Our American Family Roadtrip During the COVID Pandemic
Grab your masks, hand sanitizer, face shields and gloves. It’s time to take your family’s show on the road! Ok, so it’s not exactly how your client envisioned spending their family vacation this year, but roadtrips have been a family favorite for as long as we can remember, and it may turn out to be just what they need.
In fact, my family and I recently returned from a 2-week roadtrip through the Western United States. While it wasn’t the European vacation we had hoped for this summer, we were able to disconnect from day-to-day and reconnect as a family. We were also floored by some of the amazing landscapes that we discovered in our own proverbial backyard.
Picking Our Locations
Like many others, this Spring found us trading our European vacation for months of quarantine. The Pandemic of COVID-19 became our new reality and left us longing for fresh air and open spaces! A desire to immerse ourselves in nature with a wide variety of outdoor activities quickly became the single greatest determining factor in creating our itinerary, after safety of course! We wanted to visit places we had never seen before, destinations that would be as safe as currently possible, while keeping our driving times down to less than 7 hours on any given day. Utilizing the CDC website for specifics regarding the pandemic- cases by county and mask mandates by state- allowed us to better understand our choices. In the end, we decided on Colorado for mountains and forests and Utah for national parks, with a brief stop in Arizona to break up the drive. We searched specifically for family-friendly lodging with on-site dining options and proximity to open spaces at each destination.
Our first stop was a 2-night stay at the magical red rock oasis of Sedona, Arizona. With its stunning scenery and artsy vibe, this unique desert town makes for a wonderful stop on any itinerary. Although Sedona is definitely worthy of a longer stay, we made the most of our time there by including a Pink Jeep tour. It’s a fun-filled way to learn about the area and visit the Red Rock State Park in a short 2-hour time span. Remember to book your client’s tour early in the morning when visiting in the summer months, as temperatures can soar into the 100s by late morning.
Amara Resort and Spa
The Amara Resort and Spa sits adjacent to Oak Creek with the majestic Red Rock State Park as a perfect backdrop. Their Creekside Spa Suite, with a king-sized bed and separate living area, was perfect for our family of five. Salt Rock, their onsite restaurant, serves up delicious margaritas and Mexican -inspired dishes in the hotel courtyard and poolside by their enticing infiniti-edge pool. Try the jalapeño-infused West Fork Margarita or the chipotle-spiced Sun Devil Margarita for something really unique!
Our next stop was the former mining town of Telluride, Colorado. Set amid the forested peaks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Telluride is an outdoorsman’s paradise. The area is well known for snow skiing and winter activities, yet many locals would agree that there is even more fun to be had in the summer, even though their summer festivals are canceled due to the pandemic. The free gondola that connects the town of Telluride to Mountain Village makes it easy to get around, and make sure you don’t miss the weekly farmers’ market in town on Friday mornings!
During our time in Telluride, we enjoyed scenic hikes, fly fishing, and stand up paddle boarding (SUP). We were active daily, and yet we left feeling that we had barely scratched the surface when it came to exploring the area.
The Madeline Hotel & Residences, An Auberge Resort
An elegant European-style property, The Madeline Hotel & Residences is nothing short of perfection for a family getaway. Their residences are equipped with everything one could want for a home away from home. We stayed in a 3-bedroom residence, complete with full kitchen, washer and dryer, steam shower in the master bath, and 2 large balconies. The children were spoiled with bunk beds and a Wii console in their bedroom, arts and crafts projects, and complimentary s’mores by the pool. They even had the opportunity to walk the hotel mascot Ajax, a sweet golden retriever!
After a week of mountain adventures, we were ready for some desert fun and a visit to our very first national park- Zion National Park. With its massive sandstone cliffs in various shades of cream, orange, and red, Zion has an awe-inspiring, other-worldly feel that is simply magical. We arrived with a laundry list of hikes and activities we wanted to do during our time there, but we found that we were just as content simply being there and taking in the impressive scenery.
Cable Mountain Lodge
Cable Mountain Lodge is the perfect place for a family visit to Zion. Its location is unrivaled, with convenient access to Zion Canyon Village, where your clients will find a footbridge that leads them directly into the park. The property has a selection of comfortable studios and spacious suites, outfitted with kitchens and dining areas. It backs up to the Virgin River, where our kids spent hours tubing and saw multiple deer come down for a drink of water.
We knew when we embarked on this journey that things would look quite different, but we were not sure what to expect. We were surprised to find that all of our hotels were completely booked and most were booking at 100% capacity. Housekeeping was not offered at some properties, although toiletries and towels were refilled upon requested. Most on-property restaurants were serving a limited menu, and some of the usual activities were not being offered. Most properties were understaffed, and we would see the same employees working long hours. However, they all seemed beyond grateful to be welcoming guests again.
Luckily, the hotels we chose were extremely cautious about following CDC guideline- wearing masks, having hand sanitizer available, and posting signage with clear safety instructions-which made us feel comfortable about our decision to travel again. Like with any family vacation, preparation and planning can make all the difference, especially during these unprecedented times.
This trip was our first family roadtrip in the United States. It was not the quintessential “Great American Roadtrip” we would have envisioned a year ago, but all things considered we are glad that we made the decision to venture out!