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Where to go for non ski trip to mountains for family reunion

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I do a family reunion trip every year with my siblings and their families. We went to Sonoma CA for about 7 years and this last September went to Hood River Oregon.Most everyone likes to hike or do other recreational activities. Obviously wine tasting has been a big part previously. We were discussing where to go next year. Usually, not in summer, but while the weather is still decent for hiking or other activities. We have thought about 1. Jackson WY 2. Lake Tahoe 3. southern Utah     Would appreciate any thoughts from those with experience in those places. Also, any thoughts about where to stay in each place (like northern vs southern Tahoe) appreciated. Also, access is an issue as people are coming in from various locations and we don't want to spend all our time getting there. Re southern utah, it seems access could be a problem. St. George's proximity to Las Vegas would make it easy, but is there enough cool stuff in St. George area to make worthwhile. This crew probably doesn't want to drive further than about 45 minutes to see and hike.     

post #2 of 21

The Tahoe area probably has the most variety- hiking, mountain biking, the lake, casinos, etc.  Fly into Reno

 

Jackson potentially gives you access to Yellow Stone, but it I am not sure how far a drive it is.  It is further North than your other two choices and likely gets a bit earlier winter, but I am not sure what non-summer dates you are talking about.

 

I have driven through St George, but never really stopped there.  Lower elevation, I believe unless you head out of town.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Also thought about Sedona Arizona.

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maui Steve View Post

Also thought about Sedona Arizona.

My parents like it there and it looks beautiful in pics...I`m guessing, but best time of year may be fall or spring in terms of mild weather (not too hot or cold).

post #5 of 21

St. George has one of the US's premiere Shakespeare festivals, but that's probably in summer. if you all like hiking, there is certainly plenty of that with Bryce Canyon and other national parks/monuments near by.

 

How about New Mexico? Great cultural opportunities plus fabulous hiking, fishing, spa-ing, etc. etc. Santa Fe has music, theater, dance and (if you're into it) a big scientific community that includes fabulous mind-bending lectures, not to mention Native culture. Did i mention hiking? and mountain biking and river rafting (although spring is best for that). And history. It is the oldest capital in the US, Los Alamos where the atomic bomb was developed. There's mountain hiking and desert hiking. all sorts of stuff. (my husband used to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce; can you tell?)

post #6 of 21

Interesting query and answers so far. I would emphatically recommend crossing St. George off your list unless you want to throw golf/spas into the mix. When I first moved to UT, I heard everybody talking about vacationing in St. George, so I went there ... and spent the whole trip driving forty-five minutes plus in the same direction I came. It's advertised as a gateway to Zion, but it's not all that close (Google Maps has it at about an hour from the park). The most famous mountain biking, like Goosebery Mesa, is also not all that close.

 

If you want to visit Zion and national parks, I would stay in Springdale. Do the drive once, then you're closer to the biggest attractions like Zion, Escalante, Bryce, etc. Springdale is smaller, more tourist oriented, prettier and right next to the park with a shuttle in and out. St. George has some nice hiking/biking/scenery of its own, but it struck me as a better place to live than travel (except maybe for golf and resorts) and all the best hiking and biking in the area are in and around Springdale. It would be silly to visit the area and not spend some time in Zion, and if you stay in St. George, you'll end up like me...driving back and forth all trip.

post #7 of 21

Sun Valley, Idaho. 

post #8 of 21

Midway Utah.  About 20 minutes East of Park City.  Hoemestead Resort with amazing indoor natural hot springs.  5 great golf courses, mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, rental quads, Wasatch State Park, Spas.  Only a few minutes to all the Park City stuff like shopping, dining, Olympic Training center, zip lines, mountain coasters, bob sled.  Great weather and views.  Other than that not much to do.

post #9 of 21

Somewhere in the PacNW?  Fly into Seattle or Portland.  Can reach Pacific Coast or mountains.  Visiting Mt. St. Helens is a unique experience.

post #10 of 21

I would do something like this.

 

http://www.idahorivers.com/

post #11 of 21

Another superb place with easy connections from LA Coeur d'Alene, ID.  Fly to Spokane and 45 minutes East on I-90.  All the recreation you can find inland from Golf to casinos to large amusement park.  The Coeur d'Alene is a top notch resort and lots of other less expensive options close by.  The lake was named one of the 10 most beautiful in the world by National Geographics Magazine about 12 years ago.

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions. Joe UT's insider knowledge re St. George has me crossing it off the list. I suspected that might be the case. We don't want to be driving too far each day from our base. Anybody done the hiking around Sedona? 

post #13 of 21

Well, Montana is gorgeous, but it depends on what exactly you are looking for in terms of activities.  

post #14 of 21

It is really simple for me.  Go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  It is an experience you will never forget!!!

 

Of course, there is nothing to do in YS/GTNP but to enjoy the incredible beauty of these most unique places in the world.  If you don't want to see exotic wildlife, incredible landscapes, and spend time in the outdoors, then pick someplace else.  But if you are into hiking, this will be a trip that you will not only never forget, but will return to many times.

 

My spouse and I have been going almost every fall to YS/GTNP for the past 12 years or so.  It is one of the best times to visit the area.  Not only is the weather generally good, but the elk are in rut and you will likely get the opportunity to hear their bugling.  If you go toward the end of September/beginning of October (YS's services close after the first week of October) the aspen are generally changing offering wonderful folliage scenes.  The crowds are gone.  My wife and I hike extensively in the parks.  In Yellowstone in over 500 miles of hiking we've probably encountered fewer than 100 people.  We've been there for 3-4 days and seen as few as 5 people on the trails in that entire time.  It is wonderful to experience the wilderness with a lack of crowds like that.

 

Of course, if you are spending lots of your time at the attractions (Old Faithful, the thermal areas, the grand canyon of the yellowstone, etc.) you will see lots more people, but it is still a far more enjoyable experience than in the midst of summer or the beginning of September.  You have lots of opportunities to see wildlife, including grizzly bears, black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, moose, and many varieties of birds.  By late september the Trumpeter swans have migrated out, but I've seen grey owls (very rare).

 

If it snows, even better!  YS/GTNP is spectacular in snow.  Just remember the adage "there is no bad weather, just bad clothing."  We've hiked in the snow.  The views are fantastic.

 

If you've not figured it out yet, we absolutely love YS/GTNP.  We generally split our trip between the two.  If possible, stay at Lake at the Lake Hotel, the oldest hotel in Yellowstone.  They've started closing the Lake hotel in mid-september, but the park service has been pressuring the concessionaire to keep it open, and they might relinquish.  Alternatively, stay at the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful -- it is a modern hotel and quite comfortable.

 

In GTNP, we stay at the Jenny Lake Lodge.  It is pretty expensive, but the price includes room and board (with the exception of lunch).  The food is to die for!  And they provide trail rides as well. 

 

Sure, you can go to Southern Utah (it's pretty) or Tahoe (as well), but it is unlikely to be as special as a trip to YS/GTNP.  If you want a better trip, then go in winter....

 

Mike

post #15 of 21
I think of Sedona as Southern Utah-lite. Pretty but not as spectacular as the national parks of Utah, and with way more creature comforts. Given that you guys don't seem to be looking for a national park type experience, it might work for you. The people that I know that love it tend to like to see nice scenery, but don't want to spend all that much time in it--they like the jeep tours, short walks, spas, shops, etc, of Sedona. If you really wanted to be outside--hike, camp, etc--I'd say no way; go to Zion/Bryce. But if you want something more like your trips to Hood River and Sonoma, it could be just the thing.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 

I really love southern utah, but it seems like the really cool places are a pretty good drive. I'm flying from Maui which already means a lot of traveling. One attraction of Sedona is US Airways has non-stops from maui to PHX. The family is definitely looking for a place with ample creature comforts. But, we also like some good hiking. I've seen some photos of people mt. biking in Sedona that made it seem like some pretty cool scenery. Not Zion or Bryce, but very pretty. Thanks for any suggestions or thoughts though. 

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maui Steve View Post

I really love southern utah, but it seems like the really cool places are a pretty good drive. I'm flying from Maui which already means a lot of traveling. One attraction of Sedona is US Airways has non-stops from maui to PHX. The family is definitely looking for a place with ample creature comforts. But, we also like some good hiking. I've seen some photos of people mt. biking in Sedona that made it seem like some pretty cool scenery. Not Zion or Bryce, but very pretty. Thanks for any suggestions or thoughts though. 

 

Never biked there, but many say that the MTB trails in sedona are as good or better than S. UT. 

post #18 of 21

probably depends on where the rest of the family is coming from. Maui to anywhere western USA or Canada is a short flight and there are lots of them. If the whole family has passports also consider Whistler. Rates are cheap in summer/fall, has any number of hotels, eateries or night time entertainment and every outdoor activity you can think of doing including trying the bobsled track.  Easy hiking (just did one yesterday easiest alpine hike I've ever done) the lift takes you up the first 5000 feet. Huge with mountain bikers and I hear the golf courses are also pretty good. No need of a car once your there so you make a big saving in time. I think the area is almost as popular in summer as winter. 

post #19 of 21
Whistler's a great idea--all the creature comforts and a variety of attractions but also great hiking nearby. Google for info about hiking Garibaldi Provincial Park. Check out Garibaldi Lake. Good stuff.
post #20 of 21

Just to reiterate, GTNP is 15 miles north of Jackson.  YNP is 50 miles beyond that...

 

I love Southern Utah, but it's no contest.

 

Mike

post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions.

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