Discovering Hidden Gems in Utah with Summer Murdock

Joy, honesty, passion, introspection… Summer Murdock brings a variety of skills to the table with her photography, and nowhere is it more evident than when she is photographing her own children. Today, Summer offers us a glimpse into a unique and memorable adventure that her family had this past summer.


What is important to you about traveling with children? Is there anything you focus on, deliberately do- or don’t do-, or consistently work to include?

We don’t usually travel far from home. Most of our vacations are within a 12-15 hour drive. I have four kids so flying gets expensive really fast. Going places I have never been makes me feel super alive and excited about life so I have to make it a priority. Instead of making excuses about how we can’t fly across the world right now, I make sure we see all the cool stuff that is near us.  There are so many amazing things to see right here in the US that many people just overlook. I am always amazed when we go to National parks in Utah, It seems like most of the visitors are from out of the country. I have had the experience where I felt like I was the only American around.

It is super important to me to teach my kids how much more rewarding experiences are, vs. things. Our culture is so obsessed with consumer-based activities yet these kinds of things always tend to leave me unfulfilled and even empty feeling. The things my kids remember most from our summer activities are always the cool experiences we had and not that time we went out to dinner, shopping, or even to the movies. Don’t get me wrong, we do all of these activities sometimes too but they usually aren’t all that memorable and definitely don’t teach my kids life lessons. Being outside in nature can really help to build kids self-confidence, and teaches them about their limits. Going on hikes that are not always physically easy teaches them that they are capable of doing hard things and that the reward at the end of hard work is worth it. It also fosters creativity and exploration…I could go on and on.

Traveling is important to me period. Of course kids add some challenges. For me I just let go and know I have to be flexible. There will be highs and lows… moments where I question why I even leave the house but NEVER have I gone on a trip and regretted it. The good experiences seem to always outweigh the bad.

-Please tell us a little about this outing in particular. How did it come to be? Where did the idea come from?

This was a typical summer afternoon. My kids’ friends were not around and I had been working on the computer a good chunk of the morning. They were all complaining and moaning about being bored so on a whim I told them to get their swimsuits on. I had heard of these hot springs a few months back from a friend. It was on our summer bucket list to visit them but they were not close (2 hour drive one way) so we hadn’t found the time to do it yet. There was not much planning involved. I just recognized that this was a good time to actually DO IT instead of just thinking about it. So I grabbed my Fuji x100t, loaded my Mark iii in my underwater housing, and threw them in the front seat of my car. I grabbed towels, floats, goggles, and my kids- of course- and took off. Sometimes you just have to quiet all the voices in your head that tell you why now isn’t a good time…usually they are just silly excuses.

-Any advice for parents looking to instill a love of nature and a sense of adventurousness in their own kids?

My best advice would be to just do it! My kids don’t all jump for joy every time I tell them what we are going on one of our adventures. Sometimes I am met with moans and groans….but… almost every single time that I ignore those complaints and do it anyways, by the time we get in the car to go home they are all saying things like “thanks for taking us Mom. That was so much fun.” If you give your kids these experiences on a regular basis, there is no way that they won’t fall in love with the outdoors. I think an appreciation for the majesty of nature is in every human being but it’s something that might take time to develop. Some kids might take longer to fall in love with it than others. Some will have more fear of it than others, but make them push through their fears. That is where the magic happens in all aspects of life….you HAVE to push though.

Also, I am super lucky to live in a place that has amazing landscapes and endless things to do. But, these places I go are not just in my backyard. They are off the beaten path and often take lots of effort to get to.  These kinds of adventures often require doing some research. When we go out of state, I try to seek out the same kinds of places.  Adventure is out there, but you have to actively seek it.

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