Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway | July 2021

As an early birthday celebration trip, we spent a weekend at Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway. It was phenomenal. We met up with our usual camping crew, ate a lot of steak, and had a great time.

Lake Mineral Wells is a 640 acre lake located in Mineral Wells. The town is aptly named for the mineral rich water. The most famous well was called the Crazy Well, which got its name from the myth that an older woman drank the water and her mental illness was cured. There could be some truth in that, as the water is high in lithium (which is used to treat various mood disorders). When you're in the area, it is a MUST to stop by Famous Mineral Water Company to taste the Crazy Water that helped shape the city.

Mineral Wells is currently in a revival stage. The Baker Hotel is in the process of being renovated, there are colorful murals splashed through the area, and there's quite a bit to do and see. I really loved the area and have been fantasizing about buying a house there...

Just outside of town, Lake Mineral Wells State Park has a LOT to offer. More than 100 campsites with a variety of amenities, swimming, hiking, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, stargazing, and more. You could never leave the park and you would stay entertained for days at a time. Our campsite was right on the water, but it didn't look great for swimming. We saw a number of other people with sites on the water that had kayaks - I highly recommend a site on the water if you've got kayaks. You can launch right from your site and it's very convenient. We also saw people fishing from their sites - if you want to do this, just check those photos on the reservation system to check out what the vegetation looks like. Some sites were clearer than others.

The designated swimming area was amazing, one of the best that I've seen. It's very beachy and the lake bottom was sandy and not mucky. They do a good job of separating the fishing from the swimming so you don't have to worry about getting hooked or stepping on lost tackle in the water. The fishing area is on the opposite side of the land from the swimming spot. The Park Store is conveniently located right between the two. Buy souvenirs, snacks, and affordable rental equipment all in one place. Some folks in our group rented a kayak and a SUP (stand-up paddle board, for anyone not familiar with the abbreviation) and the kids loved it. I tried SUPing for the first time and it was nowhere near as hard as I always imagined it would be! It was a great way to fill a couple of hours.

The camping loops all looked very nice. We stayed in the Plateau campground. Our site was very shady and, as I mentioned before, right on the water. It was fairly wooded, which offered some sense of privacy from the sites around us but you could still definitely see your neighbors. The ample amount of trees gave us plenty of spots to choose from to hang our hammock. Be forewarned if you camp here - the raccoons are ruthless. As soon as the sun goes down, put your food away or keep it right next to you if you're eating. Even with a big group of people awake and talking, the raccoons were trying to get to the trash bag that was in the galley of my teardrop. They gave zero fucks that we were right there.

One other must-see spot in the park is Penitentiary Hollow. Forboding name, really really cool spot. It is one of the few natural rock climbing spots in North Texas. There are just these huge rock faces that are all congregated around this one area. It reminded me of the Ledges trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Penitentiary Hollow can be accessed in a couple of ways. You can opt to pretty much drive right up to (you still have to hike a short way down to get to the bottom) or you can choose to access it on the Red Waterfront trail. We did both and I recommend both.

With so many different activities to choose from (we didn't even hit the Trailway at all!), Lake Mineral Wells State Park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. At only one hour(ish) away from the Dallas Forth Worth metroplex, it can be an easy day trip or a fun-filled weekend getaway!

Have you ever been to Lake Mineral Wells State Park? What is your favorite thing to do there?

Lake Mineral Wells | July 2021


Lake Whitney State Park | July 2021

At the beginning of July, Lily had a doctor's appointment in Temple so we decided to make a camping weekend out of it. We picked Lake Whitney State Park, as it was only a little over an hour away from Temple and would be a relatively easy commute.

Lake Whitney is only about an hour away from DFW and is a 23,500 acre lake fed by the Brazos River. There are over 100 campsites in numerous camping loops the state park. We were in the Roadrunner Loop, which isn't really a loop at all but more just a road with a culdesac at the end. Our site was nice enough and actually had a shade shelter (something I have found a lot of sites don't have!). The shelter came in handy multiple times. First, there was pretty much zero other shade at our site. I found myself staring longingly at a site a couple sites down that had a huge oak tree and a ton of shade. Secondly, we ended up having a storm blow through and the shade came in handy to keep us somewhat dry. At least until we had to take cover from shitloads of lightning in a vehicle.

Since it is the middle of summer in Texas, we spent most of our weekend swimming. The first afternoon, we swam in the designated swimming area at the end of the park. The water was warm and felt like bathwater, but it was better than cooking in the sun. The next day, we decided to stay near our campsite and walk down to the lake area to give that a go. It was far superior to the swimming area. The water was cooler and clearer and it was more convenient. We stuck with this spot for the rest of the trip.

In addition to swimming, we also did a short hike on the Two Bridges trail. It was easy and gave us a chance to see the wooded areas of the park instead of just staying on the water. Of course, it ended up raining on us during the hike but we made the best of it!

Once we were back at the car, the rain was really coming down. We didn't want to pack up camp in the rain so we decided to participate in the scavenger hunt that the park had going on that weekend. We had a list of things that we had to locate and take our picture with. We found what we needed and went to HQ to receive our prize - Tootsie Pops. Womp womp. They are the worst type of candy in existence! But Lily enjoyed it.

Overall, I'd say our time at Lake Whitney was enjoyable, but I don't think we will be back anytime soon! The staff was great and the park is pretty, but in my opinion there is just better swimming in Texas, specifically even in the same area. No offense, Lake Whitney!

Lake Whitney | July 2021


Great Smoky Mountains National Park | June 2021

Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of my favorites from our trip. Straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, this stunning park spans over 500,000 acres and is the most biodiverse park in the entire National Park system! This means that there is more life here (both in quantity and in variety) than any other national park. That is pretty crazy. More than 19,000 species have been found and there are an estimated 80,000 - 100,000 ADDITIONAL species that may also call the park home. Holy shit.

We only spent two nights in the park, but we saw a fair amount. Our first night was spent camping in Cades Cove. The following day, we went for a horseback ride through the area (which was nice because on Wednesdays there is no vehicle traffic allowed on the Cades Cove Loop! Also, I was so tempted to write 'on Wednesdays we wear pink' as I was typing that). We hiked and explored and moved to our second campground - Elkmont. Now, every single thing we did in the park was awesome, but there is one thing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that should be on everyone's bucket list....

Synchronous Fireflies

You guys, the fireflies. Oh my god, the fireflies.

Every summer at the end of May/early June, a species of firefly (Photinus carolinus for you nerdz) that synchronizes their flashes begin their mating season. Sounds good, right? Fireflies are always fun to see. Okay, well think about how cool it is to see random fireflies here and there on a summer evening and then multiply that by a gazillion.

The fireflies are found in the Elkmont Campground area. As dusk was settling in, we walked from our site to the trail where the most activity is seen. It's a long stretch of road/trail that leaves plenty of opportunity to space out and not be crowded with a bunch of other people. Most people brought camp chairs. We were dumb and did not so we just stood around while we waited. Then, as the dark really began to take over, a flash. Just one or two at first. Then more. And then more. And then before you know it, there are flashes of green everywhere lighting up together. Thousands of tiny lights, then as they go out, another group of thousands respond, almost as though they are conversing in some language that we can't understand but we know it's beautiful. My description can't even do it justice. I straight up shed a tear. It was really THE MOST magical thing I have ever seen in my entire life and I've seen a lot of cool stuff. I feel like the only thing that could maybe rival this would be seeing the Northern Lights.

These insects do this every year. It's just what they do. And we humans make a huge spectacle of it and I love it. I love that people have to sign up for a lottery to even try to get a parking pass to see it, that's how popular it is. And with good reason. I just can't say it enough..... it is incredible!

If you want to see this amazing natural event for yourself, you'll have to sign up on Recreation.gov for the lottery. Alternatively, you can book yourself a campsite in the campground. Forewarning, though - these sites fill up fast for the weeks right around the firefly event. We were lucky to get a night after lurking on the reservation system for a couple of weeks! Plan in advance and snatch a spot along the river for a most excellent experience!

Great Smoky Mountains | June 2021

Note: I have zero photographic or video evidence of how amazing the fireflies are because an iPhone is insufficient!


Caddo Lake State Park | June 2021

Our last, but absolutely not least, stop on our trip was Caddo Lake State Park in Karnack, Texas (home of Lady Bird Johnson!). Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state of Texas. That's crazy right? ALL the other lakes in Texas, ALL OF THEM, are man made. Blows my mind.

Caddo Lake has been on my must-see list for a long time because it just looks so magical and mystical in pictures. The Spanish moss hanging off of the bald cypress trees growing throughout this 26,000+ acre lake just looks like a dream.

We decided to end the trip with a splurge and stayed in one of the cabins. We stayed in Cabin 1 and it was really awesome. The CCC built the cabins, along with other structures in the park, in the 1930s. The cabin had a perfect front porch, complete with chairs and a bench. It's made of a combination of rock and log and is really beautiful. The inside is pretty plain - a small dining table, kitchen area, sofa, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. No linens or kitchenware are provided, which was fine because we had all that stuff with us anyways! Our only complaint was that there was no fire pit, but we ended up doing s'mores on the grill instead. Overall, I highly recommend these cabins!

Caddo Lake is pretty swampy and, at least in the state park, most people don't swim. We did some googling, though, and discovered that there was a local park right across the border in Louisiana that was more suitable for swimming. We made the short drive to Earl G. Williamson Park in Oil City, LA . It was still not great swimming, but it was enough to cool us off. It became pretty clear that the best way to see the lake would be on boat.

We quickly booked a sunset cruise with Big Cypress Tours, headed back to the cabin for a quick change of clothes, then headed to the boat. We toured the lake as the sun went down while our guide shared lots of information, history, and folklore about the area. It was just stunning. It really is a magical place.

The next day, we contacted a friend of a friend and were able to book a private boat tour with him for the entire morning. He brought us ALL over the lake, including to a cool little secret swimming spot where the kids got out and played. We covered a lot of ground (err.. water?) in the hours on the lake and it was all just incredible. It is just gorgeous. I can't say that enough!

If you're planning a visit to Caddo Lake, my best recommendation would be to get out on the water to really get the full experience. Do a boat tour, go kayaking or canoeing, whatever - you just don't get the full vibe from the shoreline. You HAVE to get out there into this magical water forest fairy-tale land.

Caddo Lake | June 2021


Cuyahoga Valley National Park | June 2021

A true hidden gem of the National Park Service (no really, I had never even heard of this park before planning this trip), Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in Peninsula, OH (outside of Akron). The park is scattered amongst the quaint suburbs of the area, making it a little difficult to navigate (or maybe that's just me). I relied heavily on the AllTrails app to navigate me to the trailheads!

When we arrived in the park, we had been in the car for a looong time. It was about a 7 hour drive from Mammoth Cave. We were desperate to stretch our legs before heading to our Air BNB (there is no camping in the park). 

Oak Hills Trail

We decided to hike the Oak Hills trail to regain blood flow in our legs. When we got to the trailhead, it was definitely raining but I didn't care at all because I was desperate for some fresh air and movement. Luckily, the canopy of the forest protected us from most of the rain. I gotta tell you..... hiking in a forest while it is raining is pretty magical. The sounds of the raindrops bouncing off the green leaves of all the plants. The smell of wet soil and humid air. The refreshing splashes of the cool raindrops. Pure bliss. Okay, back to reality.

The Oak Hills trail is only 1.5 miles and is a pretty easy hike. The trail was pretty flat and well maintained and there was little to no gain in elevation. It was perfect for what we were looking for. It took us through the forest, around a pond, and looped back around to the parking lot. There are restrooms at the trailhead but they are just pit toilets so be sure to fill water bottles ahead of time!

After the hike, we were damp and ready for hot showers and some clean laundry. Our Air BNB was the cutest place and was perfect for what we needed  - a washer and dryer, rural setting (with farm animals but because of the rain, we didn't play outside and see them), a super comfortable bed, air conditioning, and a TV. Plus, our hosts were great and were very accommodating! We got clean and warm, did two loads of laundry, made some burgers for dinner, and fell asleep almost as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

Brandywine Falls + Brandywine Gorge Trail

The next day, we started off by hitting Brandywine Falls, a 60 foot waterfall. It was really beautiful and there are multiple viewing areas. They have a boardwalk that you can walk down for a viewing area, a lower viewing area that's a bit more challenging to access, and you can view it from above on a paved road/trail. We pretty much viewed it from all areas and additionally hiked the 1.4 mile Brandywine Gorge trail. Because of all the recent rains, the trail was pretty muddy and slippery in a few spots, but we managed to survive without falling (which is rare for us).

Ledges Trail

After lunch, we headed towards the Ledges trail. This was my favorite part of the park. The trail is 2.2 miles, rated as moderate, and has lots of opportunities for climbing over and between rocks. Big rocks. There are some points at the beginning of the trail where it's basically two big rock faces right next to each other with a small area in between that you can walk through. Most of the rocks were covered in bright green moss and the forest was so damn fragrant. It was really beautiful. The trail also takes you past a cave, which has been closed in order to protect the bats that reside in it. You can still walk to the mouth of the cave and holy crap, the temperature change was insane. It dropped like 10 degrees around the cave.

As you keep adventuring around the rocks and forests, you eventually come to a nice overlook area. From there, the trail loops around and brings you back to the parking area. This is a great hike for kids that like to climb and explore!

Have you visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park before? What is your favorite thing to do or see there?

 

 

Cuyahoga Valley | June 2021


Shenandoah National Park | June 2021

Our first stop of the second half of the road trip was Shenandoah National Park, located in the Appalachians (including the Blue Ridge Mountains) in Luray, Virginia. This area is so forested that the name 'Blue Ridge' comes from the haze that is created by all the plants photosynthesizing! It was gorgeous, duh. I mean, views, lush forests, and mountains.... it's hard to go wrong.

We had two days in Shenandoah and camped in Big Meadows. There is absolutely no way to see the park in two days. We were really only able to explore the area around Big Meadows and didn't have enough time to get much farther than that. The park is pretty stretched out. We entered at the northern Front Royal entrance station and it was still a 90 minute drive to Big Meadows, which is about halfway in on Skyline Drive. Since we didn't have nearly enough time, we had to pick and choose what to do with the time that we did have. Here are three great things to do while spending time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

See Waterfalls

With Lily being in school now and us having to travel during summers, we are getting to see waterfalls that we typically would miss out on with a visit in late fall. There are numerous waterfalls in the Big Meadows area. The first one we hit was Dark Hollow Falls. This was a perfect hike for us to do in the evening after we arrived. The trailhead was extremely close to the campground and it was a short hike at only 1.4 miles round trip. The hike takes you 3/4 of a mile down to the falls and is an out and back trail. The trek was relatively easy on the way down, with some areas getting slippery towards the bottom. The hike back up was a little bit of a climb but not too bad. One thing to note is that no pets are allowed on this trail!

The next day, we hiked the Rose River Trail, which is a 4 mile loop that takes you to Rose River Falls. This trail can be connected with the Dark Hollow Falls trail if desired. This trail is classified as moderate. I would lean toward the difficult end of 'moderate'. The entire second half of the loop is uphill and it sucked. It may have been worse for us because apparently we went the opposite direction than what is suggested (did not realize this until later) and we went down the fire road first... but damn it was quite a hike!

These are only two of many trails that will lead you to some magical waterfalls in the park!

Hike up Stony Man

We started our second day in the park with a hike up the Stony Man trail. This mountain gets its name from the rock formations at its peak. They appear to make up the face of a bearded man. You can try to use your imagination to see this from the Stony Man overlook on Skyline Drive.

This trail is only 1.6 miles round trip and is easy peasy. It's low effort for big reward because when you get to the top, daaaamn the view is beautiful. You can the Shenandoah Valley for miles.

Drive the entirety of Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is the drive that goes from end to end through the heart of the park. It's 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and it's a gorgeous drive. There are a ton of overlooks along the road with pullout areas so you can safely hop out of your vehicle and take pictures of the dramatic scenery along the way. From top to bottom, the whole drive takes about three hours. There is gas in the park at Big Meadows so if you didn't top off before entering the park, you will have an opportunity to fuel up if needed about midway! We did the first half of the drive as we entered the park, then left through the southern portion so we got to see it all. There were wild turkey everywhere and cruising through the beautiful forests of the park was so, so lovely.

Shenandoah National Park has soooo much to offer and we only scratched the surface, but if you're really short on days in the park, you can't go wrong with these three itinerary items! Entry to Shenandoah National Park is $30 per vehicle, but I always recommend getting the America the Beautiful pass! It's $70 and can pay for itself in a single road trip. It covers your entrance fees for all National Parks and all other federal recreation sites!

Shenandoah | June 2021


Two Week Travels | To Pennsylvania & back

Hard to believe our big summer road trip has already come and gone. We're still riding that natural high that a fantastic trip gives you. We went up to Pennsylvania for an old friend's wedding and made the most of the trip by stopping along the way at some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen! Here was our route to Pennsylvania and back! More to come about the fabulous places we visited!

Pennsylvania itinerary


Tips & Tricks | Beating the Summer Heat

Ugh, I love Texas but I seriously hate the heat. Every summer, I ask myself why I subject myself to this weather. Then the sun sets, leaving a painting of oranges, pinks, yellows, and blues in the sky and I am reminded why.

We still love to get outside in the summers, despite the brutal heat. We just change our activities and routine a bit. We spend more time in the water and less time on the trails. When we do hike, we start EARLY. There is nothing worse than being on the trail when its 100 degrees outside. No thank you. The heat is no joke and people die every year due to poor planning, not knowing their own limits, and not knowing NATURE'S limits. Don't be one of those people! Here are some of the things that we do to stay safe and keep cool in the summers!

Swimming

I mean, obviously swimming is the first thing on this list. Lucky for us, Texas is full of great places to take a dip to get some relief from the summer heat. Here are some of our favorites:

These places get busy in the summer, understandably so, so be sure to make reservations. I also recommend visiting during the week instead of weekends if possible!

Hike Early

If you've ever made the mistake of hiking on a summer afternoon (cough - ME - cough), you know how miserable it can be. Chugging down water to no avail as your thirst cannot be quenched, hot skin, pounding head. It's not fun. Don't be stupid like me and get yo ass out of bed and on the trail early in the day! Not only will you avoid the horrible Texas heat, but it's a great way to start the day and will put you in a good mood, almost guaranteed!

Hiking in the evening is another option, but the residual heat of the day is generally still radiating off the ground so it's not quite as cool as the mornings.

Hippie Air Conditioning

Googling 'hippie air conditioning' didn't give me any results so I wonder if this is a name we just made up back in the day... nevertheless, hippie air conditioning = a wet bandana around your neck. This has gotten me through many a music festival, beach sea turtle patrol, and long hike. Of course you can purchase the hi-tech cooling wraps, but why bother when a $0.50 bandana can achieve the same thing? If I'm hiking near a body of water, I will just dunk the bandana in as we pass by and replenish as needed with my water bottle if we don't pass by said body of water again. It really helps to cool you off and it feels amazing.

Another thing I do is dunking my cap in the water and plopping it on my head. I'm pretty sure the water dripping off of it makes me look like my fat ass is sweating horribly and on the verge of death, but that's okay because I feel nice and cool.

Wear Good Clothing

I'm guilty of wearing just plain old cotton tees when I go hiking, and that can be okay, but really in the summer it's preferable to wear something a little more breathable! You want something that is kind of loose fitting and light. Clothing made of technical material is a good choice, as it helps to wick moisture away from your body. Also, color can play a role in your temperature, too! Remember that black absorbs light and white reflects it, so lighter colored clothing helps to keep you cooler by reflecting those sun rays. In the heat, it's easy to assume that short sleeves are the way to go, but long sleeves are actually a better choice because they protect your skin from the harsh summer sun!

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is important on those hot summer days, especially when you're active and out on a hike. A good rule of thumb is to carry a liter of water per person per hour of hiking. Don't forget water for your pets, too! Hydration packs, like Camelbaks, are easy to carry and convenient and typically hold enough water for about three hours of hiking. We usually stick with our Nalgenes. When we bring the pups, we also carry collapsible bowls for easy drinking on the trail.

Know Your Limits

I cannot emphasize this enough. Knowing your limits is so important. Working for state parks, I hear about a lot of the search and rescues that happen around the Texas Hill Country in our parks, many of them completely avoidable. Be honest with yourself about what you are physically capable of in terms of weather, length, terrain, and level of difficulty. If you're a little out of shape and haven't been doing much exercise, don't try to go climb Enchanted Rock at 2PM in July. I mean, really, I'm not sure I'd even recommend that for someone in great shape.

There is no shame in opting for an easier route, a shorter trail, or modifying a hike to meet your own needs. Safety is the most important thing and you'll still feel great that you got outside. Plus, your local park rangers will thank you for being smart and safe while exploring the park!

 

Pedernales Falls State Park overlook

And of course, it's always nice to have a special treat when you reach that hard earned view at the end of the trail. For us, it's a cold Rambler - this is not sponsored by them or anything (but hey Rambler - hit me up!), they are just super refreshing, a Texas company, and they support Texas State Parks! Plus, even Lily loves them! Kid tested, Texas approved!


Old Tunnel State Park | May 2021

We spent a recent Friday evening at Old Tunnel State Park. The park is the smallest park in the state, at only 16 acres, and is located outside of Fredericksburg. It has a really cool mixture of history and nature - the tunnel is an old railroad tunnel, part of a track that went from Fredericksburg to San Antonio. The track was built when Fredericksburg lost the competition for the hub for the larger railway system that was being built through the Hill Country (Kerrville got it instead - rumor has it that the Kerrville folks got the Fredericksburg folks drunk the night before they were arguing their cases and they ultimately bombed it). The train transported livestock and passengers and apparently wasn't run very well, as the company went bankrupt twice. When World War II hit, the railroad was shut down and the metal was all salvaged for use. Once the trains were gone, the bats moved in. The state acquired the property in 1990 as a Wildlife Management Area and in 2012 it became a state park!

If you're planning on visiting Old Tunnel, here are a few tips to have the best experience you can!

Wait 'til August

The tunnel is just under 1,000 feet long and is home to about 3 million Mexican Free-tailed bats from the summer months into the early fall. Even though the emergences start in may, don't make the mistake that we did and WAIT! It's better to go in August/September for a couple of reasons. One - May is generally wetter than the later summer months. When there has been a good amount of rain, there are more bugs and the bats don't have to travel as far to eat so they emerge later. They emerged at about 8:50PM when we were there and it was damn hard to see them. Second - right now the mother bats have not had their pups. That happens in June-ish and it takes 6-8 weeks for the pups to be able to fly. Once they are able to, the number of bats emerging increases significantly, up to that high end of 3 million. We had about 1 million at the time of our visit (which is still a lot, but less than half of the peak!).

Book the Lower Viewing Area

There are two ways to see the emergence - the Upper and Lower viewing areas. I recommend the lower area if you're able to coordinate that (you do need reservations for both - tickets can't be purchased on site). You're closer to the bats as they emerge and can see them better (especially if they emerge when it's really starting to get dark). You can even smell them!

If you reserve the lower viewing area, you'll also have access to the trails prior to the bat program. Lily and I got there about an hour and a half before the educational program was slated to start and we walked the short trail. It takes you down in front of the tunnel and then through the forested canyon area. It's nice, shaded, and it's actually a pretty good trail considering the park is so small and only has a staff of one (their volunteers are AMAAAZING and do a lot of maintenance and upkeep).

Be Patient

As with all things in nature, it can't be scheduled. You generally will have a good idea of about when the bats will emerge based on the times from previous days, but don't be surprised if they make you wait longer or if they come out early. They've come out when it's still broad daylight, when it's pitch black, in smaller groups, and in one big mass. Make your plans around the estimated time that is posted on the park's Facebook, but be prepared to possibly be twiddling your thumbs for a while. The educational program is great for passing the time and you can ask all of your burning bat questions while you wait.

Come Hungry

If you're able to, I highly recommend grabbing dinner at Alamo Springs Cafe beforehand! They've got some of the best burgers in Texas. Unfortunately, they have limited hours right now due to lack of staff, but typically they are open through the evenings and are located right down the road from the park!

 

Old Tunnel | May 2021

Have you seen any of the bat emergences in Texas before? Which is your favorite?


Two Week Travels | Utah Big Five

With school letting out for summer in a couple of weeks, road trip season is approaching. Especially with COVID restrictions lessening little by little as more and more people get vaccinated, things are opening up and our options are widening. I think we are all ready to start getting back to some level or normalcy again.

If you're ready for a road trip but aren't sure where to go this summer, you can't go wrong with Utah. The whole state is like a big outdoor playground. We visited in October 2018 and hit the Utah Big Five + more in 11 days. Here was our route, which started and ended in Salt Lake City (we got our flights super cheap in and out of Austin-Bergstrom).

Utah Itinerary

*Page, AZ consisted of Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Antelope Canyon.