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  • Writer's pictureWanderlust Mike

Unforgettable Family Adventures in the Southwest United States

I took my nephew and niece on an adventure through the desert Southwest of Utah and Arizona in the United States! We flew in to Las Vegas, drove to Lyman and Moab in Utah, and to Flagstaff in Arizona, and flew out of Phoenix.

We began in Las Vegas, where we witnessed Cirque du Soleil's Beatles Love show, the most exciting Cirque show I've ever had the pleasure to witness! We also went on the High Roller ferris wheel at night, with spectacular views of the Las Vegas Strip. And even though I didn't have time to take the kids there, I can also recommend Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden at the Mirage, the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo, and Bellagio Gardens and fountains as great sources of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy!

high roller ferris wheel las vegas

The next day we began our trip to Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks. We drove to Lyman to explore Capitol Reef, where we enjoyed the town of Fruita with its schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, Fremont petroglyphs, and fresh Gifford Homestead pies. Then off to Moab to explore Arches and Canyonlands.

capitol reef national park

In Arches we hiked the Delicate Arch trail, and also explored the Devils Garden and Windows sections of the park. In Canyonlands we hiked to Mesa Arch, famous for its sunrise views, and also to Aztec Butte. While we were there we also river rafted with Adrift Adventures down the Colorado River and rode on horseback at Red Cliffs Lodge with our horses Tucker, Duke, and Buckwheat. We recommend eating at Fiesta Mexicana and The Broken Oar while you're in Moab. And the kids fell in love the the hamburgers and milkshakes at Milt's Stop & Eat!

delicate arch

mesa arch canyonlands national park

horseback riding moab

Continuing our adventure, we took highway 163 to Flagstaff, Arizona, which allowed us to witness Monument Valley, a Navajo tribal park which sits at elevation 5,564 feet and with sandstone buttes as tall as 1,500 feet. And you must try a delicious Navajo taco while you're there at The View Restaurant! We also visited Bearizona Wildlife Park, where we saw native black bears, fox, bison and otters, and took a trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

monument valley navajo tribal

grand canyon south rim view

We drove through the Red Rock Scenic Byway on highway 179 near Sedona, and even went for a hot air balloon ride with Red Rock Balloon Adventures, where we saw a fox, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and a coyote!

red rock balloon adventures hot air balloon ride

Our national parks and scenic areas are preserved for all to enjoy. Come get a taste of the old West and discover the four corners area for yourselves.

Hiking trails:

Delicate Arch trail

(Arches, 3 miles round trip, 480 ft. elevation gain, 2.5 hours)

The iconic Delicate Arch, symbol of the state of Utah, is the payoff on this relatively easy hike. Some of the cliffside ledges are a bit narrow, so it can be daunting if you're afraid of heights.

Mesa Arch

(Canyonlands, 0.5 miles, 30 minutes)

Sunrise is the best time for this short hike. People usually try to catch the sun rising through the "window" under the archway.

Aztec Butte

(Canyonlands, 2 miles, 225 ft. elevation gain, 1.5 hours)

Along with scenic vistas, there are some Aztec granary ruins tucked under a ledge.


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