Denver, CO > Telluride, CO > Cortez, CO > Kanab, UT > Moab, UT > Breckenridge, CO > Denver, CO
The inspiration for this trip was twofold: 1. We had American Airlines Companion Certificates that had to be used before the end of the year, and can only be used for domestic flights. And 2. The National Parks is currently running the Every Kid in a Park promotion where incoming, current & graduating 4th graders (and their families) get into National Parks for FREE.
Our original plan was to hit the Grand Canyon, flying into Denver and out of Phoenix, but it turns out if booking with Companion Certificates (full price for first ticket and then two companions can travel with you for $99/person) you have to fly in and out of the same airport, so we swapped out the Grand Canyon for Bryce Canyon and added in Moab, making for an 1800 mile loop back to Denver.
When traveling with Foster, we also like to have a bit more room to spread ourselves out and allow for some downtime between driving, so we booked all of our lodging with airbnb. Plus, being able to cook a few of your own meals and do laundry after climbing mountains/ATVing/sandboarding/getting caught in Utah monsoon season is HUGE. With the exception of one host canceling on us two weeks before the trip (which turned out to be a blessing in disguise) and one bumpy check-in in Telluride (the host forgot to provide us with the key code to get into the condo) all seven accommodations were great.
Viking Lodge – 1BR Condo Gold #304
Ski in/out, 2 blocks to Main St
THINGS TO DO & KNOW
Denver Kush Club
2615 Welton St. Denver, CO
when in Rome…
Walk around the Highlands neighborhood to the 16th St bridge into downtown.
1701 Wynkoop, Denver, CO 80202
Lovely light-filled station with gourmet eateries and bars, plenty of places to plug-in while you wait, great music on the sound system, and even some shuffleboard.
1416 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202
This is one of their flagship stores so it’s definitely an impressive space, including a rock climbing wall where you can test out gear.
Horseback riding at Gargot Farm
222 North County Road 23, Berthoud, CO 80513
On our last trip to Isla Mujeres Mexico, we became friends with our dive master, Ramon. Ramon then married Molly, an American horse trainer, and moved to Colorado to work with her at Gargot Farm, about an hour northwest of Denver. Molly is a fabulous instructor and was kind enough to give Foster his first riding lesson.
Bridal Veil Falls
It’s about a 1.5 mile hike up to the base of the falls, although you can drive it if you’d prefer, as long as you have a 4×4 vehicle.
Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings
Tip: The only way to actually get close to the dwellings is to be part of one of the guided ranger tours. We went to the visitor center to purchase tickets in the morning, thinking there would be openings for that day, but it was all booked up. They recommend booking in person, at least one full day in advance. We were still able to do a self-guided driving tour, which was lovely, but could only see the dwellings from afar.
Four Corners (drive through Monument Valley): Only worth it if you’re driving through (don’t go out of your way) but sort of fun for the novelty of being able to stand in four states at the same time, and a pee break. It’s $5 cash per person paid to the Navajo Nation.
Lower Antelope Canyon
Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Page, Az
This was probably the biggest disappointment of our trip, in that we didn’t actually get to see either of these canyons. They only allow you into the sites with a Navajo guide, and we hadn’t done our due diligence on the research to realize how far in advance they get booked up. We did end up getting slots for the Lower Canyon tour, by booking online the night before, but there wasn’t any availability for the Upper Canyon, for several weeks out. But the other issue, with both of these sites, is that if there is any rain at all within the area, they cancel the tours, due to concern of flash flooding (people have died). After waiting 2 hrs for a rain delay, our tour was cancelled. It then took us another hour to get our refund and get out of the parking lot. Tip: If you plan to go, book weeks or even months in advance, and book early in the day so that you have some wiggle room for possible weather delays. Also, if you’re coming from CO or any of the other surrounding states, know that Arizona is in its own timezone, if it’s summer, because they don’t practice Daylight Savings.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
We only had time to drive around the Sanctuary, which is gorgeous, but there are volunteer opportunities and they even have a few cabins so you can stay right on site. But apparently they get booked up very far in advance, so heads up on that. Definitely the coolest pet cemetery you’ll ever see.
ATV and sand boarding at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. You just head to the Visitor Center where they rent out ATVs (including a guide) and both sand boards & sand sleds by the hour.
Hiking Bryce Canyon
We did the Navajo Trail, which was crowded, for sure, but absolutely stunning. Definitely plan to arrive before 9am – parking lots fill up by 10am.
Mossy Cave: Still part of Bryce, but a few miles up the road on Highway 12, this is an easy hike with a small waterfall. It’s MUCH less crowded than the main park and makes for a nice add on after the Navajo Trail.
Rafting Fisher Towers. There are several tour companies offering up all sorts of wet & dry adventures. We went with Canyon Voyages and they were great. The rafting itself was actually more calm than we would have chosen in hindsight, but we weren’t sure what we were getting into with Foster, so we went with one of their “family friendly” options. And even without a ton of exciting rapids, it still made for a nice scenic day on the river, including lunch.
Hike to Delicate Arch in Arches Natl Park at sunset
Bring water. Lots and lots of water.
Glenwood Springs, CO
Soak in the natural hot springs at Iron Mountain
There are a few places to do this, including some locations that have water slides and are more kid/family oriented, but we had read reviews of this one as being a more chill vibe (while still having a family pool), which we dug.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Comida at The Source
3350 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 80216
very tasty taqueria in a super cool multipurpose industrial space
breakfast at Prosperoats
2550 15th St, Denver, CO 80211
oatmeal, quinoa & yogurt bowls
3316 Tejon St, Denver Co, 80211
awesome Old Fashioneds, crispy chicken sandwiches & great service
Little Man Ice Cream
2620 16th St, Denver, CO 80211
there can be a wait up to 45 minutes long, but we went just after lunch and had a 5 min wait
200 South Davis, Telluride, CO 81435
awesome Thai dinner with live music, great drinks (basil lime cucumber vodka, coconut mango)
breakfast at The Butcher & Baker
217 E. Colorado, Telluride, CO 81435
yummy breakfast options and good hiking fare available for take-out with a light cheerful ambiance
Overall note on drinking in Utah: Utah law sets a limit of 3.2 percent alcohol in beer sold at grocery and convenience stores and at establishments operating under a “beer only” type license, such as taverns, beer bars and some restaurants. Beer over 3.2 percent by weight is available in State Liquor Stores and Package Agencies and at clubs and restaurants licensed to sell liquor.
dinner at Sego
190 N 300 W, Kanab, UT 84741
excellent ahi tuna, avocado toast, pumpkin seed chipotle shrimp, buttered fig salad
dinner at Rocking V Cafe
97 West Center Street, Kanab, Utah 84741
awesome deep dish enchilada, huge pork chop, excellent bison steak – $48, not cheap but really good and great service
On way from Bryce to Moab (Rt. 70)
lunch at Costa Vida
950 West 1350 South, Richfield, UT 84701
huge delicious burrito portions, Chipotle-like vibe
Despite several restaurants with very visually appealing patios surrounded by cascading mist, we found the dinner options in Moab to be very mediocre.
But we did enjoy breakfast at Love Muffin
139 North Main St, Moab, Utah 84532
600 South Main Street, Breckenridge, CO 80424
buffalo chicken beer cheese soup is da bomb
breakfast at Columbine Cafe
109 S Main St, Breckenridge, CO 80424
large tasty portions, usually a bit of a wait
dinner at Mi Casa
600 south park avenue
traditional mexican fare, family friendly
breakfast at Daylight Donuts
305 N Main St, #C, Breckenridge, CO 80424
quirky spot with several breakfast meal options under $8, donuts are delish