At A Glance – Having an adventurous retirement is totally possible for you. No matter how constrained your time and flexibility have been, your future can be whatever you make of it.
If retirement is in your future, you’re probably looking forward to a whole new life. You may have it all mapped out, or you may be wondering what it will look like.
I’d like to share a small slice of my retirement experiences from time to time. Maybe it will give you an idea of what is possible. Yours won’t look like mine, but we can all share ideas and learn from each other.
First, I want to get you thinking about what kinds of adventures are possible. Then, I’ll share a bit about my first adventurous retirement trip.
Why You Want Adventures In Retirement
1. It’s What You’ve Worked and Saved For
Retirement or even semi-retirement is what you’ve worked and saved for. Possibly even for decades. Previous generations typically worked until they couldn’t and then “took it easy” in the rocking chair on the porch. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I picture for myself! I have more adventure in mind.
Roger Whitney from the podcast, “The Retirement Answer Man Show”, talks of retirement consisting of the Go-Go years, the Slow-Go years and the No-Go years. Right now I’m in my Go-Go years, and I want to make the most of them.
2. It Keeps Your Mind Sharp And Your Body Moving
One important aspect of retirement is to keep your mind sharp and your body moving. The fitness of our mind and body is important throughout our life, but especially as we age. It becomes our new “job.”
The process of planning a trip or adventure stretches your brain. This may sound a bit cheesy, but the task of planning your route, timing, lodging and excursions can take some brainpower! As you experience new sights, sounds, history or cultures, use your brain. Learn as much as you can. Take it all in.
Move your body with your experiences. Walk, cycle, hike, zip-line, 4-wheel, horseback ride, kayak or ski. Try something you’ve never done. Then shock your kids with your new skill!
3. A Chance To Do Things You Didn’t Have Time For Before
You may not have had time during your working career to have adventures. Even if your job includes travel, it’s hard to enjoy it when you have a schedule to meet.
The last 5 years of Stephen’s career required traveling to a city on the east coast every 2 weeks. Did he enjoy the rich history of the city or the beauty of the countryside? Not really.
Now that we are retired, we have time to visit new places. Last fall, we took a tour through the southern Colorado towns of Durango, Silverton and Ouray. There were trails to hike and waterfalls to see.
We also enjoyed one of our favorite incognito activities. We were at an outdoor restaurant admiring the view and observed a family of 4 nearby. Parents and 2 tweens. We noticed the family engaging in conversation. No cell phones and no arguments. How refreshing. We were so impressed, we anonymously paid their check.
What Kinds of Retirement Adventures Can You Have?
1. Enjoy Things You Already Love
Do you already have a hobby you love? Maybe you ski and have your own gear, or camp and have an RV. Maybe you enjoy meeting others with the same hobby or interest.
Do you have a skill? You can use it in a volunteer role. You could help build houses for Habitat or read to kids at your local elementary school. Deliver for Meals on Wheels or teach Sunday School.
Retirement gives you the opportunity to spend time on things you already love and do them bigger and better.
2. Try Something New
Having more time can give you the chance to do something entirely new. Learn a language or learn to horseback ride. You could try surfing or learn to knit. Heck, you can even learn to drive a race car! (Someone I know does that!)
Add some spice to life by trying new things. If you try it and you don’t like it – try something else!
3. Learn a New Skill
When most people think about what they want to do in retirement, travel is at the top of the list. There are so many places and experiences waiting for you out there!
Travel is big on my list, also – sights to see and cultures to experience.
But having adventures doesn’t always mean going to an exotic destination. You may want to work on skills. Either hone skills you already possess or try something new. You could try your hand at woodworking or learn to sew. Work on your handyman skills with the DIY projects around the house. Learn to be a gourmet cook or help maintain hiking trails in your area.
You can do anything that interests you and that fits your budget. A lot of adventurous choices don’t cost anything but your time and determination.
4. Include Your Spouse
Include your spouse in your thought process. Talk to them about what you are dreaming of and ask them the same thing. Your adventures can be double the fun when done together.
But keep in mind you don’t have to do everything together.
It’s healthy to have your own activities and interests. Stephen and I do most hobbies together. We snow ski, sail and drive our racecars together, but I also enjoy quilting and Ladies Bible Study. He likes to do a little woodworking and work in the garage on the cars.
Our First Retirement Trip
I have always wanted to take at a vacation that had extra time built in. The kind where you could stop at a random site and explore without being in a rush. You know, that sign that says Biggest Ball of String.
My life has rarely afforded those kinds of opportunities. But now I’m finally here. My first chance for a relaxed and adventurous vacation. It’s my BBOS Tour of 2021. (Big Ball of String)
- 20 days
- 4,500 miles
- 1 State Park
- 3 National Parks
- 2 National Monuments
- 1 National Recreation Area
- 45 Texas friends/family/neighbors visited
- 1 wedding
Stephen and I started with a 10 day swing through Texas where we used to live. We spent all 10 days visiting family and friends. Then we headed to Utah for a wedding. After the wedding, we were free to do what we wanted when we wanted.
We visited Snow Canyon State Park and three National Parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Parks. We also drove through Grand Staircase-Escalante and Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments and Glen Canyon Dam Recreation Area.
Each was beautiful and so different. I’ll give you just a taste of each major park.
Snow Canyon State Park
This park is located 10 miles NW of St. George in southwestern Utah. It is a small park with several hikes and a few picnic areas. There are ribbons of volcanic rock running through the area. The volcanic rock created a “tube” as it flowed and cooled. Most of the tube has collapsed, but there are a couple of areas where you can climb down into the tube.
Zion National Park
Zion is 47 miles NE of St. George, Utah. Layers of limestone, mudstone, sand and shale create colorful layers in sheer cliff faces above the Virgin River. In Zion, you drive through the canyon floor and your view is up.
North of Zion, rain from the 11,000 ft. high Colorado Plateau slices Zion’s soft layers and pushes debris off the southern edge of the plateau. This edge steps down in a series of cliffs creating the Grand Staircase. Above Zion, topping the staircase is Bryce Canyon. Below Zion is Grand Canyon, the lowest rung of the staircase where 90% of the Colorado Plateau waters run.
We hiked Angel’s Landing which is the most popular hike in the park. Angel’s Landing is a 5 mile round trip with about 1,500 ft of elevation gain, including a section with 21 switchbacks. It is a strenuous hike, but totally worth it. I am in good physical shape, but I did have to stop many times to “admire the view.”
Angel’s Landing is known for the narrow section at the very top. The final half-mile is traversed with the aid of chains bolted into the rock. It’s not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights. I’m told it’s worth it – I did NOT see it firsthand! I stopped at Scouts Lookout right before the last narrow section. It provides great views, plenty of flat areas to stop and have a snack and restrooms.
The small town of Springdale is located at the park’s southern entrance. There are many towns in the general area large enough to have regular grocery stores and restaurants. The lodging was a mix of hotels, motels and small inns. We stayed in a hotel in Hurricane, Utah with free breakfast, a pool and on-site laundry.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Next, we went to Bryce Canyon, and the drive out the north side of Zion on the way to Bryce is beautiful. Bryce is only about 150 miles NE of Zion but looks totally different. Unlike Zion, here you are on top of the canyon looking down. The main road through Bryce follows the length of the canyon. There are several lookouts where you can stop and view the canyon and the unusual formations called Hoodoos. These are tall thin spires of soft rock topped with harder rock. There are hoodoos on every continent, but Bryce has the largest concentration found anywhere on Earth. The hoodoos often create windows, doorways and arches.
There are trails that take you down into the canyon and give you a different view than the one from above. If you visit here, I would recommend at least one of these hikes.
There is not much of a town around Bryce Canyon. We stayed in Tropic, Utah. Instead of hotels and motels, most of the lodging is small cabins. Ours was simple but clean. There are a few restaurants in the area and a small grocery store. Our accommodations did not include breakfast, so we bought cereal, milk, plastic cups and spoons for our breakfast. We spent about $10 and fed 4 people for 2 mornings.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef was a bonus on our trip. We had a free day, looked at the map and decided a drive to Capitol Reef was the plan. I had never heard of this park and didn’t know anything about it. The drive from Bryce to Capitol Reef went through some widely varied scenery from painted desert to mountain forests of evergreens and Aspens. We stopped every time something looked interesting. Capitol Reef is located in south-central Utah.
Upon arriving at Capitol Reed, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center, picked up the map and some tips about where to go and drove the length of the park. We got out at a few interesting lookouts and then headed back to our cabin. It was a great was to spend a day.
Tips We Learned
Here are a few tips we learned. First, plan everything you can, but be flexible. We enjoyed our spur-of-the-moment stops as much as the “big things”. Like the day we drove by a German Bakery and decided that baked goods would be a good lunch!
In the planning ahead department, our research saved us from making a big mistake at Zion. We learned the only way into most of the park is by shuttle and you must purchase your ticket online ahead of time. These were very hard to get. We tried to buy tickets for several days before getting them. Luckily, our advance planning made us aware of this stipulation.
We also learned to check the map for other local options. Our day in the state park was not planned. We had a free day because of not getting the shuttle tickets for Zion. We looked for another option for hiking and found the state park.
Here’s a tip for your wallet. We used our Interagency Lifetime Senior Pass (National Parks Pass) for park entrance. Currently, it cost $80, and is good for all National Parks and a variety of museums and other attractions. Always ask before you enter a park. We have been given free or reduced admittance to parks that were not listed anywhere, so we’ve learned to always ask. This pass is good for the pass holder’s lifetime and admits the carload of people. The entrance fees for the 3 national parks we visited would have been $90. Any US citizen 62 or over can purchase the pass and purchase can be made at any park entrance gate.
General Cost Breakdown
|State Park Entrance||$10|
|Per Day Cost||$97.35|
|Average steps/day in the parks||15,030|
Key Takeaway – Having an adventurous retirement is totally possible for you. No matter how constrained your time and flexibility have been, your future can be whatever you make of it.
Assignment – Think about what you want your retirement to look like. Do you want to travel, learn a new skill, fine-tune your current hobby or just spend time with the grandkids? Give yourself permission to dream and write down your thoughts. If you’re married, do this with your spouse.
Coming Soon – Saving Money!
I would love for you to leave a comment about what kinds of adventures you’d like to have in retirement.
What a wonderful trip, Becky! I’ve been to Zion and Bryce Canyon, but plan to go back soon. I had not heard of Snow Canyon State Park, but it sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing your adventures!
You’re welcome! I’m hoping to go to the other parks in Utah. I really want to go to Yellowstone and would love it if someone had tips for that one.
Nicely done. I would add: Don’t wait until you are entirely retired. If you can only take a short adventure in right now, do that. It will whet your appetite (and hone your skills) for more when the opportunity finally comes.
Thanks, Brenda, I agree!