Turret Arch: Short Hike, Big Payoff

One thing I love about Arches National Park is there are several short yet spectacular hikes. The hike to Turret Arch is one of them. This hike doesn’t require much of your vacation time but still has that WOW factor you’ll remember long after the trip!Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park- 5 trips

You may actually be more familiar with Turret Arch’s neighbors – the North and South Windows, aka the Spectacles. And while the Windows might be the more well known kids on the block, don’t discount Turret Arch.

Windows Trail sign showing the trail to Turret Arch.
Windows Trail sign showing the trail to Turret Arch.

The trail to Turret Arch is a short spur off the Windows Loop Trail.  The whole loop trail is only a little over a mile with minimal elevation gain, so it is quite family friendly.  While Turret Arch is purported to be smaller than the Windows, it didn’t seem that way to me. Perhaps its the arch’s vertical shape that makes it seem so massive.Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park-18 Trips

The path to Turret Arch includes an easy set of stairs.  Once you reach the top, you can walk through the arch and view it from the other side.  This is a great place to just sit and enjoy the scenic view of rock formations and the La Sal Mountains.Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park-11 trip

Turret Arch is a castle-like rock formation which actually contains two significant openings. While walking through the large arch, you’ll notice a second smaller opening. The smaller more circular arch is adjacent to the large vertical one.Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park-9 trip

While Turret Arch might not be the most famous arch in Arches National Park, it is one of the one of the most dramatic.  Standing under this massive rock formation you can appreciate its scale while taking in outstanding views of this unique National Park.

5 Reasons to Get Out of Your Car and Hike Balanced Rock

One of Arches National Park’s most iconic formations is Balanced Rock.  Perched precariously atop a mudstone monolith is a 3600 ton perfectly balanced rock…or so it seems.  In reality, the rocks are attached.Balanced Rock Trailhead Sign

Balanced Rock can be seen from a distance when driving the park’s main road.  The parking lot also offers an outstanding view. So, it might be tempting to just pause, snap a photo, and skip the trail. Don’t.

Here are 5 reasons why it is worth your time to get out of the car and take the hike:

  1. The Trail is Short and Flat: There aren’t many excuses that hold water for not hiking this trail.  At only .33 mile with very minimal elevation gain, it is suitable for the whole family.  It doesn’t take much of your vacation time to enjoy this wonder.Balanced Rock Trail
  2. It’s All About Perspective: Many photos of Balanced Rock are from the same angle. Yet, it has a distinctive and unique shape. To appreciate this feature of Balanced Rock, you must walk around it on the trail. Balanced Rock
  3. Appreciate the Scale: Balanced Rock is big… really big!  It is proported to be the size of 3 school buses… although I suspect that this is an approximation.  Walking around this well-known balancing act helps you better appreciate its uniqueness. Balanced Rock Trail
  4. Stop and Smell the Roses: While there are no actual roses, there are plenty of plants to enjoy. And while I wouldn’t suggest getting close enough to a cactus to smell it, I do recommend stopping to observe the many creatures which call this small section of the park home.Tree on Balanced Rock Trailimage
  5. It Might Be Your Last Chance:  Not to be overly dramatic, but someday it will fall. Like all of the formations in Arches National Park, over time the forces of nature change the landscape. This means that Balanced Rock will eventually come crashing down.Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is just one of the many special things that makes Arches National Park a great place to visit.  The best way to enjoy this natural wonder is slow down and appreciate this spectacular sight!

Balanced Rock

Spring Break Family Fun in Moab

This year, we spent spring break in Moab, UT.  Moab is an awesome family vacation destination!  There is so much to see and do in this beautiful part of the country.  A week just isn’t long enough!  Unfortunately, we did have to narrow down the to-do list and will have to save some adventures for next visit!

Here are 5 highlights of our spring break in Moab:

  1. Arches National Park:  Arches is a no-brainer.  It is so close to Moab and very accessible. We enjoyed several hikes in the park, and of course, the scenic drive is a real treat!

    Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
    Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
  2. Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park:  Islands in the Sky is another no-brainer if you are in Moab.  It only takes about 40 minutes to get there and the views are breathtaking… think Grand Canyon breathtaking!

    Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park
    Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park
  3. The Needles in Canyonlands National Park:  This section of Canyonlands National Park is more remote, and it takes about 2 hours to get there from Moab.  It is worth the drive! This was our first visit to this section of the park, and we enjoyed several short hikes in the Needles.

    The Needles in Canyonlands National Park
    The Needles in Canyonlands National Park
  4. Rock Climbing:  In an area known for its amazing rock formations, what better way to enjoy the scenery than getting up close and personal!  On our guided adventure with Moab Cliffs and Canyons, Sean and Trace on KSL Today, adventure specialists with NBC affiliate in Utah, joined us and filmed a news segment on family fun in Moab.  It was a real treat!

    The Needles in Canyonlands National Park
    Rock Climbing at the Ice Cream Parlor Near Moab
  5. Potash Scenic Byway:  Potash Scenic Byway follows the Colorado river from Moab.  This 34 mile stretch of highway was a great way for us to unwind after a day of strenuous hiking! It ends at a potash mine and there is a great picnic area by the river.

    Colorado River at Potash
    Colorado River at Potash

We had a blast in Moab! With only a week, we didn’t even scratch the surface of all there is to do in this outdoor playground.  I guess that just means we’ll have to go back!

You CAN Tour Antelope Canyon!

Antelope Canyon is located near Page, Arizona and Lake Powell in the north central portion of the state.  This iconic canyon is a photographers dream with ribbons of sandstone curving in many directions and light streaming in magically from above.  I’d seen many eye-catching photos of this amazing canyon and knew I’d LOVE to see it in person.   Initially, I assumed that this hidden wonder was only accessible to those adventurers who are willing to don special climbing gear.

When planning our spring vacation to the Page, Arizona, I was thrilled to discover that I could actually tour the world’s most famous slot canyon without wearing a helmet or dangling from a rope!  Talk about excitement!

Taking pictures in Antelope Canyon.
I’m on cloud 9 here in Antelope Canyon!

Approximately 5 miles from Page, AZ, Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Tribal Lands.  Therefore, you are not allowed to go through the canyon on your own.  You must be accompanied by a licensed Navajo guide.

There are two sections of Antelope Canyon that you can tour:  Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Which did I choose?  Why, both of course!  Several Navajo tour companies offer the experience, so I used travel review sites to select companies for each tour. Most tour companies offer a general tour and a photography tour.  We selected the general tour – no tripods were allowed on this tour.  (The rules on the photography tour stated that family cannot participate along with the photographer.)

Upper Antelope Slot Canyon

Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are completely amazing and share many similarities.  However, there are distinct differences which might influence your choice if you only have time to see one.  In my next post, I’ll share our experiences touring both sections of the canyon.

5 Unique Spring Break Trip Ideas

Looking for somewhere different to go on spring break?  Consider someplace other than your typical beach or ski trip.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE both the beach and the mountains.  But, sometimes it is fun to experience something new.  Here are 5 ideas that are a bit outside the box but won’t break the bank.

  1. Zion National Park:  Zion is nothing short of breathtaking and there are so many family-friendly hikes which are perfect for taking it all in.  As a cherry on top, the town of Springdale is right outside the park entrance and has restaurants to please even the foodie in your family along with amazing views in every direction.  From a weather standpoint, spring is the perfect time of year to visit Zion!
    Sunset at Zion National Park
    Zion National Park at Sunset


  2. Chicago, IL:  While the windy city may still be a little chilly in spring, there are so many amazing museums in Chicago where you can stay warm and occupied.  You’ll have such a great time inside, you might not even miss that bike ride along Lake Michigan.  While Chicago can be an expensive city to visit, there are various options for passes offering admission into these museums, so your entertainment doesn’t have to break the bank.
    U Boat at the Museum of Science and Industry
    The Shedd Aquarium
    The Field Museum

    dinosaur at the Field Museum
    Sue the T Rex at the Field Museum
  3. Buffalo National River:  The Buffalo National River is located in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  The mild Arkansas weather means spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoor fun!  The Buffalo River is perfect for family floats, and you can explore beautiful hiking trails and caves in the area.  Local outfitters like Buffalo River Outfitters keep close watch on river conditions and can advise you on which section of the river is best for floating during the time of your visit.
    Buffalo National River
    Buffalo National River

    Hiking Trail overlooking the the Buffalo National River
    Buffalo National River Hiking Trail
  4. Savannah, Georgia: Savannah is a beautiful and historic town located near the coast and on the Savannah River.  The city’s architecture and history combine to make it a unique and scenic destination.  The river is lined with shops and restaurants and the city is full of inviting squares and parks.  While you’re there, don’t miss Fort Pulaski – a civil war era fort in remarkable condition.  savannah-trip-3-tripssavannah-trip-2-trips
    Fort Pulaski National Monument
    Fort Pulaski National Monument was struck with canon balls.


  5. Page, Arizona:  Page is a little town in Northern Arizona which makes a great base for exploring Lake Powell and the surrounding area.  Lake Powell is a huge man-made lake that stretches across the Utah/Arizona border.  Renting a boat is easy and exploring a canyon by lake is certainly unique. (Check out Lake Powell Houseboat Adventure: 10 Lessons Learned) Beyond the lake, there is so much to do in this area:  tour Antelope Canyon, check out Glen Canyon Dam, hike in the Grand Staircase, and gaze at the iconic Horseshoe Bend.
    View of Lake Powell
    Lake Powell
    Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona
    Lower Antelope Canyon
    Horseshoe Bend

    The Colorado River


Spring break is a great time to take a trip.  Many wonderful destinations have great weather this time of year, so get out there and try something new!