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Two Fun Day Trips With Kids

April 30th, 2012 | Written by | Fun things to do, Town of Parker

I was talking to some friends over the weekend while at a Parker Hawks Baseball game discussing fun things to do with our kids. We are always looking for fun things to do with our kids in and around Parker, Colorado. Most outdoor families will enjoy these tips below.

Read about a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park here.

OK I know. The photo up there is from the Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park not the Spring but I love that view and that is where we picnic each year. I’ll do better next time on photo choice.

Anyway we were talking about day trips with kids and I offered up two really cool  places that are about to hit their peak seasons. Our family loves Rocky Mountain National Park and Sand Dunes National Park for day trip getaways from Parker.

NOTE: Since both of these are National Parks I advise a National Park Pass. Annual Passes can be purchased online and will be sent to you in a matter of days. They cost around $80 a year and you will easily recover your money in just a few days of visits. Remember you can use this around the Country at all National Parks. You can usually purchase these at the main gate of a National Park or just pay the day rate. I don’t know what day rates are right now.

FYI- If you live in Colorado and don’t have a National Park Pass sitting in your car’s console…shame on you! Millions of people from around the world travel here to see what we have in our backyard so take advantage of it.

Here is how we handle each trip and my recommendations.

Sand Dunes National Park is a little farther but it’s worth every hour in the car. 

Sand Dunes National Park catches the snow run off from the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. Each year around the end of May and early June there is a nice cool creek of water flowing through the sand dunes. I’m talking a few inches. Yes if you are early in the year and we had a huge snow season the water can be quite treacherous but usually by the times I mentioned above it should be low enough for even little kids. I’m talking about only an inch or two of water flowing in most places on a nice sandy creek bottom.

What to bring:

Pack like you are going to the beach. Lots of sun screen and bring your own shade. It does get hot.

Bring toys like a frisbee, wiffle ball set, football,  chairs, towels and plenty of water and snacks. Anything your family likes to do outside works here. Kites are especially fun. There is not food near by. You may need extra water to wash off for the ride home. We carry a 25 gallon jug in the back of the car just for cleaning off sandy kids. Those pop shade tents they sell at basically every store in Colorado work great on the dunes.

If you plan on hiking the sand dunes bring a camelback to carry water and closed toe shoes. The sand on the upper dunes will be HOT after midday. Most people can hike it fine in sandals but if you have delicate feet then bring regular hiking shoes. Plus the sand will wear the skin off the bottom of your feet walking and sliding back down. Think sandpaper. Women pay big bucks to have other people scrub their feet like that.

If we decide to go back home we will usually head home sometime around 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. OR…

Side trip from the Sand Dunes anyone? 

Inevitably we end up playing so much on the dunes and in the water that we get super hungry. Usually my wife is craving Mexican food by 3:00 in the afternoon. So we hop in the car and drive about another hour South to Taos, New Mexico. It’s an easy drive and the kids will be passed out after all the activity so it’s a nice quiet drive. There are numerous good restaurants and bars all over Taos, NM  to enjoy real Mexican food. Yum!

I cannot guarantee this but we have never hit Taos in the Spring or Summer when they didn’t have some sort of festival or art show or something going on in the center of town.

How about a quick overnight and drive home tomorrow?

Cruising back home from Taos at 5 or 6:00 in the evening never sounds like fun to me, especially on a full belly. so we usually end up finding a cheap place to stay. It has to have a pool that we can let the kids swim until bedtime and it has to be cheap.

Remember that ski season has just ended there so room rates are generally a third of what they are during ski season. Use AAA and all the Apps on your phone and find a good deal. Sometimes we have to stop at several places to get the deal we want but we always find it.

Tip: Around 6:00 at most hotels they are willing to deal on rooms. We once got a $500 a night room in one of Taos’ nicest resorts for $150.  Yeah it was still expensive for us and two kids but worth every penny for the resort amenities we used for one night. We even negotiated breakfast for the ride home. 

Now how about a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Working on this post right now. Check back in about 30 minutes…





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