Top Posts of 2021

Outside my office window the snow is falling here in Arkansas. Between rising COVID cases and the weather, we are feeling a little stuck. I’m choosing to embrace staying at home by enjoying some chili and watching football with my husband this afternoon. And since it’s a long weekend, I hope to drink some tea by our fireplace and finish my book club book too.

I’m eager to get started with our adventures for 2022, but in the spirit of rest and reflection, today I’m excited to look back at the top 3 posts of 2021. We made such fun memories this year.

Top Post – staying at the lodge at golf shores state park

We typically write about hiking in Colorado and Northwest Arkansas, but this year I also included a review of our trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama. It turns out, we were not the only ones drawn to the ocean this year because Staying at The Lodge at Gulf State Park was our top post! Reading it again makes me want to go back right now.

Lodge at Gulf State Park

Runner up: mount magazine cabins: staying at the highest point in arkansas

Our second most-read post was Mount Magazine Cabins: Stay at the Highest Point in Arkansas. Mount Magazine is just two hours south of our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The cabin we rented had a wraparound deck where we could take in the amazing views of the Petit Jean River Valley. Plus, a hot tub!

Mount Magazine Arkansas cabin

third place: a winter hike on long’s peak trail

Our third most popular post from last year was written by my husband about an amazing winter hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The pictures from his post, A Winter Hike on the Long’s Peak Trail are beautiful. We attempted to repeat this hike in December, which I wrote about here Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park.

These pages and posts have been on our site for a while but continue to be popular.

Happy Birthday to Our Little Mountain Tot

Finally, I want to wish a happy birthday to our youngest daughter who will be turning 5-years-old this month. It’s hard to believe, but when I started writing about our hiking adventures on this blog she wasn’t even born yet.

If you ask Evy, she will say that she prefers ocean to mountains, but when she is in Colorado her favorite activity is to play in the snow. Her favorite hike is Lily Lake and her favorite thing about our cabin is ‘it’s beautiful’.

The Pool: Evy’s First Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Staying at The Lodge at Gulf State Park

Today I want to share one of the highlights of our year. We took a family trip to Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama over Spring Break in mid/late March 2021.

We drove from our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas to Gulf Shores. The drive takes approximately 11 hours, so we broke up the journey by spending the night in a hotel on the way down. After so many hours in the car, we were eager to get out of the car and explore the Lodge.

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Lodge at Gulf State Park is A Hilton Hotel. We booked the 1 King – 1 Bunk Bed Studio Suite. The girls loved the bunk beds and the view of Lake Shelby across the street. My husband and I also used the studio suite as a cozy office space.

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Lake Shelby Gulf State Park
View of Lake Shelby

Another feature of the room we liked was the private balcony. This was a relaxing spot to sip a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise over the ocean. The girls also used the balcony as an art space to do watercolor paintings.

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama

The only challenge with the room was the small mini fridge. For families who need gallons of milk like ours does, I recommend bringing a good cooler. We also took advantage of the onsite restaurants including Roasted Oak coffee shop, Dragonside pool side, and Food Craft. My favorite meal was the Gulf Shrimp and Grits.

Restaurants Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Outdoor seating at Food Craft Restaurant at Gulf State Park
Pool Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama

The average temperature in Gulf Shores, Alabama in March is between 58 and 70 degrees F according to weather-us.com. The beautiful outdoor pool was not heated, but our girls were brave and enjoyed splashing around in the pool almost as much as they liked playing in the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

This was our youngest daughter’s first time seeing the ocean. As a parent, I can’t imagine a better memory than watching my kids take in the vastness of the ocean for the first time.

Ocean Views Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama

We also had a blast searching for seashells on the long, white beaches that stretched for miles outside the Lodge.

Sea Shells Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Shells on the beach Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
looking for seashells Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama top family vacation

We decided to leave a day early because of Red flag conditions and thunderstorm forecasts. This left us feeling like we had more to explore including the hiking and biking trails around Lake Shelby. Here is a map of the full park. Here is a link with more ideas about things to do in Gulf State Park.

We stayed at the Lodge, however the park offers a variety of accomodations including camping (Gulf State Park Campground Map).

Overall, I highly recommend the Lodge at Gulf Shores State Park. If you want to enjoy warmer temperatures, plan for later in the season. However, if you want lower prices, Spring Break was an awesome option for our family. Personally, I’d like to go back during Sea Turtle season which is May through October.