Provo is a city in Utah that's really making a name for itself on the educational front and as you would expect, it's a city with extensive cultural amenities. There are fantastic museums on the corner of almost every block whose exhibits diversify from dinosaurs to printing and so it's a great place to study or visit if you're interested in history and the arts.
With a growing student population, Provo is also focused on encouraging a healthy outdoor lifestyle and there is a fantastic trail system in the city as well as in the nearby Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and at the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Provo's climate could have been made for enjoying outdoor recreation too. It has mild summers ideal for hiking and cold winters with substantial snowfall perfect for winter sports enthusiasts who want to get in plenty of skiing and sledding.
Provo is almost an all-round city suitable for everyone apart from one thing. If you have younger children in the family you could well be struggling to keep them entertained. Take them on a weekend RV road trip from Provo to the Big Bear Lake in California and they will have a whale of a time watching a mock volcano erupt, riding a camel through the desert and getting up close and personal with some wolves.
As you're motoring toward Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest, if your children are five feet tall or over, stop off for a couple of hours to take them on a visit to the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary. Sadly if they're not quite that size, you'll have to leave visiting the sanctuary until they've grown a little more. The sanctuary only accepts visits by prior appointment from Thursday to Sunday between the hours of ten in the morning to midday, but the experience you'll have there is worth hitting the road early for.
Tours of the sanctuary last for one hour and during that short sixty minutes, you get to meet the resident wolves personally. All of the wolves at the sanctuary have been rescued from either private homes or have been injured and can't be returned to their natural habitat. A visit to the sanctuary is a great way of educating the kids on the difference between domestic pets and animals that are better left to do their own thing in the wild. It'll also show them that predators are a natural part of Nature's food chain and just as important to the environment as every other mammal.
After the young ones have had their camel ride they'll be more than happy to have a closer encounter with the desert, so pitch camp for a night in the Mojave National Preserve. There are two campgrounds in the preserve and both operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so no need to pre-plan your stopover in advance. The campgrounds are oriented to family visitors and have showers and restrooms plus the campsites are fitted out with grills, picnic tables, and fire rings.
During the day take the kids hiking along the Lake Tuendae Nature Trail. It's a short interpretive trail that will introduce them to the area's wildlife. You can access the trailhead on Zzyzx Road from the parking lot of the Desert Nature Center, which is somewhere they may enjoy browsing around too.
When you return to the campground, have lit a fire and have done a spot of stargazing, keep them busy guessing how to pronounce Zzyzx. Guaranteed, with no internet connection to Google the answer, they'll have fallen asleep before they get it right. Just so you have the answer to hand – it's pronounced Zye-zix.
There's one unique experience you can give the kids during your family RV road trip from Provo to Big Bear Lake that you definitely wouldn't get the chance to do if you stayed in the city. Take them for a Camel Safari. Bunkerville is a small community just past the city of Mesquite on the I15 that is surrounded by the Nevada desert. It's an ideal environment for camels and the kids will be thrilled to know they can choose the type of camel they ride on – one hump or two.
The camel safaris operate five days a week from Thursday through to Monday and the trip lasts for around two hours. Once they're mounted in the camel saddle they'll be led along dirt trails through the desert. After the safari is over they can meet some exotic animals like zedonks, armadillos, alpacas, and llamas in the small zoo, have a camel encounter or find out what it's like to be a zookeeper and look after the animals.
Leave Provo heading south along the I 15 on your route to Big Bear Lake and you'll have a scenic drive through the Fishlake National Forest, the Dixie National Forest, and the Zion National Park. By the time you get to St George on the Utah-Arizona border, while the kids may have been busy watching changing landscapes flit past through the window, they'll probably start to be a little restless. Sitting still for four hours is not so easy when you're young, no matter how pretty the scenery is.
Give them a chance to work off their pent up energy by pulling in at the Thunder Junction Park in St George. The park has everything to keep the kids amused for a couple of hours while you get a rest from driving. They'll love the park's dinosaur theme, the volcano that erupts sporadically spurting plumes of smoke in the air, the made-to-scale steam train, and if the weather is warm, they can cool off in the waterfall-style cascades of the splash pad. After having so much fun, they'll be more than happy to sit still for a while longer until you arrive at your next road trip destination.
Big Bear Lake is both a city and an expanse of water that was once only inhabited by, yes, you guessed it, big grizzly bears. It's a location that has changed drastically over time to become a major winter sports resort in California, as well as somewhere to discover nature during the rest of the year.
If your family RV road trip weekend is taking place in the summer, take the kids to the Big Bear Discovery Center then hiking on some of the fantastic waterside forest trails. If you're heading there in winter they won't be short of diversion and you'll probably have trouble getting them off the Alpine Slide on Magic Mountain or out of the Big Bear Snow Play Area. The truth? It doesn't matter when you roll up in your rig to Big Bear Lake, the kids will love it much more than they would visiting the endless museums in Provo.