Got a 4th Grader? Hit the National Parks this year for free!!!


The USA has some of the most beautiful natural areas in the world.  I am so grateful that many of these amazing places are protected and have made into National Parks.  Most of the National Parks are so stunning and beautiful that they are worth visiting with your family.  Well for the 2015-2016 school year, thanks to Open Outdoor for Kids, each Fourth Grader can get a free National Park Pass for the entire family.  Sign up for more information here.

We recently took a trip to Southern Utah with  Jim’s folks.  Jim’s Dad has what we call a “Geezer Pass” which is a lifetime pass for anyone over the age of 62. This pass only costs $10 – get more information here.  He was able to get us all in for free with this pass!  This was really helpful, for example we went to Arches for two days.  Each time we entered the park it would have been 25 dollars.   We also visited Bryce Canyon, another $25.  We then visited Zion for three days and entered the park at least 3 times.  By having the pass we easily saved $150.  So if you have a Fourth Grader, this might be a great year to see some of the most mind-blowing spots in the United States!

Fall or Spring in the Southern Utah desert has to be one of my favorite places on earth.  It’s like a natural playground with fun climbing rocks and hikes galore.  My mother-in-law commented that it was the most scenic trip they have ever taken and these guys travel all over.  We were there a week and it was too short.  I could have stayed a month because there is too much to see.  (Darn work!)  We tried to see it all, which was great, but if I had to do it over, I would choose one area and really explore.  We did a lot of driving , 2300 miles in 10 days. Whew!  It was worth it though.


Arches National Park


Our first stop was Moab, Utah and Arches National Park.  Moab is a cute, wild-western town with great restaurants and hotels.  We prefer to camp and there is plenty of that.  Arches has a campground we checked out, and it looked awesome, but I am sure you would have to book way in advance.  But there are plenty of out-of-the-way spots you can find with  great views.  Arches, as its name implies, has the most natural arches in one area than anywhere else in the world.  We loved Devils Garden and spent half a day exploring slot canyons and climbing up rocks.   Zephyr’s quote from our adventure in Arches, “This place is over the top, way more fun that the ipad.”

Our favorite restaurant in Moab was called The Peace Tree.  They had great margaritas! I had the best southwest style beet salad and it’s super kid friendly.  They brand their burger buns with a peace sign.  How cute!

We didn’t have time this trip, but Dead Horse Canyon was recommended to us many times.  It is a state park just outside of Moab.  Next time…….


DSCN0286DSCN0238Arches National Park


From Moab we drove I-70 to Zion with a quick side trip to Bryce Canyon .  Even the views from the interstate were amazing.  You drive right through Grand Gulch.   Bryce Canyon is worth checking out, its like nothing you have ever seen, but I was satisfied with just a day there.

DSCN0453Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park  is so incredible.  Although, everyone must think so.  It was crowded!!!  It is worth seeing and the hiking is over the top, but we shared it with masses of folks.  There is a cute town called Springdale just outside of the park.  It too, has hotels and good restaurants.  We stayed at a place called Zion Mountain Ranch which is just east of the park.  We loved it there.  You rent small cabins with great views and it was really peaceful after being in Zion’s crowds.  It is a buffalo ranch.  There are baby goats, horses, chickens running all over….They also had a fire pit they would light every night for s’mores.   There is a very good restaurant there as well but a bit on the spendy side.  We ate there one night and it was worth it.  The other nights we cooked outside our cabinwith our camp stove.  One nice thing about visiting Zion is that it a good hub to explore other areas.  Its less than two hours from Bryce Canyon, The Grand Canyon and Kolob Canyon.   Also, Zion is three hours from Las Vegas, which always has affordable flights.


DSCN0668DSCN0743DSCN0657Zion National Park

DSCN0744Springdale, Utah.  This brew pub was right outside the park and had great views and beer.  The perfect reward after a day of hiking.



We only scratched the surface of the amazing spots to visit.  Now its your turn to grab your National Parks pass and  have an adventure of a lifetime.

Please feel free to contact me if you want more details of where to go and what are fun kid hikes.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views.”

– Edward Abbey


Go Play Outside,



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