Eric Jay Toll

Eric is a reporter for the Phoenix Business Journal covering Economic Development. In free time, he covers the West--and other journeys along the way. Eric has been journaling about travel for more than 10 years. He is a traveler, camper, and accomplished chef--or fancy food dabbler, as the case may be. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Utah Slot Canyons: Little Wild Horse has family-friendly start

“Hurry up, there are a lot of people behind us,” said the mother while shepherding her children through the slot in Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah. “Let’s go! Don’t step in the puddles.” One group of exhausted Girl Scouts had just come through the slot heading downhill, the Boy Scout troop was anxious to head up the canyon opening just wide enough for a single file line. Everyone was ready to get moving up or down canyon. Little Wild Horse is one of the few family-friendly slot canyons in southern Utah. It’s accessible by a paved road, highly unusual...

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Grand Canyon (Arizona) below the rim: Ooh-Ah Point is a family-friendly hike

“They look like birds,” giggled my daughter as we rounded a rock outcropping and looked down on our destination another thousand feet down the South Kaibab Trail. This is as easy hike with the kids. Wide and smooth on the decline to the first breath-taking overlook, this popular Grand Canyon National Park hike takes us well below the rim and far out onto a deep-canyon overlook. Like a colorful flock sunning on the sun-bright orange rocks, hikers sit on the Canyon’s natural sand¬stone slab benches taking in the view at Ooh-Ah Point just above Cedar Ridge. The less than...

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6 Reasons Why My Lumix ZS60 Keeps My DSLR in the Closet

“Camera” does not give full credit to the multimedia, Wi-Fi-enabled Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 for all it delivers in imaging. This 8-1/8 ounce (245kg), 2-1/2 inch by 4-3/8 inch (63mm x 111mm) camera is capable of 18 megapixel still images and high definition, 4x video recording. This camera is simple enough to use it can be handed off to the kids or anyone to snap a photo. It has much of the versatility of a digital single lens reflect camera without any of the bulk. Lumix—light mixing with technology—is so versatile, I’m retiring my DSLR from everyday use. Here’s six...

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Winter Park Summer Is Colorado Family Playtime

In the quiet early morning hour, it’s almost like walking through a European village with the towering mountains as a backdrop and the chalet-style architecture of the shops and inns. Footsteps echo on the sidewalk as the coffee shop comes into view. The fragrance of fresh pastries and bacon fill the air. In the Rocky Mountain air, breakfast is the fuel for all that lies ahead through the rest of the day. Nestled high in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver, Winter Park, Colorado, is actually a Denver City Park, and it’s a get-away all year-round. Set aside the...

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Phoenix City Limits Don’t Limit Activity Options

Visitors to Phoenix, Arizona, have a major challenge when it comes to activities. It’s not what to do while visiting the Valley of the Sun, but what to do first while in the Phoenix area. This short list only looks at activities inside the Phoenix city limits. Phoenix is a 365-day vacation. In the joyously warm winter weather and even under the sizzling summer sun, there is something for every visitor. The best way to divvy up the trip is to decide whether to be active, easy-paced or luxuriant. Full information is at Visit Phoenix. Active Phoenix Home to...

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Three Ways to Experience Scottsdale, Arizona

Its days as the West’s most western town are long gone, but Scottsdale delivers a Western experience of urban chic and backcountry action. This sampling doesn’t do the Valley of the Sun community justice with its sampling, but Experience Scottsdale is the official city visitor website. There are three ways to experience Scottsdale. Enjoy an active lifestyle, night life and dining, luxuriant visiting.  Active Scottsdale Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve at more than 30,000 acres, is the largest city park in the world. With more than 100 miles in developed trails, the pristine desert park can be visited by hikers,...

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Why a Tucson Dude Ranch Vacation is a Great Family Deal

It was one of those steal-your-heart sunsets behind the Tucson Mountains as the car turned off the Twin Peaks Road black top and meandered up the dirt road to the welcoming gate and corral at White Stallion Ranch, a dude ranch and guest ranch, north west of Tucson, Arizona. The sky painted in orange, red, gold and purple was the perfect backdrop arriving for days of back-to-the-West bliss, as has been going on for more than 50 years at the ranch. The entrance is flanked by an array of international flags – one for each country represented by a...

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Dawn ignites Western Icons in Monument Valley

Welcome to Monument Valley, a Navajo Tribal Park in northeastern Arizona’s red rock country. Monument Valley is the backdrop to hundreds of movies, commercials and photographs. It is considered a holy site by the Navajo, and for international travelers, it is the icon defining the American West. The park is open before dawn, because one of the most amazing natural views on the planet is the sun rising behind the Left and Right Mittens next to Merrick Butte. Waiting for the Dawn It’s 20 minutes before dawn. The kids are antsy. There’s a chill in the air. It’s pitch...

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Arch Stands on the Edge of Eternity

Arches National Park offers unique sights to families. It is the largest collection of natural arches in the world. Almost all of the arches are viewable taking just a few steps from the car at parking areas and overlooks. Some require short, easy hikes. Others, like world-famous Delicate Arch can be seen from a parking area (an “underlook”) or stood beneath following a moderate hike. At the top of the trail At the end of a 90 minute climb across the orange slickrock of Southeast Utah, the rock wall on the right gives way and steps into the sunshine,...

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A Magic Afternoon Wine Tasting on Bikes

Western Colorado has a hidden gem of a wine country, and unlike some wine tasting areas, the vineyards in Palisade are so close, you can bike the entire wine tasting trip. Rental bikes are available in town, including electric bikes. The mix of wineries and offerings are as varied as the Colorado landscape. Palisade is well-known for its famous, sweet peaches, but the mix of farm stands, vineyards, craft brews and hand-crafted distilled spirits mix with great food for a delightful visit. If you sent the kids off to one of the Dinosaur Journey Museum all-day adventures, they just...

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