Southern UT in Aug with kids

Old Feb 13th, 2014, 04:27 PM
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Southern UT in Aug with kids

We are thinking about a ten day trip in Southern Utah in mid August. We live in coastal SoCal near the ocean, so our summers are not hot most of the time. Real heat is kind of a novelty, in fact. But is it miserably hot? We could probably do the trip in spring break in some future year if August would just be a drag.

We plan to drive from home. We have two boys who will be 4 and 6.5. They are active little guys, not much into hiking for its own sake but love to DO things. We like hiking, so we're trying to think of a trip with destinations that will be fun for all of us. What would be the best destinations for kids this age? We need short hikes and some sense of novelty - not just "going to see a waterfall" but "going to go UNDER the waterfall."

One wrinkle - our younger son is a bit prone to motion sickness. We do OK if he doesn't eat too much and then drive, but we've had some nasty experiences. Are there any particular routes to avoid for motion sick kids?

I'm intrigued by two ideas in particular - a few days rafting on the San Juan, and the canyoneering company in Moab, Desert Highlights, that seems to do some awesome rappelling trips. Does anyone have any recommendation for companies for rafting for very young (4 yo) kids? Does anyone know if Desert Highlights would permit a four year old on its easy trips? Are there other stops that would be great for kids this age - I saw some recommendations for Little Wildhorse Canyon and Antelope Canyon. I think we'd want to get them into a least one slot canyon but not visit so many that they lose the novelty.

If we were to wind up as far east as Moab, are we just going to face a depressing slog back to LA or is there some cool way to break that return trip up? Or is that just too far to drive from LA and back in 10 days? This is not a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us as we aren't TOO far away, so trying to balance fun experience during the trip with reasonable amounts of driving. In theory we could fly to SLC, if that would make for a much better experience.

Thank you - I know this is pretty general but we're in the early phases of fleshing out this idea.
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Old Feb 13th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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I have done many trips with my kids to the south of my beloved state. I wouldn't go in August if you paid me a million dollars! Spring break is the time to go. But if all you have is August, then that is it!

The usual minimum age on raft trips is 5-8. But check out Sherry Griffith--they might take them younger. The San Juan will be a walking trip in August--water will be really low. And realize that when you sleep at night in the tent it will be hot, hot, hot. It does cool down here but you will still be uncomfortable at night in the heat. Canyoneering is not something I would do with a 4yo. If you want a scrambling adventure, then try the Fiery Furnace hike in Arches--but check the age on that as well.

Hiking, etc you bet! Little Wildhorse Canyon and Goblin Valley are AWESOME for kids. Arches is my favorite place for young kids. You could spend a whole day just exploring the arches near the Balanced Rock turnoff. Moab is a fun place to stay with so much to do. Zion is also nice for young kids--the Emerald Pools hikes are always a big hit. Stay at the Desert Pearl or Cable Mountain Lodge--lots of families stay there. If you go in August, you will desperately want to stay in places with pools (so don't stay in the parks themselves).

Bryce would actually be your best bet in August because the elevation is higher and it will be cooler. You can do the rim hikes with young hikers and still see plenty. Capitol Reef is also a bit higher in elevation. Hickman Bridge and Cohab Canyon trail are both quite doable with young kids. And Torrey is a fun place to stay.

If you click on my user name, you can see my trip reports for Zion, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Moab/Arches. Check out the park web sites at NPS.GOV--there are recommendations for things to do, hikes to take, etc. And you can always do the jr. ranger activities.

As for motion sickness--this is a bad area to visit for kids that get car sick. Lots of winding roads. My daughter uses the bands and does ok. You can try to stick to major highways but the roads in the park are loopy.
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Old Feb 13th, 2014, 06:07 PM
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I'm agree with pretty much everything Stanton Hyde says other than possibly the canyoneering. I think it is very safe. If your kids are afraid to go up a ladder or something like that, then I probably wouldn't do it. The rappelling is safe, but there are a lot of places that a fall from a ledge would be deadly. So, it depends on you and your kids. I'm not totally sure they take age 4 kids, but I know Desert Highlights take some younger kids. I've been with them and think they are totally outstanding. My only complaint about them is they don't exactly answer the phone or return calls promptly. I've been with Matt the owner on one occasion and a guide named Herb twice. Enjoyed every trip. It's probably the single best adventure I've ever done(better than rafting the Grand Canyon).


I know you say your kids aren't into hiking, but goodness this is so super cool that I think they would enjoy most of it here.

I think your kids would love Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse. Both totally awesome places for any kid(even a 50 year old kid).

There is a big red sand hill, just outside of Moab. I see kids rolling down it all the time. Stop and let them do that for an hour. It's kinda hard to miss.

You could easily hit Zion, Bryce, Escalante, Capitol Reef, Goblin Valley, Little WH, and Moab/Arches. Each of these is 1-2 hours apart, so not to much driving between an outstanding spot.

DO NOT even think about going in August. It will be more than miserable. I would vote for around the 1st of May.
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Old Feb 13th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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I think your guys would find hiking a bit in The Narrows interesting. I do think they are to young for Angels Landing.
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Old Feb 13th, 2014, 06:12 PM
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Sorry for the multi-posts. If you are wanting to go somewhere in August. How about Oregon/Washington. Perhaps take in The Redwoods, stay in a Treehouse near Oregon Caves, see Columbia River Gorge and get in a few of those waterfalls, Mount Rainier. Even Lassen might be good.

I think Yosemite is best early June.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 11:24 AM
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Thank you very much for the quick replies. Sounds like August is super hot. I have not been to the area myself since I was a teenager 20 years ago, and I recall it being very hot camping but not too hot to sleep at night. I rafted the Green and the San Juan in July, but I could see how August might get too low. Maybe better to wait for a different year when our kids school schedule lend themselves to a vacation at a different time (they are only off together in August this year). In future years we could do a March/April trip or even early June. May will be out due to school, unfortunately.

We were in Yosemite June/early July last year, talk about hot- it was quite a heat wave! But the kids loved it, especially the camping. We also went to Mammoth because my older one wanted to try fishing, which he loved. So Eastern Sierra is a possible destination as we do love it there, but maybe the PNW would be interesting for some variety, with Seattle as a part for my kids. Something with water for swimming and fishing would be cool. I'll post with a new question after we mull it over some more.
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