A Road Trip Through the American West

Cruising through America’s mountain region with Patrick Thibaudeau

Patrick Thibaudeau has been around the globe, having lived in four countries and traveled to many others. These days he’s sweet on the United States’ Wild West with its beautiful hikes and drives.

Countries already crossed off Thibaudeau’s list include Anguilla, Hawaii, Antigua, the United Kingdom, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. His job as a Luxury Retreats Villa Specialist has brought him all over North America too. He recently took his wife and eight-year-old twin boys on a road trip featuring stops in both Utah and Colorado, and can he can’t recommend them strongly enough to families looking for an adventurous vacation. Here, he shares his must-do activities and top villa rentals in the destinations.

Family Vacation Destinations

“We do a family trip every year—in the past, we’ve gone to Disney World, Smuggler’s Notch, and Cuba—and this year we wanted an adventure full of nature, mountains, beautiful scenery, and exploration. I’d been through much of Colorado and Utah on my own in the past but had never taken my family. This was our first western road trip. With my boys being eight years old, I thought it would be a good age for them to explore and I was right… they loved it all!

The privacy of the villas we stayed in was a great complement to the adventurous nature of the trip. We could let our eight-year-olds run around and make noise and, without any neighbors, we didn’t have to worry about them disturbing other people. That’s crucial for any family vacation!”

A Private Villa in Deer Valley

Bellemont Home in Deer Valley, Utah“The location of Bellemont Home is fantastic, and it’s quiet and private. In the winter, you’re set up nicely with direct ski access to Deer Valley right out your back door and Park City just a short drive away. Although we stayed there during the summer, the kids still used the ski access right behind the home to explore and play frisbee. The house was huge too! Huge kitchen, dining room and great room. There’s more than enough space for a large group to spread out. It was hard for the kids to decide where they were going to sleep as there was too much choice!

One of the coolest things that happened, for the kids at least, happened when the masseuse I had booked for my wife and I arrived at the villa. When she arrived, she told us she’d been in the home before to give Tobey Maguire a massage. She flipped this around a little and told our eight-year-old boys that she’d given the real Spider-Man a massage in this home. They were floored! I wasn’t surprised to hear this villa had hosted a celebrity; it was that good.”

Take a virtual visit of all our Deer Valley, Utah villas

An Ideal Day at Jordanelle Reservoir

Jordanelle Reservoir, within Jordanelle State Park, is popular for watersports, boating, and fishing. Just east of Deer Valley, it is the perfect setting for a fun family afternoon trip.

Thibaudeau says, “In the summer, be sure to visit the Reservoir on a hot day. It has nice beaches and tons of water sports to explore the lake. Get a pass to the Aqua x Zone so the kids can enjoy the floating play park with climbing walls, trampolines, and slides. I also suggest renting jet skis and ripping around the lake on those. Our day spent there was one of the best days of our trip.”

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Deer Valley, Utah

A Family Home in Avon

The Ascent in Vail Valley, Colorado“After four days in Utah, our family headed for Colorado and settled at our next villa. The Ascent is right at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, in the valley in Avon, making it a great location to explore the village. You can walk into town, to the supermarket, or to restaurants. The amenities include a games room with a billiards table shuffleboard, a hot tub, an indoor pool, and a common lounge area with a kitchen, dishes, and microwaves for dining. An added perk for guests of The Ascent is access to the nearby Westin hotel for its huge outdoor pool and the gym.”

Tour all our villas in Vail Valley, Colorado

A Scenic Drive on Independence Pass

“We drove from Vail to Aspen partially on Independence Pass, a well-known section of Colorado State Highway 82 that zigzags through the mountains and connects Aspen and Twin Lakes in Colorado’s center. It’s only open during the summer, as heavy snowfall and high elevation force it to close between October and May. We drove right over the Continental Divide and got some stunning views out of it, including the United States’ second highest mountain, Mount Elbert. When rain falls or snow melts on the left side of the divide, it will funnel down to the Pacific Ocean, and on the right side, it funnels toward the Atlantic Ocean. Near the top, at an elevation of more than 12,000 feet, we even stopped to have a snowball fight. We all thought having a snowball fight in July was pretty cool… literally!

Do the hike up to Hanging Lake which is about halfway between Avon and Glenwood Springs. It is quite the trek to get up there but well worth the view when you make it! It does look like it’s just hanging on the spot there. Every time we did a hike, the kids would complain: “Aw, not another hike!” But by the end of the hike, they would say, “That was so cool! Can we do that again?”

Read more: Fall in Love with Laid-Back Luxury in Aspen

What’s Next?

“I’m off to Jamaica for a golf trip in December, and Punta Mita, Mexico in January. As for the next family trip, Europe is on the list for when the kids get a little older. They also really want us to take them to Japan as my wife and I lived there for 4 years and we talk about it a lot. And one of my sons wants to go to New Jersey… not sure why… but that’s on his bucket list!

Photo Credit: Patrick Thibaudeau; Luxury Retreats