Before I left for our Spring Break Trip, I very naively scheduled to write and publish a blog post this week. A blog post. Meaning ONE. Yeah, we shoved SO MUCH fun into our trip that instead of one gigantic, massive blog post, I’ve actually written three. So, this week will be all about our spring break trip to Nevada, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah!
Today’s post — Family Travel, Part 1: Vegas, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire State Park, Red Hollow Slot Canyon
Before we get into it, if you’d like to read my planning post, you can find it here: Planning a Family Trip to Arizona, Nevada and Utah
Okay, buckle up and let’s start!
Day 1: Fly to Vegas.
We decided to fly into Vegas this time (rather than Phoenix), since most of the places we wanted to visit were in the Northern Arizona/Southern Utah areas. Our airplane landed at 10pm on Tuesday night, so I really just wanted a hotel on the strip that was cheap and not too disgusting so we could get a good night’s sleep and hit the road in the morning.
I found that at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino – it literally cost us $74 for the night. And it was fine. Just fine. The room was clean – but in that “don’t look too close” kind of way. There was yuck in the corners of the bathroom and wallpaper was peeling. With that being said, it was $74. We saved more than that on plane fare by flying in a night earlier. So, I’ll call it a win.
Day 2: Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire State Park
As planned, we checked out of our hotel, picked up our rental car and hit the road. Our VRBO condo was in Kanab, UT, so we decided to take the scenic route and hit a few amazing spots on the way.
Lake Mead: We ended up purchasing an America the Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass ($80) when driving through to Lake Mead. This was super helpful, because we used the pass throughout our trip (and I think we will be able to use it at Assateague over the summer). Getting out of the car at Lake Mead felt like we were in another world. It was absolutely silent and there was nobody around for miles. I could have set up a hammock with a book and been quite happy there for hours.
Hoover Dam: We saw that the Hoover Dam was nearby-ish, so we decided to make a little detour to go and check it out. Totally not worth it. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people there and it was just overcrowded and horrible. We took in the views from the car, made a short stop at a park-and-ride pullover and then got the heck out of there.
Valley of Fire State Park: This stop was planned on our itinerary and a million times worth it! It cost $9 to enter and we first parked at the Visitors Center parking lot. The Visitor Center was closed, but we were able to refill our water bottles at the nearby pump and also do the short hike to the Balancing Rock.
Jack absolutely loved his first taste of climbing on all the rocks. After our short hike, we hopped back in the car and followed the road to the Fire Wave. There is a rocky parking lot by that hike with lots of cars. We also saw a bunch of people getting pulled over by the police, so make sure to pay attention to the speed limits! Once parked, we climbed up the rocks to overlook the canyon.
This must be one of those “Instagram spots” because OHMYGOD the ridiculousness of the people up top posing was too much. My husband and I could not stop laughing and I have a photo of him giving his best “Instagram model” pose, lifting his shirt and sticking out his tummy. I won’t share it here, but believe me when I say it’s hilarious.
Once we climbed back down from the popular area, we decided to do our own detour. Heading back towards the parking lot, we took a right and just hiked out a bit. It was so much more beautiful with basically nobody around. We hung out a bit, climbed on some rocks and enjoyed the scenery. This spot was the perfect place to view the canyon of red rock formations that are made from Aztec sandstone. When the sunlight hits, the formations look like they are on fire, giving the park its name: Valley of Fire.
Food Stops on Day 2:
Inside Scoop (Overton, NV): We were getting hungry on our way to Valley of Fire, so we stopped at Inside Scoop for sandwiches, fries and ice cream. I recommend the French Dip.
Mo’ Bettahs (St. George, UT): This may have been one of our favorite meals from our whole trip! We absolutely loved Mo’ Bettahs and stopped there on our way to Kanab. My favorite was the kalua pig and rice, Jack loved the shrimp tempura, and Travis’ favorite was the teriyaki chicken. We actually meant to stop here on our way back to Vegas too, but accidently passed the exit by a half hour before we realized it!
Day 3: Red Hollow Slot Canyon
On our first day waking up in Kanab, we decided to check out the Red Hollow Slot Canyon near Orderville. The trail takes you through a sandy wash through an absolutely beautiful red and white slot canyon. It’s a little off the beaten track, so we only saw a couple other families hiking around while we were there. There was still a little bit of ice and some melting icicles, but it wasn’t too difficult to climb over them into the canyon. Jack found his name carved there, so he insisted on taking a photo with it.
Food Stops on Day 3:
Sunny Creek Coffee (Kanab, UT): We actually stopped by this little food truck most mornings for breakfast, because it was so good. My daily order was the bacon, egg and cheese ‘basic’ on a croissant. YUM!
Havana Cubana (Kanab, UT): We loved this cute little Cuban restaurant in Kanab. Both Travis and I enjoyed the Cubano sandwich.
I’ll stop here for now, but be sure to come back to the blog tomorrow for Family Travel, Part 2: Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Kanab, Glen Canyon Dam, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon X