Lamb’s Canyon is between Park City and Salt Lake City; just off of Interstate 80. I had been wanting to explore the area for a while. We stopped off at the exit once in April coming back from SLC, but it was still pretty snowy, the season gate to the road was still locked, and we were not prepared for a long hike.
But we took advantage of a little extra time during the long fourth of July weekend to plan and do a hike in Lamb’s Canyon.
At this point in the season, the gate is open so you can drive all the way into the trailhead. The trailhead is well marked, has restrooms, but fairly limited parking. I saw several cyclists on the road, so that might be something I have to check out at some point.
The weather has been hot and it seemed like many folks started early. However, we only saw a handful of folks on the trail, so the hike gets a good marks for being low traffic. We did see a few trail runners, and some lady on an e-bike (boo). The Lambs Canyon Trail is in good shape, although there are several downed trees across the trail. The trail is reasonably shaded. And there were lots of pretty wildflowers.
Here are the stats on our ascent:
Over two thousand feet in just under three miles is no joke. And it was a pretty steady ascent, so be prepared. On All Trails, the hike was rated as Moderate. I would rate it as Moderate Plus for sure, maybe even Difficult.
Our goal was to turn off and head out to Millvue Peak. Although the actual Lambs Canyon Trail continues straight. But the trail once you leave the Lambs Canyon Trail and turn left toward Millvue peak was pretty overgrown at this point in the season, still had some fairly serious elevation gain, and we were feeling a bit low energy, so we picked a lunch spot looking at Gobbler’s Knob and turned around.
I think we will try to come back and attempt the hike again in the Fall when the weather is cooler, there are less bugs, and maybe some of the vegetation has subsided.
We spent the last two weekends camping in Grand Teton N.P. Here are some highlights.
We stayed at the Signal Mountain Campground in sites #69 and #68 for the two weekends. The campground itself is moving toward the north part of the park, but not quite all the way up to Colter Bay. The location is off of Teton Park Rd. and is right on Jackson Lake.
The two sites we stayed at where both in the “generator free” zone. Theoretically, there is a vehicle size limit in the campground as well, but that did not seem well enforced.
Both sites had private paths down to the lake, which was key. We preferred #68 vs. #69, since the site had more space for your tent, etc. Site #69 is better for small RVs that do not need a tent.
We did six hikes. Here they are in my order of preference:
Cascade Canyon – This was a great hike. We opted for the (fairly expensive) boat ride across Jenny Lake. And once we cleared most the folks who stopped at inspiration point – other hikers thinned out considerably. We went up the North Fork of the trail for about another half mile or so and found a good lunch spot. The views were amazing. We want to come back and try to make it all the way to Solitude Lake, but need an earlier start.
Hermitage Point – This was pretty long hike (~9 miles), but the views were worth it and the traffic was surprising low. We had an awesome lunch spot all to ourselves. I would suggest hiking clockwise. The opposite direction we hiked, but you would get better views of the mountains.
Woodland and Lake Creek Trail – We did this hike on our way out of the park on our last Sunday. The trailhead is in Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve, which is a cool story and worth researching. The hike is short (~3 miles) and easy, but nice. Traffic was not bad, despite being close to Jackson, due to limiting cars in the parking lot (no overflow parking on the road allowed). We waited a bit for a spot, but it was worth it.
Taggart Lake – We did this hike heading out of the park on Sunday of our first weekend. Since we had to break camp, we got a bit of a late start and the trailhead was packed with substantial overflow of cars onto the shoulder of the road. Despite all the other hikers, this was a pretty enjoyable hike and we snagged a great lunch spot on a rock in the lake. The hike was ~4 miles and pretty easy.
Grand View Point / Two Ocean Lake / Emma Matilda Lake complex – We affectionately called this one Daddy’s Death March. One, the parking lot is not where the book said it was going to be, so we added another 1.5 miles or so on unexpectedly. Two, it was hot. Three, we wove a few trails together, so my family was convinced we were lost, while I on the other hand knew we were in Wyoming the entire time. In all seriousness, I think we would have liked this hike better if it had been cooler and we had saved ourselves some mileage at the beginning. I think we hiked ~11 miles. These trails are toward the north side of the park and away from the mountains, so much lower traffic. And I did particularly enjoy the trail segment between Emma Matilda and Two Ocean Lake, which we walked heading westerly and were staring at the mountains the whole time. We did see three separate piles of bear scat, so bring our bear bell and spray.
Signal Mountain Summit – This was our first hike of our first weekend and it disappointed. The view at the top was marginal. The hike itself – while low traffic – was not that great. A plus was the trailhead was at our campground.
A few other thoughts – aside from the park is phenomenally beautiful and we had two great weekends.
On the Cascade Canyon hike, I was pretty surprised at how many folks we saw venturing fairly far up that trail that were totally unprepared for any change in conditions. Think shorts, tshirts, poor footwear, and little to no water or food. We live in a mountain environment. The weather folks are mostly guessing and they are wrong a lot. Be prepared.
The first weekend was very busy. Jackson looked super busy – we just drove through it. Some of that was a hangover from Memorial Day weekend, but I would be prepared for lots of traffic and some long lines.
I grew up in Florida. I hate Orlando. And most parts of Florida south of that point. Too many tourists.
We have been here in Park City Utah for about 18 months now. I am most certainly not a local, but I am grumpy like one. And I understand why the locals are grumpy. Too many tourists. There is a reason on a weekend powder day, the locals are in line by 8:30a and back at the parking lot by 10:30a. To the guys in the pickup truck from Idaho the road rage merged into us in the turn lane at the Canyon resort on a panic powder day – I hope you got stuck at the Orange Bubble lift line and all your powder lines got packed out.
Traffic laws also apply when you are on vacation. Slow down. Especially if you do not know where you are going. Which obviously you don’t. To the guy in the minivan that flipped me off on Moose Wilson road in Grand Teton last weekend because you had to yield for 30 seconds on the one lane bridge, I hope the pictures you took out the window of your van sucked. Sucked more than having to drive a minivan.
There is also wildlife. I want you to see a moose. I think they are cool. There was one sleeping in my neighbor’s front yard the other day. So, the moose jam you are creating is not impressing anyone. Respect the wildlife. Act like you’ve seen some before. And, you probably miss most the wildlife because of the previous point.
Locals also shop at the grocery store you are storming through like a hoard of locusts. Grocery shopping is not a timed event. Rather than be that tourist, learn to pre-order everything online for pickup. One, it will save you a couple hours of your vacation. Two, it will create a local job.
But mostly, please remember that being on vacation is not an excuse for being an asshole. You are not more entitled than anyone else, especially the people who live where you are vacationing.
We went on a ski trip on March 14th, 2020. It turns out, the timing of the trip left a little to be desired. Or maybe, everything happens for a reason. What do I know?
Despite the rapidly deteriorating situation related to the COVID global pandemic, we decided to go ahead and fly out to Utah to meet some friends for Spring Break in Park City. We took precautions. We wore masks and gloves, washed our hands, etc. People looked at us like we were aliens. N95 was not in the general lexicon yet.
We skied half a day at Park City Mountain Resort. Then the world shut down. In response, the Vail Company closed all their ski resorts.
In hindsight, I commend the Vail Company for making that decision in order to protect the ski towns in which they operate. At the time, I was pissed off. So we did what any conscientious citizens would do. We drove up to Snowbasin the next day – along with two thirds of Utah – and skied our last inbounds day of the year.
We returned to Park City that evening. Most folks – including our friends from Florida – fled back to their hometowns. The entire town emptied.
On the home front, work went remote. School went remote. Toilet paper became scarce.
Mrs. SFTE and I looked at each other. And collectively said, why go back to Ohio? We’re on vacation. Besides what are we going to do in Ohio anyway? The last question isn’t necessarily pandemic related.
At the end of the week, we called Delta and pushed our return flight back to Columbus out a bit. We called the vacation rental place. Yes, we could stay in our space. In fact, we could pick any place in the whole complex we wanted. We upsized.
Another week went by. I found a bigger place in lower Deer Valley with an office loft, hot tub, and refrigerator that cost more than my car. Yes, the owner would be glad to do a long term rental. She would send me an invoice through PayPal (sorry AirBnb, I still think you are beautiful unicorn).
We had Deer Valley to ourselves. We walked up Solamere Drive every night. Through neighborhoods of multi-million dollar houses – totally empty. We bought snowshoes. We demoed touring gear. The ski patrol shack at the top of PCMR was an eerie reminder – like an archaeological site where the inhabitants just disappeared without a trace – tools and belongings left perfectly undisturbed.
The snow started melting. We walked more. I broke down and ordered some running shoes. The trails dried. We became best friends with the folks at Park City Bike Demos. Turns out that board shorts over base layers is a perfectly good riding option.
We did laundry frequently. In May, I doubled my clothing options by ordering a pair of pants and a shirt from Stio.
Finally in June, we headed back to Ohio. We had to. Our lease was ending. And we thought it was a good idea to get my wife’s car out of airport parking. It actually started.
We had to get our stuff. Stuff that we had done without for three months. Stuff we had nearly forgotten about. It was sort of like a bizarre Christmas morning when we got home. We stepped back into the life we had left almost four months earlier, and sort of no longer existed.
Dress shirts sitting in a dry cleaning bag (they’re still in that bag – but moved to a new house). Dress shirts worn to an office that was no longer open for business. In a dry cleaning bag for a dry cleaner that I hope had long ago stopped coming by the house looking for a pickup.
We were almost overwhelmed by our own stuff. After three months of just a few pieces of clothing, we had closets full of stuff. I only had two t-shirts on my trip. Generally, one was clean, one was dirty. Easy choice. Now I had to choose between twenty. Socks. Oh my god. On my trip, I had three pairs of non ski socks. At home, three drawers full. Shoes. On my trip, one pair of snow boots and my newly acquired running shoes. At home, I could wear a different pair every day for weeks without repeating. Why? Why do we have all this stuff?
Packing for a week long ski trip, but staying for three months, really opened our eyes to how little of our stuff we really need or actually miss.
We had always talked about doing “Christmas at Yellowstone.” It was sort of a bucket list trip. So we decided that now was as good of time as any – packed up my mom, the kids, and the two of us and went for it.
Here’s a rough outline of our agenda with a sampling of the 3,000+ photos we took!
Note: This post was a long time in the making. Our trip took place Dec. 16 – 24, 2017.
Day 1 – December 16
This was mostly a travel day and fairly uneventful.
We flew into Jackson, WY and rented a car. Grabbed a quick bite to eat at Snake River Brewery. And hit the road to drive up to West Yellowstone, MT.
There is a pretty decent mountain pass between Jackson and West Yellowstone (Teton Pass Highway). And Google routed us backroads to save us I am guessing 38 seconds at the risk of being lost in the wilderness if we encountered car troubles. Although, we did see the largest mule deer that we’ve ever seen.
We used the Kelly Inn as our base camp in West Yellowstone, and it got the job done.
Day 2 – December 17
The second day was about getting into the park as we were staying the next couple of nights in the park at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
We decided to spend a little extra and use the trip in as a private geyser tour (totally worth every dollar). We used Backcountry Adventures as our tour guide for all our tours.
The snowmobile tours are pretty popular. That really wasn’t an option for us with my mom and daughter. But there are some advantages to the snowcoach – mainly you’re not driving. Also, you have more sets of eyes to see things that I think you’d just motor past on a snowmobile.
We saw some awesome sights on the way into the park.
When your guide is impressed by the sights, you know you’ve just seen something cool.
The cold temperatures really highlight the thermal features.
Flocking occurs when the steam refreezes where it lands
We stayed at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Our trip coincided with the first week the park was open for its winter season and that seemed to work to our advantage as visitor traffic was pretty light for our whole trip.
Day 3 – December 18
We decided to do a day excursion from the Old Faithful area over to the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The trip took us across the Continental Divide via a snowcoach.
One of the interesting parts of visiting in winter is that the snow and cold temperatures really highlights the multitude of thermal features – that you probably wouldn’t notice in warmer months. All those unfrozen spots in the lake are the result of hidden thermal features.
After returning to the Snow Lodge back at the Old Faithful area, Mrs. SFTE and I rented some cross country skis from the Bear Den Ski Shop and she proceeded to pound me into the ground.
We attempted to make it out to the Lone Star Geyser, but ran out of daylight.
Day 4 – December 19
This was our last day at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. We scheduled a group shuttle back out to the West Entrance around mid-day, but that gave us some time to explore the Upper Geyser Basin in the morning.
When I tell folks about the trip, this was one of the most amazing parts (to me at least). I think we were about the only people out in the Geyser Basin this morning. Compare that to pictures during other seasons.
Day 5 – December 20
The fifth day was a trip to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The canyon (Canyon Village area) is in the north central part of the park. It was actually easier to get there from West Yellowstone, than from the Old Faithful area. That’s why we chose to leave the park the day before. And the Kelly Inn was a little more economical than the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
However, even from West Yellowstone, this was a full day trip. We chose to do a private tour again and we had Mr. Pierre as our tour guide again.
Our tour guide was awesome!
This was a good day (every day on this trip was a good day). It was a lot of windshield time. If you made me choose one thing to take out of our trip, it probably would be this day.
We started off the seventh day with a half day wildlife tour guided by Bear Witness Safari. Highly recommended.
And did a tour of the National Elk Refuge. The weather had been pretty warm without much snow, so despite a heroic effort of our sled driver, we only saw a few elk. In fact there was so little snow, the sled was actually a wagon.
Can you find the elk in this picture? There’s at least three.
Day 8 – December 23
The eighth day of our trip was open. We stopped by Jackson Hole and drove over to Grand Teton National Park.
Day 9 – December 24
The ninth day was our return trip back to Ohio.
We’ve all said that we would do this exact trip again.
The only thing I think I would change is spend a few more days at the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone. Originally, I was thinking that you might run out of things to do here. Far from it. I could easily spend several more days here and would plan on some snowshoeing or nordic skiing trips out to some of the geysers a bit further out.
We took advantage of my business trip in late July to the Los Angeles area to take a family trip to Yosemite National Park (https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm). While not necessarily the closest option, Mrs. SFTE had never been and I was there only once for about a day back when I lived in San Francisco. So we decided to go for it.
Given that we had limited time and the trip was multi-purpose, I think
we did a pretty solid job of seeing a solid portion of the park.
We left the Los Angeles area around noon and had a pretty hefty drive up to the park.
We stayed in the cabins at Camp Curry (formerly Half Dome Village). No, not real camping, but convenient, since we didn’t really have gear.
We have some friends that worked in the park for a while, so we asked them about areas that would provide a good feel for the park given our limited time but also help avoid the heat and the crowds.
They sent us up to Toulomne Meadows. I’d highly recommend making the trek up there.
“This is no longer a vacation, it’s a quest.” – Clark Griswold
Our neighbors invited us to go skiing in Colorado over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. We hadn’t gotten out west to ski since 2016, when we did a week at Keystone.
It was a great trip. Since we were traveling with friends, we did some things differently than if we had been planning the trip ourselves, but that generally turned out to be a good experience.
Frisco. We didn’t stay at a resort, but instead stayed in Frisco. This is a cool little ski town. We had more space, for less cost, and didn’t miss being at the resort.
Copper Mountain. We skied Copper Mountain, which we had never done. Our friends had a connection on some discounted passes. Really enjoyed the resort. Nice terrain with low key, family friendly vibe.
Airbnb. This one will make me sound out of touch, but we had never used Airbnb. Easy. No issues. Place was awesome.
Turo. We used Turo to rent a passenger van at a great rate. There were no family trucksters available. Rate was great, but there were a few things less than convenient. Pickup and drop off were in the general parking areas. Found the requirement to wash the vehicle yourself (or incur an additional charge) a bit inconvenient. Found the requirement to vacuum out the vehicle entirely impractical, unless you dropped off all your gear at the airport and then went back out to find a car wash somewhere (Denver’s airport is not exactly close to anything).
Southwest. We flew Southwest. I hadn’t flown Southwest since 2007, when I flew the airline on a business trip from St. Louis to Cleveland (I think) and was seated in this middle seat of a rearward facing row. This trip was much more pleasant than the prior. With kiddos, you get some preference in boarding priority. And, ski gear flies free (one bag = ski bag + boot bag).
Day 1 – Friday.
First flight out put us on the ground in Colorado early. After some delays getting through the tunnel, we managed to get checked in early and headed over to Copper for a few hours of skiing. They had gotten about 3” overnight and 6” throughout the day, so conditions were fantastic.
We hit up Peppino’s Pizza since we hadn’t stopped for groceries yet and I would recommend it.
Day 2 – Saturday.
Our rental place was super well stocked. They even had an electric griddle. Pancakes play an important part in our lives.
Breakfast and then off to ski. Great day, although my daughter did learn some valuable lessons about tree wells.
Day 3 – Sunday.
Good day. A bit crowded due to the holiday weekend. We found the Rendezvous Lift and the Wheeler Creek and Union Park runs, which were a lot of fun and kept us out of some of the longer lift lanes at the base.
The resort had put in a couple of new lifts but they were not operating at 100%, and combined with the crowds, were causing some longer lines.
Day 4 – Monday.
Yep, more skiing.
Day 5 – Tuesday.
Our flight was later in the afternoon, but decided not to try to ski. We did a short hike up to Rainbow Lake, which was accessible from some trails basically out the backdoor of our rental place.
We checked out and grabbed breakfast at Bread + Salt. Highly recommended.
Given that I started a new role less than five months ago, my holiday schedule was up in the air a bit as the year came to a close. Also, the end of the year is always a bit hectic with budgeting – and this was the first budgeting cycle for this board and management team. Plus, there are a number of other initiatives underway (more on some of those later).
So we opted for a relatively low stress and flexible holiday plan.
We had made our first trip as a family up to Holiday Valley at the end of last season for a long weekend. We were living outside of Cleveland at that time so the drive was under three hours. Even from Columbus it is fairly manageable – under five hours – and almost all highway with little in the way of city traffic.
Driving also makes it much easier to pack gear, food, and for this trip – presents.
Overall, we’ve found the resort to be low-key and family friendly. The skiing is definitely east coast – but I would argue respectable. Skiable area is 290 acres including 58 runs and 13 lifts. The longest run, Mardi Gras, comes in at a mile. Total vertical is 750 feet – again east coast metrics – but on par with Seven Springs or Snowshoe. A plus is that Holiday Valley is in the lake effect snowbelt, so average snowfall comes in at 180 inches.
Last year, we drove in on the backside of a storm that dropped about 12 inches that made for really great skiing. And, I have friends who have said they have had full on powder days here. Also, being east coast, they have 95% snow making coverage.
Our favorite trail is Tannebaum, which takes you through a really beautiful pine glade.
Yes, got the golden chair lift.
We stayed in the same condos, Snow Pines, that we did last year. Nothing fancy for sure, but ski in / ski out and reasonably priced. Discounted ski passes come with the lodging. We averaged just over $50 per day per adult. Our daughter skis free.
The town, Ellicottville, has a nice ski town vibe. The Ellicottville Brewery is definitely worth checking out and I’d recommend their signature Blueberry beer (yes, that is a blueberry floating in our beer). Growler fills are reasonable too (~$12) so pack that too.
So, nice little break at the end of a pretty long block of work starting back in August. It was great to disengage a bit – in a way that sticking around town would not have made possible. But the trip was pretty low-key, so avoided some of the “I need a vacation from my vacation” syndrome that can happen on more involved trips. The saw should be pretty sharp at the start of the New Year.
Most importantly, we got four ski days in to start off our ski season. We’re looking for 25+ days this season…that’s something to keep the motivation levels up..