Three years ago, my family set off on an epic adventure. With a son who was soon leaving home to enter boot camp, I was on a quest to plan a family road trip that would appeal to my entire family. We set off to explore portions of historic Route 66 on our way from Ohio to California. I’d imagined fun talks, great family photos and memories to last a lifetime.
We certainly made memories, but instead of wanting to remember those moments forever, we wanted to strike those moments from our memory. Such is family travel.
I learned some important lessons on that trip.
1) The days of taking long road trips as a family are over, but that doesn’t mean that my husband and I can’t road trip and have the kids fly out and meet us.
2) My grown kids have a lot of pent up energy and travel better if we have plenty of time to actively spend outdoors.
3) As long as the trip ends well, all is well with the world.
We’ve taken family trips since then and we’ve had a great time, as long as I remember those lessons I learned. Once again, I’m planning a family trip. I have a son returning from serving on an extended mission trip in Central America and another returning from deployment overseas. We need a trip full of adventure that will allow us to spend time exploring the outdoors by day, but still experience the comforts of home with comfortable lodging by night.
I recently heard of Heber Valley in Utah. I learned during our awful road trip out west that Utah is a beautiful state, one that I feel confident saying that all of my family members would enjoy visiting once more. Located near Park City and with Salt Lake City only 50 miles away, with over 200 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and snowmobiling, this would be a destination that could satisfy my husband and my desire to road trip, while allowing the kids to easily fly in and meet us. And best of all- this location is ideal for adventure all year long.
9 Not to Miss Adventures in Heber Valley
1. Take a Dip in the Crater at the Homestead Adventure Center
The Crater at the Homestead Adventure Center is exactly the type of attraction that my kids would love. They each love to swim and they enjoy impressing their friends with unique attractions that we find during out travels. The Crater certainly counts as unique. The only all natural geothermal pool in a crater and the only warm water scuba diving destination in the Continental United States, this attraction is sure to be a hit. While the young adults swim, snorkel or scuba dive, my husband and I could enjoy a self-guided tour to learn about the history, geology and archaeology of the crater before dipping our toes in the mineral water and enjoying a soak. While it would be fun to see the crater any time of the year, I bet the water would be particularly welcoming on a cold winter day.
2. Reel em in on a Fly Fishing Adventure
While this activity doesn’t appeal to my daughter and I, the menfolk in the house would certainly benefit from some time spent bonding in the outdoors and my husband has mentioned more than once that he’d like to learn to fly fish. The Provo River is said to be one of the best trout rivers in the Rockies, so where better to start? Provo River, estimated to have 45,000 fish per river mile, is a blue ribbon fishery known for its quality of fish, ease of access, and beautiful surroundings. Fish Heads Fly Shop offer guided trips on Provo and other area rivers as well. So while the men are arguing over who caught the biggest fish, my daughter and I could experience our own adventure at the spa.
3. See the Trail from the Saddle
Vacation is a great time to try something new and what better way to explore the scenic views of the way folks used to travel, in a saddle? Horseback riding, appealing to a wide age range, is an adventure the whole family can enjoy while providing a new perspective of the trails. During the winter months, you may prefer to enjoy the views from a sleigh seat rather than a saddle. Bundle up, sit back and enjoy a ride in an Amish built sleigh pulled by Clydesdale horses.
4. Take a Scenic Plane Ride in a WWII Era Plane
Several years ago, my family toured planes used in WWII when we were traveling. As history buffs, my husband and boys’ were fascinated by the stories they were told on our brief tour. I’ve always thought a ride on one of the planes would be a unique gift for my husband, something he’d enjoy and remember fondly. While plane rides may be cost prohibitive (pricing starts at $250) for the entire family, Utah Warbird Adventures offers scenic flights in a nostalgic T-6 WWII Trainer, the luxurious legend known as the Twin Beech, or the pitts unlimited aerobatic biplane.
And while he enjoys his scenic plane ride, the rest of the family can hang out at the Commemorative Air Force Utah Wing Museum which is home to a host of historic planes, mainly of the WWII era.
5. Test Your Limits on the World’s Longest Zipline Ride over Water
Not for the faint of heart, the Screaming Falcon zipline course will test your limits. With 10 ziplines and seven suspension bridges totaling over two miles, treat yourself to amazing lake and mountain views in this fun get-your-blood-pumping adventure.
6. Admire the Cool Ice Castles in Midway
I admit I’m not a huge fan of the cold, but I could tough it out for a trip to one of the most amazing man-made structures in Utah- the ice castles. What started as one man’s quest to impress his daughter in his front yard has grown to draw crowds not only in Utah, but in several locations across the country. With tunnels, slot canyons and slides, this remarkable structure is another attraction that my kids will enjoy Snapchatting to their friends. Reviewers suggest that visitors arrive about an hour before sunset to watch the ice light up with lights, a suggestion that the photographer in me will certainly heed.
7. Hit the trails in Heber Valley on an ATV, snowmobile or Razor.
While my husband and I love the scenic views we encounter on road trips, sometimes you just need to get off the beaten path and into the backcountry to explore. This is an activity the entire family would enjoy and as long as we weren’t driving too fast and we can stop for photos every now and then, this is an activity even my wimpy self could appreciate. You’ll find several companies on the Heber Valley website that offer rentals.
8. Slope Time is a Good Time
My kids didn’t grow up on skis, but in the past few of years, they’ve become skilled skiers and snowboarders who are no longer content to spend time on our bunny slopes here in the Midwest. Now they’re looking for mountains to tackle and runs to challenge themselves which is why a trip west is on our radar. We’d be amiss to visit Utah in the winter season and NOT spend time on or near the slopes. And while the kids are hanging out on the slopes, us old folks…a hem…according to our kids anyway…will be hitting the slopes another way.
Not a fan of skiing, tubing is much more my speed. While the kids are on the slopes, my husband and I can enjoy the wind on our face as we careen down the hill hanging on to our tube. Tubing is always good for a few laughs so I’m sure our kids would hang out with us a bit before we all head to a lodge to warm our fingers and toes by a fire as we sip hot chocolate.
If it’s adventure you’re looking for, it’s adventure you’ll find in Heber Valley. Heber Valley is a perfect getaway any time of the year for family and adventure travelers. With hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, water skiing, snow skiing, Nordic skiing, ATV-ing, horseback riding and so much more, you’ll find much to do in this northern Utah.
Learn more about Heber Valley, the golf courses, wonderful state parks and many adventures at the Heber Valley website.
Have you visited Heber Valley, or plan to? What attractions or adventures would you most like to visit or try?
This post is brought to you by Heber Valley. Photos provided by Heber Valley.
© 2016, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.