Our new activity of choice has become overlanding ever since we welcomed a 4Runner into our family. We have attempted multiple ‘drives’ since there are so many beautiful locations near us, but going for an overlanding adventure with a toddler can be tricky. You never know when the littles will decide they have had enough, and it seems like our toddler can go from squealing of delightment to throwing a tantrum of “get me out of here” in about 2 seconds flat. We have learned to limit our driving stints and schedule plenty of stops to stretch and play on longer treks. I realize the overlanding philosophy may seem like it should take days, weeks, and for some, years. I disagree, though. The idea is to enjoy the journey; and each person’s journey will be a little different.
Our journeys tend to be on the day trip scale and we found the perfect route for families with kids (or adults with a short attention span!) It was a two hour loop right outside of downtown Boise, yet was a great trail with a few options for extreme overlanding (although any 4wheel vehicle could maneuver the course). As we climbed out of the city, the views of downtown were incredible- and after about 45 minutes of nothing covering the hills but sagebrush, we were able to cool off in the shade of the pine trees.
We started right downtown on 8th Street- the street actually turns into Sunset Peak Road, where you will see people hiking, biking, and ATVing in the Hulls Gulch/Camels Back Reserve. Once we reached the top of that mountain, we turned East on Boise Ridge Road. That connected us to Shaw Mountain Road which drops right into downtown again on Reserve Street! There are so many neat trails in that system, and would provide many great options for longer trips or connecting into Wilderness Ranch/Idaho City area. There were also some great options for dry camping- we thought about stopping to set the tent up to hang out for a few hours but the sun was burning a little too hot for our liking!
Lucy actually ended up sleeping the entire trail ride and started fussing when we were only a mile from home. So technically, maybe it wasn’t a family adventure. Maybe it was more of a parental break? Either way, it was a very fun outing with some pretty awesome views.
A few weeks ago, we went up to Sagehen Reservoir for some camping, kayaking, and fishing. The main reason I love Sagehen besides the beautiful setting is that it is so easily accessible! The reservoir is only 2 hours from our house in Meridian, which is pretty great for a weekend getaway. This was our first “real” camping trip with Lucy- we were there for 4 nights and she did really great. It’s amazing how great being out in nature is for kids; I felt like her mind just blossomed while we were there. She learned that the campfire was “hot” and then she proceeded to connect that with coffee cups, hot food, etc. Amazing!
As for the campground, Sagehen Campground is one of three campgrounds on Sagehen Reservoir. At first glance, campsite number 9 seems to be the best spot in the whole place with it’s own beach access and beautiful lake views. It is perfect if you have kayaks but not the best if you have little kiddos who have NO FEAR of water. We were right across from 9 in capsite number 8 and it was perfect for us in our situation. There was enough distance between us and the water that I wasn’t constantly worried of Lucy drowning, but we still had great views. But keep in mind campsite number 8 has terraces- it made for a really neat looking campsite but Lucy was just starting to get confident in her walking so it was a constant challenge to keep her from face planting while she ran down the steps and hillside. But this spot would be perfect for toddlers who are more steady on their feet because they would have alot of fun on the different levels. For activities, there is a 4 mile hiking trail around the lake, plenty of fishing opportunites, berry picking, and many ATV trails. We also found a great beach right off the trail that connects Sagehen and Antelope campgrounds that was perfect for swimming.
Camping with a toddler was very busy, I must admit. But Lucy loved being outside and watching her so happy made it all worth it! We learned a few tips and tricks while we were up there, and here are some items that helped the trip:
- Backpack Carrier: Riding along for hikes lulled Lucy into quite a trance- nap time was close to follow! Find similar backpack here.
- Inflatable Pool Toy: She loved being in the inflatable airplane her grandpa bought her, whether it was in the lake or with bath water inside of it for bath time. It made the perfect portable tub! Fun inflatable options here, here, and here.
- Bubbles: The most portable toy that captured Lucy’s attention for longer than the usual 2.5 seconds.
- Keens: The tot’s walking is still a little wobbly, so having good solid shoes was important! It also helped for when she wanted to walk into the water at the beach.
- Pack-able Highchair: This would have been extremely helpful if our girl didn’t have an aversion to sitting and eating at the moment. The design was great though, and it would have made meal time much more pleasant.