Salt Lake City, Utah and Craters of the Moon

When I initially started trip planning I had wanted to visit all of Utah’s beautiful parks before heading into the northern states. That is until I realized I had us scheduled to be in Utah during July when the temperatures are in the triple digits. Instead of visiting Bryce Canyon, Aches, Zion, and Canyonlands (to name only a few on my list) in the heat of July, we decided to make a quick stop in Salt Lake City to visit my cousin Allison, then plan to head back to Utah in the cooler spring of 2019. As soon as we arrived in SLC we headed off with Allison to explore downtown. We saw the Utah State Capitol and walked through the beautifully-landscaped Temple Square.

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We visited the free exhibits at the Clark Planetarium and ran around playing like a group of big kids. The planetarium had accessible parking and restrooms with wide aisles throughout.

The planetarium featured a lot of interesting shows but unfortunately we weren’t able to see any this visit. Even without seeing a show there was plenty to do and see. We also spent a lot of time browsing the cool stuff sold at the gift shop and snagged some freeze-dried astronaut ice cream sandwiches on our way out.

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While we’ve been loving life out on the road, it can be difficult to take care of business and chores when you don’t have a home base. We took advantage of city amenities during our visit and scheduled our truck for service at the Toyota dealership and took Gaius to the veterinarian for his heart-worm prevention treatment. I’m pretty sure this guy working the doggy daycare has the best job ever.

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Allison and I snuck away for a quick trip to Antelope Island State Park where we saw herds of grazing buffalo, beautiful antelope, and swarms of brine flies down by the Great Salt Lake. The beach with it’s salty scent, buzzing flies and still, shallow waters had an otherworldly kind of feel. A metal ramp leads partially down to the beach. Accessible parking and restrooms are available.

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We also visited Mrs. Cavanaugh’s, a chocolate factory right down the road from our RV park. For $1 visitors can tour the factory to learn a bit of the company’s history, see how the chocolates are made, and taste free samples. Mrs. Marie Cavanaugh started the company back in 1964 when a taste of her chocolate not only convinced the banker to approve her loan to open a candy shop, but also made him her first customer.

If you’ve been following my blog or instagram feed you know I love a good hot spring. Allison made reservations for us to visit Homestead Crater, a very unique geothermal spring that sits inside a 55′ tall limestone rock formation. The teal-blue, deep water stay between 90-96 degrees year round, making it the perfect temperature for a relaxing dip no matter the season. The pool is also popular among scuba divers who explore the waters below while soaking guests float wearing life vests at the surface. Visitors who come to soak pay $13 ($16 on weekends) for 40 minutes and must wear the provided life vests. Although there were many visitors who soaked with us, the pool was large enough to not feel crowded. I was hoping the pool would have felt a bit more natural with its ambiance. There were orange and white floating buoys, bright lights hanging over the water, and wire caging covering the skylight. Even still, it was a fun experience and we had a nice time.

On our way back to SLC we stopped in Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival and the 2002 Winter Olympics. Nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, the town offers lots of restaurants, bars, shopping, and when the weather is right, snow activities. I saw lots of accessible parking on the streets and in lots and garages.

Back in Salt Lake City we indulged in some edible cookie dough from the Dough Co. I tried s’mores, birthday cake, and mint chocolate. They were all amazing. When we first entered the shop I noticed a set of stairs with no ramp but then saw the mechanical lift.

We said our goodbyes and made our way to Idaho to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This place was awesome! Packed with volcanoes, caves, and lava rocks galore, this site was last active only a mere 2,000 years ago.

The park is relatively small with one main loop and can probably be explored in a full day. The park is also awesomely accessible. Most of the trails are paved and each trailhead has a sign with details about the accessibility of the trail, including length, width, surface, and grade. There were also details about any obstructions along the trail, such as steps, ruts, or large rocks. I would love to see this level of detail provided for trails at other parks. Accessible parking and restrooms are also available.

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We hiked most of the trails and obtained a cave permit to explore the wild caves and tunnels. Cave permits are issued for the protection of bats, which are dying from exposure to fungus that can be spread by visitors. Upon request, visitors are screened and provided a permit to enter and explore the caves, although there did not appear to be much regulation. I hope this means the bat population is thriving. Walking through the lava fields and up the giant inferno cone was cool but my favorite attraction was definitely the caves.

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Flashlights and sturdy shoes required! The entrance to most of the caves was just an opening in the ground. Bending and stooping is necessary for those over 3 feet tall. Below all that lava rock the temperature of the caves was divine and a provided a great cool refuge from the heat. One cave was so cold there was a slick layer of ice on the ground.

We had so much fun exploring craters of the Moon. I would highly recommend a visit and I’m really glad we made the short detour west. Next stop, the Grand Tetons!

Thanks for reading!

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