It’s been really easy to dream lately, with a vaccine being administered and hope on the horizon that life will return to some sense of what we knew before the pandemic hit. We mentally escape often, looking at hot airfare deals and thinking — hard — about diving in and taking advantage of screaming discounts.
For the most part, we’ve ignored the craving to fly and found alternative escapes. The beach was kind to us over the summer when guidelines allowed us to visit, while local trails and lakes fed our desire to get out and play. We did what anybody else could have and loved every minute of it — swimming, fishing and floating.
We’re not sure what we would have done without the lake, since many local swimming pools were closed. That’s one thing we’ll be looking forward to in the new year — returning to the various city pools we love for different reasons, be it the high dive or the lazy river or the side-by-side twisty slides that let you race to the finish. Without a pool of our own in the backyard, city pools are our reprieve in the summer, and the one nearest us kept our spirits afloat through the long, hot summer of 2020.
Once it becomes safe enough for reservations, we may be among the first in line to take our crew to experience Antelope Canyon near Page in northern Arizona. We visited without them a few years ago, and a photo hanging in our family room has captured the kids’ attention ever since. Without an opportunity to see it this year, it makes us even more eager to see it once tours become available again.
While we’re there, we’ll stop at nearby Horseshoe Bend. We kayaked and camped down along the river without the kids just before Thanksgiving (which was incredible), but the kids haven’t had a chance to see the overlook. And they want to.
Lowell Observatory, in Flagstaff, has been on our list for a while now, too. So, once indoor activities are a little more safe, we’d love the opportunity to get up there and get a better look at the universe — or at least as much as we can see. Camping gives us a pretty spectacular view of the night sky, but we’re pretty sure Lowell could get us a little closer.
Across state lines, we’d love to get back to southern Utah and spend more time exploring there. There are so many slot canyons to see and so many parks to experience, most notably Canyonlands National Park, which we haven’t yet gotten a chance to see.
And finally, we continue to dream of Yosemite National Park in central California. We were ready to go this year, campsite reservation in hand, only to learn of the campground’s closure early in the pandemic. We’ll try again, though, and get in there at some point. The kids won’t let us hear the end of it, and we can’t seem to stop dreaming about it.
2021 travel bucket list
This is a great month to start your own bucket list of Arizona (find more inspiration at visitarizona.com) and out-of-state travel destinations. Here’s what we plan to explore as soon as possible.
This slot canyon east of Page in northern Arizona sits inside Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, and guided tours are mandatory. The sandstone canyon, known for its wave-like appearance, is a much-photographed and beloved state landmark. navajonationparks.org/tribal-parks/lake-powell/
Another much-photographed state landmark, Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River bends around a sandstone canyon near Page. It’s inside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and accessible via a short hike from a Page parking lot. nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/horseshoe-bend
This observatory was established in 1894 on a mesa overlooking downtown Flagstaff and is credited with the discovery of Pluto. In addition to being a family friendly tourism destination, the observatory is an independent, non-profit research institution. lowell.edu
Canyonlands National Park
Located in southeastern Utah near Moab, this park is known for its colorful landscape of canyons, mesas and buttes eroded by the Colorado and Green rivers. nps.gov/cany
Yosemite National Park
Located in central California, this 1,200 square mile park features waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias and a vast wilderness area. nps.gov/yose