We loaded up the SUV with the family one early Friday morning over Labor Day weekend and began our journey from Las Vegas for our first Southern Utah vacation.  As we wound our way up through SR 14, just outside of Cedar City, we came upon these towering bright red, pink, and orange rock formations of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The Indians called this millions of years old formation the “Circle of Painted Cliffs.”  After taking in the beautiful rocks, we continued our journey up to the peak of the mountain pass. Once we reached the summit I checked my altitude smartphone app and it read 10,020 ft. We rolled down the windows to inhale the crystal clear air and the aroma of subtle pine – and you can definitely feel the thin air at that altitude.

As we began our descent from the peak, we viewed the diversity of the Southern Utah landscapes as we passed by giant volcanic fields, birch and aspen trees, as well as alpine lakes and streams. We made a quick stop just before Duck Creek Village to watch a fly fisherman reel in a beautiful rainbow trout. As we made our way to our vacation rental we could see a family enjoying an ATV ride though the marked trails of the Dixie National Forest and knew that would soon be our family on our own ATV adventure. Once we arrived at our vacation rental we looked over into the pasture of the estate and saw a herd of wild Mule deer doe’s with their babies making their way to drink from the onsite watering pond.

Jordan, the onsite caretaker, welcomed us as we pulled up to the estate. He opened the front door to begin a tour of the home. That seemed secondary at the moment; we stood there in the great room and admired the breath taking views of the Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon though the large picture windows. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you are surrounded by the natural art that God has created for us to experience. The kids quickly made their way to the deck to see the deer come to the pond and feeders. I thought the squeals of the excitement from the kids would scare them off, but it only caused them to take a quick glance and they went about their business. The home is amazing, it has everything you would want for five star accommodations and the craftsmanship of this large log home is exceptional to see.

I could write a book about the details of the experience we had over the 3 days we stayed, but to make a long story short, we rode ATV’s directly from the property, hiked the trails of Bryce and Zion, fed the horses, collected fresh eggs for breakfast from the chicken coup, picked fresh vegetables from the garden, roasted smore’s over the firepit, enjoyed a glass of wine at sundown with my wife in the hot tub, and cooked some amazing food on the bbq. It was a bonding experience for my family that we will never forget.

So you may be wondering why this was the most expensive vacation of my life? It’s a special place that profoundly impacted me and my family so we decided we wanted a place to call our own. We bought a lot just across the ridge and are planning to build our own mountain retreat this spring.