Outbound Collective logo

Cali Bound: 9 Adventures from our Family Road Trip out West

The 9 amazing adventures we shared during our week long road trip from North Texas to Southern California.

By: Nick Garcia + Save to a List

Road trips have become our families #1 favorite past time, which is great because over the past 10 months we have been traveling the country while my wife takes different nursing assignments as a travel nurse. We like to start each trip by loading up with large bottles of Smartwater, Jack Links Sweet and Hot Beef Jerky and Sour Patch Kids before we hit the road for our next destination. If we happen to be starting our trip in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, we also make a stop at the new Buc-ee's located in north Fort Worth. For those of you non-texans, Buc-ee's is a Gas Station known for their Beaver Nuggets and squeaky clean bathrooms. Buc-ee's is a must if you find yourself traveling through Texas and in the mood for delicious road trip snacks.

This past January, we got to experience our favorite road trip yet, when we loaded up our Subaru Forrester and headed west to Southern California. I had a lot of fun with google maps searching various routes, finding which route took us through the best sites, and if any of those said routes would pass any restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives! I honestly spent more time then I probably should have coming up with our perfect route, but whatever, what's done is done. I can also say I'm truly blessed to have a wife and daughter who are literally "down for the ride" because I ended up taking us 10 hours out of the way to knock off some items on my travel bucket list. 

Here is a list of the 9 amazing Outbound Adventures our family experienced on our epic trip.

Adventure 1. Amarillo, TX - Cadillac Ranch

The first stop on our journey was to this famous stop near historic Route 66. These 10 old Cadillacs partially buried into the ground is an art installation created in 1974. Many visitors bring spray paint to tag one of the relics to mark their visit. If you are lucky enough (like we were), you might be able to find a half-ful can lying around.

Adventure 2. Albuquerque, NM - Ride to the Top of Sandia Peak

We had actually spent 3 months last summer in Albuquerque, so we had the opportunity to take this tram ride a few times. This particular trip was even more special because of the snow! The peak was covered in freshly fallen snow making the Sandia Mountain Wilderness a beautiful place to explore.

Adventure 3. Page, AZ - Hike to Horseshoe Bend

This was by far the most meaningful stop for me as visiting Horseshoe Bend had been on the top of my bucket list since I was a Cub Scout. I still remember the first time I saw a picture of Horseshoe Bend on the cover of a Boys' Life magazine. I always thought it was the coolest rock formation I had ever seen. I still think it's pretty damn amazing, and it definitely did not disappoint. Being able to experience this with my family was an added bonus.

Adventure 4. Zion, UT - Hike to Zions Upper Emerald Pool 

I had My heart set on hiking Angels Landing for weeks before our arrival to Zion, but I had not planned for the bad weather that occurred days before our arrival which made a family hike to Angels Landing too dangerous for us to take on. We "settled" on hiking to the Upper Emerald Pools, which in reality isn't settling because it was a beautiful hike with great views of the inner canyon in Zion. 

Adventure 5. Zion, UT - Hike Zions Canyon Overlook

We met another family during our half day hike to the Pools, and decided to add anther day to our road trip to take an impromptu trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. During my many road trip planning sessions, I had been going back and fourth about whether or not we would be able to go travel to Bryce Canyon due to road conditions, but after finding out the roads were safe to drive, we headed 2 hours in the opposite direction to visit the park. So on our way out of Zion heading towards Bryce Canyon, we stopped for a quick hike to the Canyon Overlook for some awesome views and photos. Definite Christmas Card quality pictures! 

Adventure 6. Zion, UT - Hike Many Pool 

This adventure was great and I have The Outbound exclusively to thank for finding it. This is not a hike listed on any Zion National Park publication as it is mostly just a small exploring area off the side of the main road on the east side of the park. It was perfect because not only were we completely alone, but we also came across a small group of Bighorn Sheep. 

Adventure 7. Bryce, UT - Winter Hike the Navajo-Queens Garden Loop

I had seen a few hoodoos during my time in New Mexico, but that was nothing compared to the collection that make up a huge portion of Bryce Canyon National Park. This particular hike is a wonderful way to take in the views of the thousands of hoodoos from above, then weave your way down into the canyon and walk among the remarkable rock formations. Although I have only seen Bryce Canyon covered in snow, I fully agree with the many other folks who say it might be the best time of year to visit the park.

Adventure 8. Kolob, UT - Hike to the Timber Creek Overlook

On our way back around central Utah heading towards Las Vegas, we made a pit stop at the Kolob Canyon portion of Zion for a quick hike to the Timber Creek Overlook. This hike offers another breathtaking look at another canyon within Zion National Park.

Adventure 9. Huntington Beach, CA - Catch a Sunset at Sunset Beach

I actually spent most of my childhood in Southern California before my family relocated to north Texas, so I had spent some time at Huntington Beach and other local socal beaches. I couldn't imagine ending our amazing road trip in a better place. I was able to watch my daughter run on the same sand and splash around in the same ocean I had played in during the early part of my childhood. 

We look forward to our next big family road trip, wherever that may be. In the mean time we have some amazing pictures and memories from our wonderful adventure packed trip to the Wild Wild West.

More Photos From Our West Coast Road Trip: 

Bryce Canyon National Park - Queens Garden


Zion National Park - Canyon Overlook

Zion National Park - Entrance to The Narrow

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold