When you travel with your family, it’s nice to have access to a variety of activities that allow you to take advantage of all that a destination has to offer—without too much research or mid-trip decision-making. Here are our three favorite resorts to take our family—and then a fun idea to take things to the next level!
Crested Butte, CO
At first glance, Crested Butte is a sleepy mountain town, nestled in the southwestern corner of Colorado. If you keep looking, you’ll realize it’s one of the most amazing natural playgrounds in North America. “CB” has year-round offerings for all ages. In the winter months, skiing and snowboarding bring visitors from all over the world to this uniquely situated mountain. While other Colorado resorts have grown to lose some of their character, Crested Butte has maintained its charm, even while boasting some of the best terrain in the state. If you’ve got a freestyle skier among you, they may also be interested in the Butte’s world-renowned terrain parks. In the summer, enjoy fly fishing in the legendary Gunnison Valley, or explore Colorado’s ranching roots on horseback. And if you haven’t heard, you’ll find some of the best mountain biking in the world. If you’re looking for a cycling-centric trip, we’ve got one of those for you too.
Whistler, BC, Canada
One of the awesome things about ski resorts is that most of them run their lifts in the summer, and this one has access to some of the most amazing alpine running and hiking terrain I’ve ever seen. Ancient glaciers, alpine lakes, and wildflowers will treat your senses as you make your way through the wilderness. Whistler-Blackcomb boasts the world’s longest gondola (the Peak 2 Peak) connecting the two mountains. It can be intense for those afraid of heights, but offers unparalleled views and connects two of Canadas most epic ski resorts. If you’ve got little ones, they’ll marvel at the giant snow walls that stick around through early summer. And there’s biking for all levels of riders.
If you’re looking for the full-on Appalachian experience, Snowshoe, WV has you covered. Standup paddleboarding, biking, and golf in the summer give way to a great family ski resort in the winter months. Smaller and slightly more manageable than its Rocky Mountain counterparts, Snowshoe is a great place to teach your kids to ski. They offer great deals on lodging and family packages for ski lessons, mountain bike lessons, and more. Summer concerts, festivals, and races fill the events calendar and offer something for everyone.
Resorts are great because they offer lots of options for your family, all in one place. At Western Spirit, we create this resort-style convenience, and take you on more rustic adventures that span a bit more area. We intersperse activities off the bike as well, and we’ve seen families take the opportunity to bond in pretty special ways. If that sounds up your alley, give us a call today to start planning your off-resort mountain bike adventure. You can also check out our family trips here.
Tags: Family, Family Trip, Travel
As you get the kids ready for school and catch up on laundry from summer adventures, it’s a great time to start planning next summer’s activities! If your family is anything like mine, you have the best time when you’re active together. Vacations scheduled around physical activities can be challenging to plan and execute, but we’ve got some ideas to help you get your family outside next summer, or even before.
Time on the river is one of the best ways to unplug and enjoy the company of those around you. What you may not know is that there are a lot of different ways to enjoy the river—under the guidance of experienced adventurers. Whether your vessel of choice is a canoe, a kayak, or a raft, there is an outfitter that will make sure you have everything you need. Lots of them will join you for the journey and even take care of the cooking for you. Others have the option to rent all the gear you need and head out on your own. Try canoeing Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, kayaking the Colorado River, or rafting Westwater Canyon.
If you want to let the water toss you around a bit more and get in a little beach time, try a surfing trip for your family! Living in Utah we love rivers and lakes, but some ocean time with the family is always amazing. Surfing is physically and mentally challenging, and fun for all ages. Our friends at WildMex offer surf and stay trips in Sayulita and Punta Mita, Mexico. We had a blast with them in Sayulita last year.
Hiking is a great way to get the family together outdoors. You can set your own pace and keep things from getting too technical, or if you want a challenge, you can push it a little harder. If you’re up for rustic accommodations (tents) and minimal amenities (no showers!), multi-day backpacking trips are awesome. But if you’re just breaking into the art of family adventures, there are great places to visit, stay in town, and take day hikes. Of course we love Moab. In addition to hiking and admiring the breathtaking natural rock formations and canyons, you can dabble in world class biking and rock climbing. Telluride and Crested Butte, CO are two other fantastic natural playgrounds worth exploring.
Well, I have to admit, this is our favorite. And the reason we created Western Spirit Cycling Adventures. We want to help you and your family get out and enjoy the outdoors on two wheels. We have seen countless families make memories as they roll down picturesque descents and cheer each other on up challenging climbs. We have trips throughout the West, from Oregon to Idaho, through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. We offer a variety of trips for all skill levels, and if you don’t see one that looks perfect for your family, we can build a custom trip to fit your needs and occasion. Give us a call any time and we can start planning your adventure.
Whichever direction you choose, it’s never too early to set aside the time and start researching your trip. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and prepare for another school year to fly by!
Tags: Cycling, Hiking, River Trips
The Grand Canyon is inarguably one of the most overwhelmingly beautiful places in the United States. Its magnitude, color palate, wildlife, and history have fascinated countless visitors for hundreds of years.
The North Rim of the canyon is a higher elevation than the South Rim, and provides our favorite views. The Rainbow Trail is surely a North Rim highlight not to be missed. It is 18 miles long and was designed and flagged by Ranger John Kneeling, of the North Kaibab Ranger District. He spent three months flagging the route to make sure the trail never rose or fell by more than nine degrees. This makes for attainable climbs and fun descents. The Rainbow Rim is a beautiful ride that’s doable for cyclists of varying levels of experience, and it’s one of my favorite parts of our Grand Canyon Mountain Bike Trip.
Arizona Trail Singletrack
The Arizona Trail runs along the east side of the canyon and provides dramatic views of its upper sedimentary rock layers. Millions of years of erosion have exposed these layers of Kaibab and Toroweap limestones, Coconino Sandstone, Hermit Shale, the Supai Group and Redwall limestone. The singletrack on the Arizona trail also winds through Ponderosa pine forests as it makes its way across the state, covering 800 miles of terrain.
Seeing the canyon from above is one thing, but it is also pretty awesome to see the geological masterpiece from the perspective of the water. You need a permit to get on the river, so it’s best to find a guided outfitter to lead your trip. Ceiba Adventures is one of our favorite crews in the canyon, running custom trips that include whatever your group needs. They’ve been taking groups into the canyon for 30 years, so they know the ins and outs of the adventure.
North Rim Lodge
Every time we visit, my wife Ashley sits quietly for as long as she can on the porch of the North Rim Lodge. Don’t get me wrong, she is a force on the singletrack—but after a long day of riding or hiking, the view from the Lodge can’t be beat. If you’ve never seen it, it might sound cliché, but the sunset over the canyon is absolutely amazing to behold.
Hike the Bright Angel Trail
If you’re anything like me, you’ll see the canyon and want to hike down into it. I’ll caution you to remember that what goes down must come back up. Canyon hiking is interesting this way! The Bright Angel Trail was one of the first trails down into the canyon and an awesome way to get down into it. Just bring plenty of water, and expect the way up to be much more challenging than the way down. There are great views all along the way, so you can turn around at any point and still have a great hike. The National Parks Service issues stern warnings not to attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day.
Visit Phantom Ranch
If you take the Bright Angel Trail all the way down to the bottom of the canyon, you’ll find the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch. If you want to hike from the rim to the river, you’ll want to camp at the bottom before hiking back out. Space at the ranch is very limited, and reservations are required. You’ll need to book about a year ahead of time. But it’s well worth it to sleep in a rustic cabin on the banks of the Colorado River, at the bottom of a geological masterpiece. Keep in mind that the hike out is not for the faint of heart!
The Grand Canyon deserves a spot on every bucket list, and these are just a few of my favorite ways to enjoy it. The National Parks Service and GrandCanyon.com are great resources for more information about the park. And of course, we’d love to take you there on a Western Spirit Adventure.
Tags: Grand Canyon, Hiking, River Trips
Whitewater rafting is a thrilling, fun, and unique way to get outside and connect with friends and loved ones. When we think of rafting, I think most of us picture big rapids and major adrenaline rushes. While there are plenty of ways to up-level your rafting experience, there are also plenty of opportunities for guided beginner rafting experiences. Whether you’re looking for an idea for a week-long family vacation, a shorter retreat for coworkers, or a reunion for old friends, rafting is a great safe and team-oriented way to bring your group together.
Where to Go
Rafting outfitters take trips all over the country. The Grand Canyon is probably the most popular rafting destination in the United States, but there are great rivers to run in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, West Virginia, Maine, North Carolina, and lots of other places in between.
When to Raft
Rafting season is generally in the summer. Rocky Mountain rafting outfits typically operate from about May to September, but conditions definitely vary based upon how much snow fell over the winter. Particularly snowy winters result in higher water levels in the rivers, meaning the water flows faster and can require varying skill levels to navigate.
How Do I Know How Difficult a Trip Will Be?
For your first handful of trips I definitely recommend choosing an experienced rafting outfitter. Our favorite Moab outfit is Canyon Voyages Adventure Co. These experienced guides can help you select the perfect trip for your group. Rapids are rated on a Roman numeral system, ranging from Class I to Class VI. Class I rapids are mellow and easy, with clear passages and small waves. Class VI rapids are turbulent waterfalls that even experienced rafters should stay away from. As you get a couple of trips under your belt, you’ll get a feel for what Class I—Class III rapids are like.
Guides provide all the instruction you need to get started. Once you’re in the boat, your whole group will work together to maneuver and steer the boat down the river. It’s a great way to practice clear communication and teamwork, and any reputable guiding company will take care of all the safety concerns. So decide where, when, and who, and then connect with an outfit in your area to start planning your adventure. Have fun! And if you plan to come to Moab, be sure to stop by our office and say hi!
Tags: Moab, Rafting, Vacation Ideas
It’s no secret that traveling with people can come with challenges. Leaving the comforts of home often brings out the best in people—and can also bring to light some less desirable traits. If you’ve taken trips with groups, you’ve probably learned lessons of your own, but here are some things we’ve learned over the years that might keep you from learning the hard way.
Choose Your Group Wisely
A trip really begins when the planning process starts. I find that trips focused around a particular activity can help to filter potential travel companions. At Western Spirit a focus on adventure, challenge, and being outdoors helps to bring together the perfect group for every trip. If you’re putting together your own group for one of our adventures, or a made-from-scratch adventure of your own, listen to your gut when extending invitations!
Communicate About Needs and Expectations
A pre-trip conversation, in person or via e-mail, can help to get everyone on the same page. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of variety in people’s self-care regimens, meal schedules, budgets, and physical shape. At Western Spirit, we clearly outline the itinerary for each of our trips, including sample menus, packing lists, and levels of physical challenge. We have particular trips that cater to multiple ability levels, including custom trips, and we let people know about the options available to them long before their bike tires hit the trail. So if you’re planning your own vacation, remember that there are no silly questions. Find out what the people in your crew are expecting and hoping for, and communicate clearly about the plan. Here are 10 of the most common questions we get about our trips.
Don’t Be Afraid to Do Your Own Thing
Resentment in a group of travelers usually comes from someone (or a few someones) ignoring their own needs in efforts to accommodate someone else. Know yourself and build in time to do the things you need. Make sure to eat when you need to, get enough sleep, and take time to yourself when you need it. Making these self-serving choices will keep you functioning at your best in the full group activities. If you join us for a Western Spirit adventure, your guides can help you to get just what you’re looking for out of your trip. But don’t forget to ask!
Have Plenty of Food
The number one way to make a group grouchy is to let them get too hungry! Every group seems to have a person or two who are particularly prone to getting “hangry” (hungry+angry). Whether that person is you or someone you’re traveling with, it can’t hurt to throw a Clif Bar or some extra trail mix in your luggage! At Western Spirit, we’ll be sure to keep you well-fed. We’ve been doing this group travel thing for a while.
When you start planning, you may realize that different people have varying skill sets or priorities for the trip. Capitalize on your group’s diversity by delegating responsibility. Make one person in charge of certain meals—whether it’s grocery shopping or dinner reservations. Choose someone else to organize transportation, group activities, and accommodations. If you’re traveling with Western Spirit, the good news is that we basically take care of everything. We plan the itinerary, and our world class guides make decisions during the trip, so you and your fellow travelers don’t have to worry about it.
So the short answer is: travel with us! But these tips are the ones we keep in mind for our adventures and we hope they might help you plan your own as well. Let us know what other lessons you’ve learned in your travels. And we hope to see you soon! Get in touch today.
Tags: Biking Trips, Groups, Traveling
Looking for something a little different to do with your family this summer? How about investing some time and energy into developing a skill that you can all enjoy together? Learning and having adventures together are guaranteed to make meaningful memories with your loved ones—and there are usually plenty of laughs along the way. Here are a few of our favorite activities that make for great family vacations, and some even include a pastime that you can enjoy together all year round!
It might be obvious, but this is our favorite activity. Intimidating to some, but loved by many, mountain biking is the perfect way to bring your family together and keep everyone happy and healthy for a lifetime! Kids and adults of all ages get a thrill out of cycling through deserts, canyons, forests, and mountains. Beginners and experienced cyclists can find a great summer adventure with Western Spirit, and if you’ve got a group of mixed abilities, we can accommodate that as well. Our family trips provide lots of additional activities along the way, including fishing, hiking, and swimming. A trip together can ignite or deepen your connection to mountain biking, which will continue to bring challenge and adventure to you and your family for years to come.
River trips are another great way to get your family together outside this summer. If you’ve got some experience on the water, but could use some help getting your gear and provisions together, check out an outfitter like Ceiba Adventures. They operate out of Flagstaff, AZ and can set you up with the whole shebang—everything you need to take your family through the Grand Canyon.
If you’re looking for a more intense and guided river trip, Canyon Voyages Adventure Co takes groups on awesome guided day trips. They’re based in Moab and they join us on our river kayak and mountain bike combo trip. From the Green River to the White Rim, this trip is the best way to see the canyons from every angle. This trip isn’t specifically designed for families with young kids so if you’re looking to get your little ones on the river, try one of Canyon Voyages’ day trips from Moab.
Rock Climbing and Mountaineering
Immerse yourself in natural history and geology, while using your mind and strength to defy gravity. Sounds like a great way to bring the family together, right? Everybody brings something different to their first rock climbing experiences. Asking for more than brute strength, families are often surprised at how naturally their kids take to scrambling up sandstone. For adults, with or without prior rock climbing experience, guided trips provide all the support, equipment, and education you need to have fun, rewarding, and safe climbing experiences. Moab Cliffs and Canyons has unique trips centered around “Rockaneering,” which combines their favorite aspects of rock climbing, canyoneering, and mountaineering into family friendly excursions.
So get outside this summer! Let nature be the backdrop for your photos and memories together. Contact our team with questions here.
Tags: Family, Mountain Biking, River Trips, Rock Climbing, Summer
Getting away with your family is a great way to make memories, celebrate different parts of your kids’ lives, and have new experiences together. But let’s not forget that getting the family away together can be a big job! Here are five trips where you’ll have a little support with logistics, making it a bit easier to travel with your family this summer.
Any list of family vacations in the United States would be incomplete without mention of the Grand Canyon. Even if you’ve seen a million photos, nothing can prepare you for the majesty and absolute magnitude of this natural masterpiece. Given its popularity, it’s important to make reservations early at any of the area’s hotels and attractions. There are a number of ways to experience the canyon including on foot, on horses, or in a raft. Our favorite is by bike. A guided mountain bike trip with Western Spirit Adventures is the perfect way to show your family the canyon, and have someone else take care of the logistics. Our Grand Canyon family adventure explores the South Rim of the canyon. The terrain is perfect for beginning cyclists, and we include some hiking, to show off the canyon from a different perspective.
Yellowstone National Park provides an unparalleled combination of attractions for kids and adults of all ages. Geysers, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, and forests provide a varied landscape that is home to hundreds of animal species. Tourism in the park has developed to include a wide variety of activities and educational opportunities. It’s also a beautiful place to just relax! Roads in the park provide ample opportunity to explore by car, and there are thousands of miles of trails for those who prefer to explore on foot or by bike. This is another of our favorite Western Spirit family trips. The Yellowstone and Gravelly Range trip begins just northwest of the park, and we explore the park on the last few days. Whether with us, or on your own, Yellowstone truly has something for everyone.
If your family is looking for an educational vacation, our nation’s capital is a great place to visit. D.C. is steeped in history, and can provide some great experiences to compliment what your kids might be learning in school. The cities innumerable museums provide opportunities to learn about history, art, science, and aerospace. And most of these attractions are very affordable. If your kids are middle-school-aged or older, this is a really navigable and interesting destination. Like many cities in recent years, D.C. has also implemented a bikeshare program, called Capital Bikeshare, which provides a fun and affordable alternative to the metro, or… driving!
If you’re interested in getting out of the city altogether, Redwood National Park is definitely a place to consider. It offers some of my favorite views in the whole country. Redwood trees are nothing short of awe-inspiring when viewed up close—especially for people who aren’t very tall! Hiking and biking are certainly the best way to learn about and appreciate the magnificent landscape, and it’s remarkably close to the coast as well, providing an amazing variety of terrain to explore. Western Spirit Adventure runs trips for families in Redwood National Park as well, and it’s certainly one of our classics.
San Diego, CA
And of course, there’s always the beach! Coastal towns have come to learn the benefits of catering to families, and San Diego is no exception. We love Coronado Beach for it’s great lifeguards, tame surf, and soft sand. It’s easy to play in the water with young kids, but there are enough attractions nearby to keep older kids entertained. The locals actually consider this peninsula to be very separate from San Diego, though it’s just over the bridge from the city. The San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Legoland are close by, if you’re looking for some time away from the beach, but my kids could stay in the warm Coronado water all day!
So, the biking is our favorite, of course, but there are lots of ways to get your family out and about this summer—and lots of ways to make it more manageable. If you’re considering a bike trip, give us a call and we can help you choose the one that’s best for your family!
Tags: Family, Summer, Vacation
In case you haven’t heard, this cycling thing is pretty good for you. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially, spending some good time spinning on two wheels is sure to improve your quality of life. Here’s how:
Getting outside is a surefire way to keep your system functioning optimally. Fresh air in your lungs and a little sun on your skin increases levels of vitamin D and invigorates your cardiovascular system.
This might be an obvious one, but cycling burns calories and regulates your energy and appetite. Cycling is especially great for weight management because cycling workouts tend to be longer than others, like running or weight lifting. Working out for a longer period of time at varied levels of intensity helps to keep your body in fat-burning mode for longer, including after your workout.
Stress reduction is a by-product of many of the other benefits on this list—and it’s an important thing to consider in our busy, technology-ridden lives. Any form of exercise is known to reduce stress by balancing brain chemistry and increasing physical well-being. Cycling in particular is a great stress buster because it is achievable and attainable for people of varying levels of fitness. Cycling provides significantly less physical impact to your body than other sports like running, making it a perfect activity to ease into.
Cycling is awesome because you can do it alone or with friends. If you need some time to yourself, head out for a quiet ride. Or, if you’re feeling like a more social interaction, plan a trip with friends, or just a morning ride to a favorite restaurant for brunch. Connecting with friends and family in this different context helps to deepen relationships and create meaningful bonds.
Cycling makes you strong! The leg workout might be most obvious, but cycling is actually a pretty comprehensive workout. If you pay attention (and want to improve) you can increase core strength, and even your upper body. It’s great cross training for other sports, like running, swimming, and skiing.
Sense of Accomplishment
There’s nothing like making it to the top of a hill on a bike to make you feel accomplished! The tasks in your life may be a little more complicated to tackle, so why not build a few hill climbs into your days, your weeks, your summer?
It’s no secret that exercise sends feel-good chemicals to your brain. Endorphins released by exercise improve mood, decrease stress, and increase our capacity for connection with others. Once again, these benefits last long after your ride is finished.
Stepping away from your desk, your phone, your family, and the laundry can all help you return to your tasks with a fresh mind and more balanced perspective. This will make you more effective in all areas of your life, and prevent the accumulation of stress over time. It’s simple, really. Just a little bike break goes a long way.
Just like crossword puzzles and adult coloring engage different parts of your brain, focusing your mind on physical coordination helps to keep it balanced and healthy as you age. Cycling keeps your brain connections firing on all cylinders.
In case you ever question your ability to grow and improve, to stick with a challenge, or to learn something new, you can always hop on your bike and track your progress. I would venture to say it’s impossible to commit to regular training and not see changes in your experience on and off your bike. These little rewards can keep us going through the challenges in life, and remind us of what we are capable of!
So plan your trip, start your training program, hop on your bike, and get ready to see the ripples through all aspects of your health.
Tags: Biking, Health, Health Benefits
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to step away from my regularly scheduled programming to get some perspective. My life is busy and filled with family, work, and all kinds of responsibilities. It can be a challenge to keep up, and even some of the things that I love can start to feel like burdens and obligations. There’s no better cure for the everyday doldrums than a vacation. And I think the best ones are on two wheels—on the dirt.
A Fun Challenge
Whether you bring friends with you or make new ones on the trip, there’s nothing better than cycling in a group. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, with the group energy helping people through challenging sections of terrain. Our guides are great coaches, and our guests self-select to be pretty awesome, so even if you come on your own you’re bound to thrive with the encouragement of the crew. If you bring friends or family along, you’ll feel an unparalleled sense of collective achievement. Not to mention the photo ops!
A Healthy Getaway
Some vacations send you home feeling overfed, hung over, or feeling like you’ve spent a lot of money. Not a mountain bike vacation! Pay one price so you don’t have to worry, bike every day to keep yourself stoked, and enjoy our delicious and well-balanced meals. After a few days or a week of cycling and healthy food, you’ll return home feeling rejuvenated, energized, and motivated to keep cycling.
A Way to See a New Place
Checking out a new vacation spot can be overwhelming and even stressful. FOMO (fear of missing out) can kick in and make you wonder if you saw the best sights, ate the best food, and experienced all that your destination had to offer. On Western Spirit Cycling Adventures, we take care of all of the details. Select your trip, choose your dates, and then we make the rest of the decisions, ensuring that you see and ride only the best!
So as you look forward to summer, get a mountain bike vacation on the books. It’ll keep things fresh, charge you up, and get you out into some gorgeous scenery. Call us any time for recommendations, custom trips, or any questions you might have. Or check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked. Then get training!
Tags: Mountain Bike Vacations, Mountain Biking, Vacation