work put in by the city employees and volunteers coordinating and setting everything up, and of course we can’t forget about everyone who braved the cold to come!

The trees will be set up in the pavilion at Veteran’s Park through December, so be sure to stop by and take a look- evening is the best time since they will be lit up!

Search for Santas Scavenger Hunt

Search for Santas Scavenger Hunt

In conjunction with the Festival of the Trees, two other holiday themed events are taking place around town for the next couple weeks; a Gingerbread House Tour at thirteen Monticello businesses, and a Christmas scavenger hunt- ‘Search for Santas’ is taking place in Pioneer & Veteran’s Parks.

For the Search for Santas scavenger hunt, there are nine sets of Santas to find, each with ‘Merry Christmas’ written on them in different languages.  To participate, pick up a flyer at any of the Gingerbread House Tour locations (Conoco/Subway, Zions Bank, Wells Fargo, San Juan Record, Monticello Mercantile, Unique Creations, Mimi’s Thrift Emporium, Main Street Drug & Boutique, Artisan Jewelers, Southeast Utah Welcome Center, Thatzza Pizza, Mission Discovery School, or Horse Head Grill) and list the languages that each of the Christmas wishes are in & the parks where you found each group of Santas.

After completing the scavenger hunt, (you only need to find 8 of the 9 groups of Santas) take your flyer to any of the Gingerbread House Tour locations for a prize!  I’m planning to take my son to do it in the next few afternoons as we have time.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!  Who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt?! Especially scavenger hunts with prizes at the end!

Gingerbread House on Display at Artisan Jewelers in Monticello (photo: Melinda Redd)

Gingerbread House on Display at Artisan Jewelers in Monticello (photo: Melinda Redd)

To participate in the Gingerbread House Tour, stop in at any of the businesses listed above and pick up a ballot.  As you make your way around town, be sure to get your ballot initialed at each location and cast a vote for your favorite gingerbread house!  Turn in your ballot at any of the participating businesses to be entered into the multiple-prize drawing that will be held at Artisan Jewelers at 6:00pm on Saturday, December 17th.

The Gingerbread Houses are also being auctioned off with all proceeds going to the local Food Bank and/or Toy Drive.  So if you see one you would like to take home, don’t hesitate to bid on it- it’s for a great cause!

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 Events, Monticello, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arch Canyon Overlook & Cave Tower Ruins Tour with Four Corners Adventures

Arch Canyon Overlook- Four Corners Adventures Tour

Arch Canyon Overlook- Four Corners Adventures Tour

It’s been over a year now since I first contacted Four Corners Adventures in Blanding, asking about the possibility of doing a mini familiarization tour out on Cedar Mesa for our Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff Fort visitor center staff.  We e-mailed back and forth several times going over details and prices, but unfortunately with a group as large as we were looking at (up to 20-25 people) the trip was just too expensive for my office to cover it, especially as late in the year as it was.  But I always kept the idea in the back of my head hoping that somehow we’d be able to figure out a way to make it work.

About 3 weeks ago Jared Berrett, the owner of Four Corners Adventures, e-mailed me saying that he had some free time coming up in his schedule and he offered to do a tour out to Arch Canyon Overlook & Cave Tower Ruins for our visitor center staff free of charge.  I was ecstatic about his offer, and we spent the next week or so e-mailing back and forth figuring out the details & coordinating with our visitor center staff.

First snow in Monticello in 2016

First snow in Monticello in 2016

Now I want to mention that we’ve been having a gorgeous, unseasonably warm fall.  This is my 8th fall in Monticello and I don’t think we’ve ever made it to the week before Thanksgiving without snow before, but this year has been incredible.  I was wearing sandals and T-shirts up until two days before the tour!  BUT, as luck would have it, the forecast for the the day of our tour was snow.  I kept thinking that it was possible that it wouldn’t actually hit us, but I’m pretty sure that deep down I actually knew that we were going to get snow, and it was just wishful thinking.  I woke up the morning of the tour to a light drift snow on the ground, and by the time I left for work at 8:00am, it was snowing again and I couldn’t even see across the back parking lot from my office window.

I put in a quick call to Four Corners Adventures’ store in Blanding to ask if the trip was still on.  Dallin, their General Manager, answered and said that they had gotten a little bit of snow, but it didn’t sound nearly as bad as what we had (they’re almost 1,000 ft lower in elevation than Monticello) and they could actually see some patches of blue sky to the south, so the trip was still on!  I told them the roads here were covered, so we might be a little late, but we’d be there and to not leave without us!

First snow in Monticello in 2016

Our tour group getting ready to head out with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

My coworker and I picked up the two employees from the Monticello Visitor Center who were joining us on the tour, and slowly made our way down the snow-covered roads to Blanding.  When we arrived at the Four Corners Adventures store right across from the Blanding Visitor Center, everyone else was already there and they were in the middle of going around the circle doing introductions.  After everyone had introduced themselves we loaded up in their two vans, and hit the road.

Great interpretive information on the drive to Arch Canyon Overlook from our guide, Jared- owner of Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Great interpretive information on the drive to Arch Canyon Overlook from our guide, Jared- owner of Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

On the ride out I was in Jared’s van, and he gave us a lot of great interpretive information on the drive.  We had 3 people from Utah.com who were able to join us on the tour, so I think it was especially informative for them since they’re not from the area.  He gave a rough timeline of when the San Juan County area was inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloan people, (approx. 700-1300AD) and he pointed out ruins that were visible from the road and trailheads to popular ruins as we passed them.

I always love getting to go out with our guides- after living in San Juan County for 7.5 years I’ve been to quite a few places in this area, but there’s still LOTS I haven’t seen.  I think you could live here your whole life and never see it all, but I intend to put as much of a dent in it as I can, as long as I’m here!

As much as I’ve seen on my own, going out with a guide is a whole different experience.  For example, I’ve gone on guided trips to Monument Valley & Mystery Valley with Goulding’s, Rafting on the San Juan River with Wild Rivers Expeditions, canyoneering in Leprechaun Canyon with North Wash Outfitters, taken side-by-sides to River House Ruin & Butler Petroglyph Panel with Four Corners Adventures, and now, out to Arch Canyon Overlook & Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures.  Of the 5 trips I’ve been on with guides, I’d been to 4 of the locations with my husband previously, but I still learned SO much each time I went out with a guide.

If you’re visiting a place for the first time and you’re with a guide, of course you’re going to learn a lot!  But even when you’ve been there previously, when you go with someone else you get to hear them talk about it from their perspective and you always learn something new.  Most importantly though in my mind, is getting to experience a trip led by one of our local guides, which is invaluable to any of us working in the tourism industry- we now have first-hand experience that we’re able to share with our visitors.  You can hear about something your whole life and repeat that information to others, but nothing compares to getting to experience it for yourself first hand.  I think the excitement of getting to share your own experience with others really resonates with them- they can feel your excitement and they become excited about it too- that’s why I think first hand experiences are priceless.

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

The van ride went by really fast and before we knew it, we had pulled up to Arch Canyon Overlook and everyone piled out of the vehicles.  It was snowing lightly and we could see another flurry working it’s way toward us from the south, so we knew that our time to take in the view and get photos might be limited.  We all walked along the rim and then made our way out to the point via a narrow metal staircase/ramp.

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

I’ve been out there one other time, and it’s only been a year since my visit, but I was still just as much in awe of the view as I was on my first visit.  San Juan County is such an unbelievably beautiful place- even after 7.5 years the beauty of this place continues to blow my mind!  And although it was cold, windy, & snowy I was so excited to be out there to get to see it lightly blanketed with the first snow of the season!  As I mentioned to some of the others on the tour- I never would have taken my own vehicle out there on a day like that, so it was definitely a treat to be out there in the snow!

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT Photo: Four Corners Adventures

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT.  Photo: Four Corners Adventures

Before we headed back to the vans Jared took a group photo with everyone who was still out on the point.  (I think the photo above is about 2/3 of our group) Glad he thought to take the photo- usually I’m very good about doing it, but I completely spaced it that day.  Chalk one up for going with a guide!

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Our next stop was Cave Tower Ruins- pretty much across the highway from our turn for Arch Canyon Overlook.  One really nice thing about Cave Tower Ruins (also called Seven Tower Ruins) is that it is one of the few easily accessible ruins that you can pretty much drive right up to and there really isn’t a hike involved.  This is great for individuals with mobility issues who otherwise may not be able get out and see ruins like these.

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

We walked up to the edge of the rim and Jared pointed out the ruins- we could see the remains of 5 towers from where we were standing, and if you walk along the rim you can easily find the remains of the other two.  Jared also pointed out a ruin that I had never noticed, even though I’ve probably been there 5-6 times.  As you’re walking up toward the largest tower still standing, you can see what looks like the outline of a square or rectangular shaped ruin.  There really isn’t a rubble pile remaining, so it’s not as obvious as the towers, but there was definitely some kind of square structure there at one time.  (See what I mean about how you always learn something new when you go with a guide!)

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

We all took our time walking along the rim, looking at the ruins, & taking photos.  It was still really cold and windy, but it had really cleared up and turned in to a beautiful day to be out on Cedar Mesa!

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

We all made our way back to the vehicles at our own pace, and when I walked up I could see that Dallin was moving one of the vans to make a wind-block for us, and Jared was getting a huge thermos of hot chocolate out of the back of the other van.  What an unexpected treat it was to have hot chocolate to warm ourselves up with on such a cold & windy day! (Not to mention bottled water, granola bars & trail mix that were passed around as well!) Chalk another one up for the guides!

These extra touches, like hot chocolate on the first snowy day of the year, are the things that turn a good trip into a great trip!  I think everyone really appreciated the hot chocolate, and for 10 minutes or so we all forgot about the cold and the wind, and happily drank our hot chocolate, snacked on granola bars & trail mix, and stood around chatting and just enjoying being out there with each other.

The day was over too soon- I would have happily stayed out there all day!  But I’m really happy we were able to make it happen and that so many of our visitor center staff were able to come, and I’m extremely grateful to Jared for offering to take us all out.  And more than anything, I’m thrilled that I now have the experience of going on a tour with Jared & Dallin and look forward to being able to share my experience with visitors who are planning their trips to our area!

Four Corners Adventures provides a wide range of guide services including both land based tours, and guided river trips on the San Juan River.  Their land based trips include Jeep, Hummer, Side-by-side, Mt. biking, Backpacking, & Canyoneering trips, and they also rent out jeeps & mt. bikes for people to take out on their own.  Also, in addition to their guided river trips, they rent rafts, canoes, kayaks, SUPs, and a wide variety of gear such as camp stoves, lanterns, water jugs, tents, sleeping bags, dry bags, etc.- pretty much anything you’ll need on the river aside from your own personal items.  They also run vehicle shuttles and pick-ups for rafters on private river trips, AND, as if that wasn’t enough, if you’re looking for a place to stay while you’re in the area, they’ve got you covered with their 2 bedroom rental- The Loft.

**Archaeological Site Etiquette**

As always, I want to remind readers to please be respectful when visiting our archaeological sites. Please refrain from touching or entering ruins, if hiking with your dog, please don’t let it enter ruins, and please leave any artifacts you may come across where they are.  Something as simple as picking up a pottery sherd and moving it, takes that artifact out of context and archaeologists are no longer able to get the information from it that they would have been able to, had it been left in place.

Here’s a really informative video that goes over some basic archaeological site etiquette…  (If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in the ‘Visit With Respect’ series, please click HERE.)

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

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

Posted in Blanding, Cedar Mesa, Hiking, Ruins, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Tours, Tours/Guided Trips, Travel, Utah, Visitor Centers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Slickrock Hiking Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

View from the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

View from the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Working for San Juan County Visitor Services and answering the calls that come in on our toll free information line, a question that I’m often asked is, ‘When is the best time to visit?’.  This is such a no brainer- FALL!  In the fall, temperatures are perfect for spending the entire day outside, no need to get an early start to try to beat the heat of the day.  The coming of fall means we’ve yet again survived the heat of summer, and can start hiking & exploring in the desert again.

Two weekends ago the weather was looking perfect for getting out for a hike, so we decided to hike the Slickrock trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.  There are two ways to get from Monticello to the Needles District entrance, (directions at end of post) but I definitely recommend taking the mountain road- it’s more scenic than Hwy 191/Hwy 211.  The views out over Canyonlands are really beautiful, and you can always see deer, cows, (it’s Open Range out here, so if you’re wanting to see some cows while you’re ‘out west’, this is a good place to do it! 🙂 ) and in the fall- you can often see turkeys on this road as well.

Aggressive Crow in Canyonlands

Aggressive Crow in Canyonlands

When we got to the trailhead and were loading up our backpacks, a car with three women inside pulled up behind us and as the women started to get out, a crow landed on the roof of their car.  When the woman in the passenger seat opened her door to get out, the crow jumped onto the door and just sat there cawing.  At first it was kind of cool- they were taking pictures and I was taking pictures, but then the crow wouldn’t move!  We started talking about the crazy crow, and I found out that they were from Switzerland and were on their first visit to Utah.  Eventually, after lightly trying to swing the door closed for about the 10th time, the crow decided to move on.  Weird.  (*I made sure to tell them that this wasn’t normal crow behavior!)

My son between downpours on the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

My son between downpours on the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

After the crazy crow finally flew away, we were ready to start down the trail.  We weren’t more than a minute in when it started sprinkling on us.  No problem- since there had been a slight chance of rain, I had brought rain jackets for my son and I.  My husband on the other hand, had not brought his, and the light rain quickly turned into a heavy downpour.  We decided to try to find a little overhang to hide under until the rain passed, but after spending a couple minutes looking without finding anything, we just gave up and kept hiking.

Potholes on the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

Potholes on the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

The rain probably lasted about 10 minutes at the most, and when it was over we were left with 2.4 miles of awesome potholes to keep my son happily hiking along!  It’s no secret that kids LOVE water, and what better way to keep a 4 year old boy happy (read: walking on his own and not asking to be carried) than thousands of potholes full of water to splash in?!

Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

This trail is what’s called a ‘lollipop loop’- you begin the hike on a trail that takes you out to a point where a loop starts.  After completing the loop, you hike back to your car on the same trail you started on.  I definitely prefer loop trails when possible- I like to see as much different terrain as possible.  Whether I’m driving or hiking, I try to avoid backtracking whenever possible.

Water in Canyonlands

Water in Canyonlands

Water in Canyonlands

Making Waterfalls in Canyonlands

My son had so much fun watching the little waterfalls and trickles of water running from one puddle to the next. Once they dried out to the point that they weren’t flowing on their own, he was happy to help them along!

Lunck break on the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

Lunck break on the Slickrock Hiking Trail- Canyonlands National Park

For some reason, in my son’s mind, lunch is always one of the highlights of our ‘adventures’.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s worked up an appetite from hiking, or that we get to sit on the ground and eat it, or maybe because I’m not nagging him about sitting down and eating over his plate like I do at home, but almost every time we hike, within about the first 10 minutes my son is pointing out places that he says look like ‘a good spot for our lunch break’.

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

When we finally sat down for lunch the sun had been out long enough that except for the potholes, the ground was completely dry.  We found a good, flat place to sit on the slickrock and enjoyed our lunch while looking at the amazing view.  I think we were near ‘Viewpoint 2’ on the trail, and while we were eating, several other groups & couples came past and walked up to the edge to take pictures.

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Checking out a Pothole on the Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

We hiked the rest of the trail with frequent stops to check out what seemed like every, single pot hole we passed.  But I’m not complaining!  I was so happy that my son was so interested and excited about everything, and I know my husband was happy that he didn’t have to carry him on his shoulders for 2.4 miles!  Finally, when we were probably within about .2 miles from where the loop trail met back up with the trail that led back to the parking area, my son started to ask to be carried.  My husband told him that he’d carry him when we got to the next sign, and then we spent the next .2 miles trying to distract him and keep him hiking on his own.

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District - Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District – Canyonlands National Park

He made it, and I was so proud of him!  He hiked about 2 miles on his own at 4 years old!  And when I say ‘on his own’, I mean it- he climbed up and down the slickrock with very little help the entire day.  I put out my hand to help him many times, but usually he would tell me that he could do it by himself.  I know I whined a lot when I had to hike that far at even 10 years old, so I think he’s doing great!  Some days he does great and hikes a lot on his own, and some days he wants to be carried pretty much the whole time- we never know what we’re going to get!  But we happily take these days whenever we get them!

As we hiked, I was struck with the same feeling I get every single time we go down there- that we’re so lucky to live in such an amazing and beautiful place.  On the trail, we were only 1 hour from our house, and we had run into the group from Switzerland and several others from across the US. (Long Island, NY & Florida) Meeting people who have traveled so far to visit a place that we’re so lucky to have in our ‘backyard’ really reminds you to appreciate it and to get out and enjoy it as much as possible.

It had been a while since we had hiked in Canyonlands, maybe close to a year, and it turned out to be a ridiculously gorgeous day.  In the 7.5 years we’ve lived here, I honestly can’t remember a more beautiful day we’ve ever spent in Canyonlands.  It’s one of those days where the clouds and lighting are perfect the entire time, and you just know that all your pictures are going to be amazing, and that you can’t take an ounce of credit for it!

Hike length: 2.4 miles

Total Time: 2.5 – 3 hours

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 approx. 34 miles to the park entrance station.

**SCENIC ROUTE**

Head east on 200 S (the street north of the Visitor Center) and follow that road up the mountain as it turn into Forest Road 105/Co. Rd 101.  After about 25-30 minutes, this road ends where it intersects Hwy 211, from there turn left and continue on that road into the park.  (*The driving time is about 1 hr for either route.)

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 approx. 34 miles to the park entrance station.

Whichever way you choose to drive to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, you will pass a large petroglyph panel at Newspaper Rock, and many other rock art sites as you pass through Indian Creek.  For more information on petroglyphs in Indian Creek, visit my ‘Indian Creek Petroglyphs‘ blog entry.

Distance from Canyonlands Needles District Visitor 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 Canyonlands, Canyonlands National Park, Fall, Hiking, Monticello, National Parks, National Parks & Monuments, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swinging Bridge to Sand Island on the San Juan River

Floating the San Juan River with kids- Bluff, UT

Floating the San Juan River with kids- Bluff, UT

It’s been five long, dry years, but I’m ecstatic to report that a few weeks ago my family floated the San Juan River for the first time since before my son was born!  My son is now four years old, and all summer my husband and I were talking about wanting to do a day trip on the San Juan with him, but for one reason or another, it just never happened.  This summer flew by like no other, and I’m still a little bit in shock that we’re already a week into October!

One San Juan County event that we never miss is the Utah Navajo Fair Parade in Bluff in mid-September.  It’s an awesome parade with lots of decorated floats, music, and TONS of candy and other goodies for the kids.  The first year we went, my son ended up with several pieces of fruit, a pin wheel, some books, and quite a few other small toys.  Every year when we head down to Bluff for the fair, we always try to plan something else to do in the area to make a day out of it, and this year since the weather was nice we decided to float from the old swinging bridge to Sand Island.

I guess I should mention since it might be a little confusing to those not very familiar with the area.  We call the put-in, ‘Swinging Bridge’, which would normally indicate that there was a suspension bridge there, but there isn’t actually a bridge there anymore.  It was damaged in a series of floods about 10 years ago, and unfortunately was never repaired, and eventually taken down.  The ‘Swinging Bridge’ put-in is located on Hwy. 163 about 3-4 miles east of Bluff.

I’ll admit, it took a little convincing for my husband to get me to agree to do that section of river.  The last time we floated the Swinging Bridge to Sand Island was the summer we moved here, so it’s been over 7 years, and for some reason I thought I remembered not being very impressed with that stretch of the river.  I feel like I remember that there was an overturned car in the river, and some type of appliance- a fridge, washer… something like that.  But anyway, my husband finally talked me into it, and I’m really glad he did.  It was nothing like I remembered and it was absolutely beautiful!

Loading the boats at the old swinging bridge- San Juan River

Loading the boats at the old swinging bridge- San Juan River

We recruited some friends who live in Bluff to go with us, so we all took our stuff to the put-in, then our friend and I shuttled a vehicle to Sand Island while my husband inflated our kayak and watched the kids.  When we returned from the shuttle the kids had come up with a ‘zero gravity’ game as they called it, which involved holding on to a branch of a tree that had washed up on shore and bouncing like crazy!  We only caught the tail end of it when we got back- I think they were kind of over it by that point.  But I was glad they had found a way to get their energy out before it was time to sit in the boats for a few hours!

San Juan River with Kids

First time on the San Juan River

Right away I knew I was wrong about that stretch of river- it was beautiful!  When we started out the canyon was pretty wide and you couldn’t really see the walls, but soon the canyon wall on the left side closed in and we had beautiful views of the red-rock walls the rest of the day.

My son was beyond excited to be on the river!  Just recently we went on a jet boat on the Colorado with some friends, and that’s probably the smallest boat my son had ever been on at that time.  At times he could reach his hand out over the side of the boat and touch the spray, but practically sitting on the water in a small inflatable kayak is a whole different experience.  He loved that he could help paddle and that he could reach his hands and feet over the side and dip them in the water.

He loved getting to help paddle.  I know that most of the time he was probably blocking my husband from paddling more than he was actually ‘helping‘, but he was having fun and that’s what’s important!  Rather than trying to teach our son any kind of technical skills or techniques when we’re doing things outdoors (I mean, he’s only 4 for crying out loud!) we’re just trying to instill a love of being outside, and a curiosity for the world around him.  I think as long as he’s having fun on our ‘adventures’, hopefully he’ll just naturally grow up loving to be outside.  I hope it works- it’s looking good so far!

img_5047

Aaaarrrggghhh! Playing pirates on the San Juan River

I think one thing that really made our day trip on the river a lot more fun for our son was the fact that we went with a friend and he brought one of his sons with him.  The two boys spent pretty much the whole day playing pirates and yelling ‘Aarrrrgh!’ and plundering each others’ boats when we got in close enough proximity. After having my water bottle plundered during the first attack of the day, I quickly learned to hold on to all my stuff when we pulled the boats up next to each other!  (Luckily the other ‘pirate’s’ dad took pity on me and gave me back my water bottle!)

Cooling off on the San Juan River

Cooling off on the San Juan River

It couldn’t have been a nicer day on the river… not so hot that we were miserable, and not so cold that we didn’t want to get splashed- perfect!  My son spent quite a bit of the trip sitting on the edge of the kayak with his feet dangling in the water. (Check out my death-grip on my son’s life jacket! I’m holding on so tight, my knuckles are actually white!)

As always we brought lots and lots of snacks and drinks… there’s nothing that can ruin a day faster than not having enough food to keep your child’s blood sugar at a good level! (And let’s be honest- us adults need it too!)

I think we were about 2/3 of the way down the river by the time we decided to take a little break and get out of the boats to let the kids stretch their legs for a while.  We pulled up to shore and just happened to stop at an awesome mud hole!  My son loved it- he kept saying that he was ‘decorating’ himself with mud.  I almost wanted to just let him take off all his clothes and play in it- it definitely would have been less messy than getting it all over his clothes!  (On second thought, he might have ended up with mud in all his… crevices.  That probably wouldn’t have been very east to clean up either!)  But he seemed satisfied to just walk in it and rub a little on his arms and legs.  Some people pay big money for mud baths, and on the San Juan River they’re free!  So of course I had to walk in it and let it squish between my toes a little! 😉

Relaxing on the San Juan River- Bluff, UT

Relaxing on the San Juan River- Bluff, UT

After the mud hole stop, we pretty much just floated until we got to Sand Island.  One thing that was really cool was when we were floating past the town of Bluff, since the Utah Navajo Fair was going on, we could hear music from the Pow Wow faintly in the distance.

This trip was the perfect length for young kids- only about 7 miles.  I’m sure my son could have gone much farther if we’d taken more breaks and let him run around more, but just about a half mile or so from Sand Island, he started asking if we were almost done.  Luckily (for all of us) the answer was yes!

It was an awesome day on the river, and I’m happy to report that we didn’t come across any overturned cars or appliances in the water! (I’m starting to doubt my memory of our first trip!)

This short half-day trip has given me great hope that we will be able to do a multi-day/multi-night trip next summer.  My husband grew up taking yearly trips on the San Juan River with his family and their friends, and I’d love to be able to do the same with our son, so stay tuned!  I hope to be able to share a blog entry on an overnight trip in summer 2017!

How to obtain a permit for the San Juan River:

A permit is required year-round to float any section of the river between Montezuma Creek and Clay Hills. Information on obtaining permits is available HERE, and permits for the more popular segments of the river (Sand Island/Mexican Hat to Clay Hills) are issued through a pre-season lottery and advanced reservations.  However, to float the Montezuma Creek or Swinging Bridge to Sand Island segment, permits can be obtained by calling the San Juan River Office (435-587-1544) and are free of charge. (Information current as of 10-7-17)

**If you’d prefer to float the river with a guide, Wild Rivers Expeditions out of Bluff, run great trips.  I went with them on one of their Upper Canyon Daily trips about 5 years ago, and it was awesome- we had an awesome guide and I learned so much- I would definitely recommend them to anyone! (Read my blog entry about that trip HERE)

Distance from Bluff 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 Bluff, San Juan River, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

Playscape at the Canyon Country Discovery Center- Monticello, UT

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 , , , , , | 22 Comments