Hoover Dam

This was a fun, funny stop for us. We did have to wait out a delay of opening the dam at the nearby Lake Mead view point. After the brief delay we were on our way to check out this dam historical monument. While we opted out of the exhibits we did walk the dam and visit the gift shop.

A little Dam history. Hoover Dam was built during the depression. It took less than 5 years for thousands of workers to complete. The Winged Figures of the Republic, by artist Oskar J. W. Hansen, sit on the Nevada side of the dam and are part of the commemoration of the dams dedication by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The Dam bathrooms. This was the best mens bathroom my boys have ever been in according to them. As described by our middle son they had cool old style bathtub like urinals, boxy metal sinks, gold lining around the mirrors. The entire bathroom was black marbled granite. To get into the bathrooms they had to climb a flight of stairs, passing a window with a view looking out the leeward side of the dam. They felt like they were stepping back in time. I’m sure if you would like to know more you can google more information or plan your own visit!

For more information go to the Hoover Dam Website.

Thermopolis Wyoming

I think that Thermopolis is the not so secret, secret getaway awesome nature AND family fun experience just waiting for everyone in Wyoming. Hot Springs State Park is the main attraction here. One feature of the park is the Buffalo Trail Road. Park staff often feed the buffalo.

We didn’t manage to catch a feeding, but we did get to see some of the babies. It is important to remember that these are wild animals. Even if the calves are cute and the adults seem to be relaxing, do not approach buffalo. It is best to enjoy them from a distance or from your car.

Now that I told you a little about the nature in Thermopolis, I can tell you about Star Plunge. Star Plunge is not the only hot springs water park in Thermopolis, Hellie’s TeePee Pools is across the parking lot. Both of these pay for use water parks are located in the Hot Springs State park, but hey are not part of the State Park(you’ll have to pay to use). Here we are taking a dip at the Star Plunge Hot Springs Water Park. We have not been to Hellie’s.

You can take a free dip in the hot springs at the State Bath House. The Bath House is a free soaking facility with showers. In addition to these great activities there are mineral pools, hiking trails, interpretive trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, river access, amazing views and more. Check out the Hot Springs State Park website for more information.

An honorable mention has to go out to Taco Johns.. All of my boys love Taco John’s and were happy there was one in Thermopolis. They talk about going somewhere there is Taco John’s at least once a week.

Saguaro National Park, Tuscan District

This park is amazing! The Saguaro National Park in Tucson Arizona has two Districts: East(Rincon Mountain Dist.) and West(Tucson Dist.). For our trip we barely had time to visit the Tuscon District, but we really enjoyed what was available at the Visitor Center.

First thing we did was check out the sensory interactive exhibit that was on display outside the Red Hills Visitor Center entrance. Here we learned a little about the animals and plants that live in the Sonoran desert through sight, sounds and touch. We did not get to go inside the Visitor Center because it was closed except for emergencies. Outside we also found maps and other visual educational displays.

Both Visitor Centers have Cactus Gardens. The Cactus Gardens have interpretive trails. This is the “hike” that we were able to do while visiting the park. Along the walk there are signs identifying the plants, great views of the mountains and plenty of photo opportunities.

If you are planning a trip through Tucson, it is definitely doable to spend an hour or two here if that is all the time you have. If you have more time to enjoy the park you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities, hiking and Junior Ranger programming. Both the East and West Districts are just outside Tucson. Travel time between both districts is about 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic.

To find out more and plan your visit the Saguaro National Park website