Road Trippin’ Spring Break 2018-Adventuring in Moab
- Posted On
- Mar 10, 2018
- General Interest
State and National Parks
By Monique Beeley
Replace thoughts of the Disneyland craziness (which I have yet to try), with images of your kids in nature’s playground, reaching new heights on a climbing route and seeing that look of true determination on their face as they make it to the top. Picture the ear-to-ear smiles and laughs as the jet boat races up the mighty Colorado River, taking in face shots of water as the highly skilled driver tries diligently to soak everyone on the boat multiple times. Imagine flying high like a bird at 40 mph on a zip-line with 360-degree views of landscapes that resemble a classic breathtaking desert painting…or dropping 100 feet into a brilliantly colorful slot canyon that was formed by thousands of years rushing water and wind, that is now so silent and still, you can hear your own breath as you reach to the bottom.
Moab is truly an outdoor recreationalists Utopia...hiking, biking, river running, climbing, canyoneering, rockaneering, zip lining, kayaking, paddle boarding, jeeping, skydiving, ballooning…that’s a whole ‘lotta adventure “ing” options – and the BEST part of all is there are professional guides to safely lead, assist and instruct you and your family in whatever kind of “adventuring” you are up for. Whether you’re looking to leap out of a plane (not me), or give the ropes a try in the Ice Cream Parlor, Moab is the place for a spring break family “adventuring” trip.
Here is a round-up from our latest and greatest Moab family adventure.
Day 1: 8am - Cars locked and fully overloaded, we had just about 60 hours to make the magic happen. Our crew included 3-moms and 4-kids (8, 8, 11, 14) and I was stoked to share my love of Moab adventuring with this motley crew from Park City, knowing for a few of the crew, this would be a first for many of the adventures we had in store.
First stop was Adventure Park Moab, which is a ropes course. We quickly got geared up and watched our guide, Shannon, as she demonstrated the first challenge on the high ropes course: a 30- ft. climbing wall. Once we all mastered the wall, we landed on the perch in the middle of the obstacles. From there, we encouraged each other as we pushed ourselves a bit out of our personal comfort zones on the elements; stump walk, balance beam, swinging log, missing link and space loops… were some of our favorites. At the end of our 2-hour session we all felt both mentally and physically challenged and were consumed with a sense of pride for overcoming our fears and trying something new and maybe just a bit scary. We said our goodbyes and headed off for our next stop: Raven’s Rim Zip Line Adventure.
Our guided tour began with a crazy 4WD ride up the side of a cliff. (Luckily, we all had the “oh shit” handles close.) The older kids sat in the front and were hootin’ and hollerin’ as our guide, Sierra, expertly navigated the rocky, bumpy and steep trail. Once at the top, we unloaded and headed for the first zip. I was the only one of the group that had zipped before, and the kids were super excited to fly through the air dangling from a cable. One by one we all made it to the end of the first line, adrenaline flowing. The views…WOW…first looking to the east at majestic Mt Peale in the La Sal Mountains, towering above us at 12,721 feet in elevation. Just below us we could see Moab, which appeared lush and green in the middle of the red rock desert. To the west was the Portal of the Colorado River leading to the solitude of Canyonlands National Park. To the north were the vistas of Arches National Park, and our guide, Sierra, pointed out the Windows Section, which from our vantage point looked like tiny little dots in the distance. The day was picture-perfect, the sky brilliant blue, dotted with white puffy clouds dancing around. One by one we zigzagged through the course from line to line, building confidence with each one. Upon reaching the last one, we were all smiling and euphoric from this awesome experience.
Day 2: Wide-eyed and full of energy, our crew started the day at Moab Cliffs & Canyons for a half-day Rockaneering adventure, which combines elements of rock climbing, canyoneering and mountaineering. Our gear included a harness, helmet and ropes. We loaded our backpacks, making sure we had enough water, food and sunscreen for the trip, then headed to our destination, which was about 15 minutes from town. Our first element was rock climbing, and having practiced on the climbing wall the day before, the crew felt a bit more comfortable. Our guide, Heidi, gave us the low down on the climb, then expertly showed us the route as she climbed to the top and prepared the rope for our assent. Watching and photographing the kids climbing brought a big smile to my face. They were all present in the moment, and eager for their turn. Next, we scrambled our way through a tiny slot canyon, Heidi stopping the group along the way to show us some helpful canyoneering techniques. This was a true outdoor playground and the kids were in their element. Following that, we roped up again for a little bit more challenging of a climb. Watching Heidi demonstrate the route, I could feel a bit of trepidation from the group – especially the moms. This definitely challenged us all, but everyone did awesome and the kids (and moms) all cheered and hi-fived each other at the top. We took a break to fuel up, and I could tell that the group was filled with a sense of accomplishment.
The view from the top was again breathtaking, and we could see in the distance the location of the previous day’s zip line adventure. Our final challenge was a 40-ft rappel. Once again, a bit of trepidation filled the air as we listened and watched Heidi show us how to rappel. The first step is always the hardest (as it is in all challenges in life…) and trusting the gear, the guide and the ropes is key. Again, fully present in the moment, we all encouraged and cheered each other as we moved through this challenge. The drive back town was quiet; kids were exhausted and I reflected on the morning feeling content, knowing that we had just experienced one of the things that we all would remember for a lifetime. It truly was, one of my favorite moments with my daughter.
The afternoon left just enough time before our next adventure to chill by the pool and explore the uniquely cool shops on Main Street. One new place we visited, that the kids totally loved, was the Moab Garage. This delightful shop serves Cryocream, which is ice cream made with liquid nitrogen and made to order for you while you watch.
The Spin & Splash Jet Boat Tour with Canyonlands by Night & Day was the finale for the day. After a hot day of adventuring in the desert, this was the perfect way to cool off. And cool off we did! We boarded the boat and quickly…60 mph quick…headed up the Colorado River. Without notice, we suddenly stopped, creating a huge wave, and our driver spun the boat around 360 degrees causing the wave to engulf us within seconds. Ok, now we were officially cooled off from the heat of the desert sun. We continued this Spin & Splash pattern several times as we headed up river. The red rock walls of the river corridor were vibrantly glowing in late afternoon sun creating gorgeous reflections throughout the tour. The kids giggled uncontrollably each time we got soaked and cheered as, Rory, our driver, hit top speed. Wow, what a wet and wild 1-hour ride it was.
Day 3: The last day of our trip started early. We met our guide, Marie, from Moab Desert Adventures at 7 am. We again geared up with harnesses, helmets and ropes (there seems to be a theme here…). Today we would be rock climbing at the Ice Cream Parlor, and upon hearing the name of our location, of course one of the kids had to ask if there would actually be ice cream there…
Upon arrival, we harnessed up and watched as Marie showed us how to tie into the rope; this was a beginner course and we started with the basics. We all watched as Marie led the route placing gear along the way, and once at the top, she rappelled back down. The kids all took turns on the first route, then Marie set up a second route, then a third. Watching the kids go from doubt to mastery was amazing…at one moment my daughter looked as if she was going to cry and wanted to give up, but she pushed herself through the fear and made it to the top. Climbing not only challenges you physically, but mentally as well. It’s like a puzzle; finding the next hand holds and pairing those with available foot holds teaches problems solving and requires cognitive thinking. I have been climbing maybe a dozen times in my life and after watching my daughter flourish on this adventure, we will be incorporating more climbing into our outdoor recreation plan.
Our last stop before heading home was Moab Giants Dinosaur Park. Did you know that the Moab area is home to one of the largest concentrations of fossilized dinosaur remains and footprints in the World? If you have a dinosaur lover in the family, this is a must see. We explored the Dinosaur Trail, which is filled with 100 life-size dinosaurs. The kids played paleontologist in the Dig-It-Out-Sites, then visited the 5D Prehistoric Aquarium, which was their favorite.
The ride home was a quiet one, with the kids all exhausted from the nonstop, action-packed trip. My mind was buzzing and my heart smiled, as Moab slowly disappeared from my rearview mirror. This was a trip we would all remember, and my hope is that it will instill a life-long love of outdoor adventure in my daughter and a heart that is filled by exploring our amazing backyard.
Looking for more….
One adventure we did not have time for on this whirlwind trip was guided canyoneering, which is among my personal favorites, and Moab is home to some pretty awesome slot canyon adventures. Entrajo Canyon is a great family friendly beginner canyon that I did with Desert Highlights on a previous trip this past summer. Our trip was scheduled a couple days after a big rain storm making for an extra wet and muddy adventure. Of course, the kids on our tour found this to be super fun (what kid doesn’t like to play in the mud?) and a bonus: the pools were full of tadpoles! The half-day route involved wading through potholes, sliding through tight sections of the slot canyon and two rappels (15-ft & 80-ft.). Deserthighlights.com