I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful city of Boise Idaho. I knew nothing about Boise and was very impressed with how lovely it is. The city is quite flat which made getting around by bike extremely fun. The downtown is very clean, safe and easy to navigate. The neighbourhood we stayed in had great bike lanes along colourful tree lined streets.
Just a few blocks from our house were the Boise foothills with many hiking and biking trails. It was pretty easy biking with very flowy well maintained trails. I loved biking on these dry grassy cross country trails, it was a refreshing change from the trails I am used to in North Vancouver. We even passed 2 small snakes on the trail, one of them was standing up hissing at us. I was a bit scared at first so I didn’t get a photo but then realized it was just a cute little snake protecting itself.
We also visited the huge skateboard / parkour park, a great brewery and the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest called Freak Alley Gallery. I think we will be spending more time in Boise in the future because Christian’s sister is moving there with her family this winter. I look forward to discovering more.
Salt Lake City, Utah
We just passed through Salt Lake City for one night on our way from Boise to Moab. We should have stayed longer. October is a spectacular time to visit Salt Lake City, the mountains were bursting with colour. There are quite a few local ski hills that all have hikes and biking trails it was really difficult to choose. It even would have been great to spend some time just driving through the mountains to each ski hill.
We stayed at a very unique Airbnb that is by far Blake’s favourite. It was previously owned by the manager of the Utah Jazz basketball team. He built a basketball court and a room for ping pong. There were windows from the kitchen and mud room that overlooked the court. And it was private for just us. We all had a chance to play basketball and racquetball. The kids even did a little concert in the court at night, they performed a song they wrote in the car on our drive. Yes, we travel with instruments, this trip we have a ukulele, bass ukulele and guitar. It is worth the pain of having them in the car when the kids spend hours together creating music.
We did choose a trail to spend time at where Blake and Christian went for a bike ride and Jaida and I went for a hike.
Driving into Moab from Salt Lake City is where things really started getting exciting. The landscape slowly morphed from ski mountains bursting with autumn colours to smaller tall grass hills to brown flats to red rock canyons and occasional monoliths. And then the earth totally changed, like we moved to a scene on a movie set. We all stared out the window with our mouths open with awe. We’ve been to the badlands in both Canada and the US which is very amazing but this is so much bigger and rich with red brown canyons. We were sometimes on top of them and we were sometimes in between walls of layered burgandy earth contrasted with the blue sky. I don’t even know how to describe it but it was a drive I will always remember.
We spent 5 nights in Moab at a hotel. We were going to camp but the day before we left on this month long holiday we looked at the weather and saw there would be subzero temperatures. So we booked a hotel (there was not even 1 Airbnb available).
The town of Moab is quite small and full of restaurants. There is not much in the way of shopping, just a block of souvenir shops, a few t-shirt shops and 2 clothing stores. But there was no end to the outdoor adventures to be had! We stuck with hiking and biking but we could have done tours on ATV’s, dirt bikes, canyoneering, rafting and there is even a via ferrata.
Arches National Park
We were quite close to Arches National Park and ended up visiting 4 times. I LOVE hiking in this park. Our first hike as a family was a sunrise hike to the most famous spot in Moab – delicate arch. It is the symbol of Utah, the picture on their license plate and all the brochures. It was worth the hype. We chose to do the more difficult of the 2 hikes to view the arches which was actually quite easy. There is a bit of a hill but the terrain was clear and grippy. The other viewpoint hike is much shorter but quite far away while we were able to stand right next to the arch and touch it. I think it took us 45 minutes to walk each way. There were probably 20 other people there with us but I felt it was not crowded. Apparently at sunset it gets very crowded and parking fills up quickly.
Arches National Park is open 24 hours a day. That gave us the idea to go star gazing one night. Jaida and I were excited to learn that there was almost a full moon so we drove to the park at 9pm (hours after the sunset). There was a surprising amount of traffic coming and going at that time. We spent about an hour playing with the camera to try to get good shots and learning how to use the manual settings for night. We hoped it would get darker so we could see the stars but the moonlight was too bright!
A few nights later there was a super moon. So we all drove to the park for a moonlight hike. The trail I selected was not a good choice because it was between two monoliths and it descended into a canyon. There was not any moon light guiding us so we turned around and drove to another spot. This time we parked at the windows. It was a few km with amazing views of two arches. One had the moon in the background and the other with lit by the moon.
Finally, Jaida and I hiked the Devil’s Garden. This was a 13km hike which passes 9 different arches. The trail was not easy, ample hills and several spots where we had to walk single file on top of the spine of a future arch. Many people we met turned around because they were afraid of heights. The path was not always easy to find but if you knew how to follow the cairns it wasn’t too bad. We did get turned around a few times but either found our marker or we saw some other people and we were able to get back on track. It was amazing to see the diversity of people hiking this difficult trail, there were small kids and older folks and all ages in between. You can go at your own pace.
Not too far from Moab is another amazing place, Canyonlands National Park. We thought we would just go for the sunrise but we ended up loving it and spending more time there. First we stopped at the Mesa Arch along with about 70 other people. The sunrise was beautiful and although it was crowded, it was fun to be part of a group of excited awe inspired people.
Next we did the Murphy Point hike. We were a little camera happy on this hike noticing all the different plants along the way. I wanted to Google Lens each one so I could identify them but I decided I can enjoy them anonymously as well. The view point was rewarding, more photos, we chatted with very friendly runners and headed back to the car.
We decided to drive to the Grand View which we thought would just be a balcony with a view. We ended up hiking for another hour or so along the edge of the island in the sky. It was unbelievable how the ground dropped away to form these very unique canyons and cliffs. I don’t think we captured it in the photos but again we tried! I highly recommend visiting Canyonlands if you get a chance.
Biking was the other activity that took up our time in Moab. Christian and Blake went on some really epic rides. I rode with them our first day there, we checked out the famous slick rock bike path. We just did the short loop together but the next day Blake and Christian did the full loop. Several people on that ride were commenting on how impressed they were with Blake’s ability to climb the hills that had them walking and gasping for air.
Ian and Kainoa joined us in Moab and Ian showed us some super fun flowy trails at Bar M. The next day the four boys went on an epic ride called High Mesa. They loved it and were stoked with the trails in the area.