I’m happy to say that we survived our first road trip with a toddler! It wasn’t always easy, but this trip was the BEST trip I’ve ever taken.
Benny and I got up at 3:30am on Monday, loaded the car, strapped Amelia into her car seat, and were on the road by 4:20am. Many people were confused as to why we were leaving so early, but we decided that we wanted Amelia to sleep as long as possible on the road. It actually worked out, because we didn’t need to make our first stop until 7:30am! We stopped in Primm, Nevada for breakfast at one of our all-time favorites, Denny’s. Can you sense the sarcasm?
Amelia was awake for most of the next leg, so this was where our basket of fun came in. Before we left I did a lot of research on how to make the car ride fun for a toddler. So, I loaded up a basket full of little toys and stickers that we got from the dollar section at target. We also brought a couple of Amelia’s favorite books, a little musical keyboard (that Amelia LOVED), a magnetic doodle board, and the thing that saved us many tears—an iPad. We bought this adorable iPad holder from Car Seat Cinema, and we preloaded the iPad with a season of Elmo’s world, and a few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
After another couple of hours, we stopped in St. George, Utah. A lot of moms told us to try and stop at parks or somewhere with plenty of space so Amelia could run around and get some energy out. We couldn’t find a park near where we were, so we ended up letting her run wild in Dick’s Sporting Goods. It did the trick. After, we grabbed lunch at Viva Chicken. Viva Chicken is a Peruvian rotisserie joint that offers all-natural, hormone free chicken. I got their Viva Chicken Salad, and Benny and Amelia each got their ¼ chicken with sweet potato fries and green beans. It was just what we needed, although Benny and Amelia could’ve totally shared.
From St. George we only had another two hours to go, and luckily, Amelia slept most of the way.
I have to say, I’ve done a lot of camping before, but I’ve never stayed anywhere quite like Ruby’s Inn & Campground. The campground was nicely spaced, the bathrooms were pristine, the amenities were great (our tent site had a picnic table, fresh water, and a fire pit), there was a swimming pool and hot tub, a general store, and a laundromat. It was also first-come-first-serve, so we were able to pick a tent site that was up on a little hill and overlooked a little field that was often filled with deer (which Amelia loved). There was also a little lake on the property that was very picturesque. I have zero complaints about the campground.
After we got our campsite all set up, we started cooking dinner. That first night we had carne asada tacos with Siete tortillas, lots of avocado, and Trader Joe's red salsa. I also made Benny and I Mexican Mules with silver tequila and Zevia's ginger beer mixer.
I’m not going to lie to you, the first night was rough for me. Amelia was a little out of sorts. She only wanted to be held, she only wanted me, and she was pretty fussy. There were a few moments where I thought, “Was this a big mistake?” Luckily she eventually fell asleep, and once I had a glass of wine I felt much more relaxed.
Benny on the other hand did not sleep that first night. We knew it was going to be cold at night (it was around 45 degrees), but we didn't realize just how cold Amelia would be. The first night we had set our 6-person tent up with the pack-n-play for Amelia, and two cots for Benny and I. It was so cold that we ended up pulling the cots out of our tent and laying down padding to sleep on instead. I would also bring Amelia into my sleeping bag each night in order for her to be warm enough. Just to paint you a picture we had put Amelia's normal pjs on her, then a fleece one piece, then we zipped her into an organic toddler sleep sack . Even with all of those layers, she was still cold. So if you're planning on camping when the nights are still chilly, be sure to pack lots and lots of layers for your toddler.
Another great thing about Ruby’s Campground, was that it was literally a 4 minute drive to the entrance of Bryce Canyon. So after breakfast on Tuesday, we headed into Bryce. I had seen photos of Bryce Canyon before, but when we actually saw the canyon I was blown away. It was beyond beautiful! I actually had tears in my eyes it was so breathtaking. We ended up hiking the Queens Garden trail, as well as the Navajo loop, which was about 4.5 miles put together (and the equivalent to 37 flights of stairs). It was a great hike. I would say it was mild to moderate, with Queens Garden being the milder portion.
That second night we had Benny’s famous “camping meal” for dinner:
- Ground turkey mixed with grapeseed oil, taco seasoning, sautéed onion, cilantro, and cheese
- Sautéed zucchini, fresh from a friend’s garden
- All topped with avocado and Trader Joe’s red salsa
After dinner we drove back into Bryce Canyon to check out Sunset Point. This little stop is a must for anyone visiting the park! Gorgeous views, and a great backdrop for photos.
Wednesday was all about Zion. Now, I’m going to start this by saying we did NOT do enough planning when it came to Zion. We had no idea how much time and effort it would take just to get to the Narrows. So, since I didn’t do any research, I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.
From Ruby’s Inn and Campground, Zion was about 2 hours away. After breakfast we hopped in our cars and headed out. Now, I know that I said Bryce was incredibly breathtaking, but it had nothing on Zion. I don’t even have words for the beauty we witnessed that day. Once we got into the park it took us about an hour to get to where we needed to park. Then, we needed to take a 20ish minute shuttle ride to the Narrows. After the shuttle, it was about a 20 minute walk to where you actually start hiking through the Narrows. It was definitely a trek to get to the Narrows, but it was so worth it. I wish we had planned it better so we could have been there all day.
From what I’ve researched, the Narrows goes back about 8 miles, so if you choose to hike the whole thing it would be about 16 miles total. Due to the time, we only hiked about one mile in. That may not seem like a lot, but hiking through water with a baby strapped to your back is tougher than it looks.
If you’re planning on going to Zion, I highly recommend going early. I believe the first shuttle heads into the park around 6:15a. Plan on being on it! I also recommend buying water shoes. Sure, you can wear your hiking boots in the water, but our water shoes from Target were so light and they also made it easier to grip the rocky and slippery surface.
That night when we got back from Zion, Benny threw two huge steaks on the grill and we paired it with jasmine rice, grilled asparagus, avocado, and red wine. Wednesday was our last night camping, so we stayed up a little later in order to soak up the last little bit of our trip with our friends. It was a great night.
Thursday morning, after breakfast, we said goodbye to our friends and headed to Salt Lake City.
I'll be posting a second blog post all about SLC in a few days!