• Michele Duhigg

How my family and I enjoyed the beauty of this great nation despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Recently I had the pleasure of taking a two-week National Parks trip with my family. My husband and I and our three kids piled into our rv and headed north from our home in Phoenix, Arizona. Our first stop was Horseshoe Bend. If you’ve never bend, I highly recommend it! It’s a short ½ mile walk from the parking area to an amazing viewpoint, where you overlook a horseshoe-shaped curve in the Colorado River. Depending on the time of day or year, you might have to deal with some crowds, but we went during COVID so the crowds were pretty low.

Our next stop was Kanab, Utah. We stayed at a cute rv park called Kanab RV Corral. It was the perfect location to allow us to check out the sand caves, Corral Pink Sand Dunes and a local burger joint. We were fortunate enough that our rv hosts mentioned the lesser known sand caves as opposed to the commercialized Moqui Cave. It was a little difficult to scale the rock, but we finally realized it was easier to hike up the farther left you started. Once we got into the man-made caves we were amazed! The caves went back a couple hundred feet, there were sheer drop-offs and countless carvings in the walls. Be sure to check it out!

After Kanab, we ventured north into Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Both parks offered stunning rock formations, beautiful scenery and an abundance of hiking trails. Because we visited both parks in the same day, we did minimal hiking, but I highly recommend starting at Sunset Point in Bryce and hiking down around the rock spires.

Next we drove through Utah, stopping in Park City for their Alpine Coaster and into Wyoming, where we ultimately stayed at Teton Valley RV Resort right outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was a large, spacious park that featured a pool, hot tub, playground, restaurant, laundry facilities and full-service spa. Unfortunately, we were placed in one of the newer spaces that had not yet been landscaped, but the established spots in the park were surrounded by grass and large trees. It was a 40 minute drive to Jackson Hole ski resort or the town of Jackson through some pretty steep inclines and declines carved through the mountains, but we were there over the 4th of July holiday, so everything was sold out in town.

At Jackson Hole resort we took the gondola to the top of the mountain, enjoyed some hiking and an ice cold drink at The Deck. The views were stunning and offered miles and miles of sightlines across the valley. Wait until 5pm for a free gondola ride or pay about $30 per person. If you have time, venture north toward Yellowstone for a great chance of spotting wildlife such as wolves, bear, antelope and moose.

Jackson town square is a must-see while you’re in the area featuring its notable elk-antler arches at each corner of the park. There are tons of shops, restaurants and history to enjoy. The western vibe, horse-drawn stagecoach rides, and shootouts make you feel like you’re in the wild west. Ironically, it is also where we enjoyed some fantastic Mexican food. Being from Arizona, we know good Mexican food when we have it, so we were pleasantly surprised to find an authentic establishment that far north. If you get a chance, check out El Abuelito for their homemade tortillas, strong margaritas and delicious dishes. You won’t be disappointed!

After a couple days in Jackson, we made our way toward West Yellowstone and parked ourselves at the Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park. The grounds were green, there were large trees throughout and we backed right up to the national forest. The best part was we were only a few minutes’ drive to the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Now Yellowstone is huge – it spans 3,500 miles across Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, so there is so much to see. But if you only have a few days, here are my recommendations for the westside of the park: Midway Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, Gibbon Falls, and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. I’ve heard Yellowstone Lake is beautiful so be sure to check it out if you have time.

After a couple days in Yellowstone (not nearly enough time) we started heading back home. We visited Craters of the Moon National Monument, which looked very similar to Cinder Hills just north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Then we stayed in Wells, Nevada and checked out Angel Lake in the East Humboldt Mountain Range. It sits at 8,400 feet, just 12 miles from the city of Wells, but it feels like you’re in a completely different state. The lake is formed from snow-runoff and sits at the base of the mountains. It is stunning!

We traveled through Alamo, Nevada and then spent the night at Lake Mead in their RV Village, just outside Boulder City. The lake was gorgeous and we were able to drive right up to the shoreline at Boulder Beach. It was rocky, so be sure to wear water shoes or flip flops if you want to protect your feet. The weather was warm and sunny, so the cool water was refreshing. We plan to go back to further explore the 247 square mile lake.

Finally we found ourselves back home, both thankful for our own beds and space to socially distance ourselves, but sad for our adventure to come to an end. Regardless, it was an epic road trip and perfect summer getaway during this Coronavirus pandemic. If you’re looking for something you can plan with your family that is unlikely to be spoiled by shutdowns, I highly recommend taking to the road to enjoy the stunning scenery of this great nation!

Check out my photos from the trip here!

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