Scenic nature and dinner cruises on Canyon Lake
My family of 7 (kids ages 9 to 1-year-old) took a scenic nature cruise on The Dolly on a hot July day and we loved it. The lake was beautiful, the cabin was kept at a cool temperature, and the whole experience was surprisingly kid-friendly.
All children 12 and under have to wear life vest according to Arizona state law. The life vests they provide on the Dolly weren't too bulky to bother the kids that much. They were able to sit and move around comfortably. Infants are allowed to have their life vests off while inside the cabin. We put the vest on our baby for a few minutes while we walked about the deck and she hated it, so we loved this rule. Inside the cabin is air-conditioned. You can see everything outside because it is surrounded by windows. Inside was where you want most of the time to be in the summer anyway.
All the seats around the boat are at tables. They even have high-chairs available. You cannot bring food aboard but concessions prices are pretty reasonable. We spent $5 for 2 medium-sized bags of chips ($1.50 each) and a bag of popcorn ($2). They also have bottled water, soda and alcoholic drinks for sale. There are a couple coolers with water and cups on the boat as well.
The 3-person crew was great. You could tell they wanted to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. The captain was also the tour guide. He made sure to slow down or even stop at points of interest so that everyone had a chance to see the geological formations or plants he was talking about. We were able to see petrified trees, numerous varieties of cacti, and even two big horn sheep. Some of the guests brought their own binoculars, but the crew had extras to loan and asked the kids if they wanted to try them. My boys mostly looked into the water and at each other, but they loved being able to use them. One of the crew members brought around samples of the different rocks the captain told us about including amethyst and petrified wood. The kids loved being able to see what the captain had told us about up close and actually be able to touch it.
Here are some other kid-friendly features we enjoyed on The Dolly:
*The high railings along the deck. The bars were close enough together that not even the littlest on could slip through, but they could still see out good.
*The bathroom had a changing table.
*There is plenty of room for restless kids to move around. Our older ones enjoyed changing their seats to a different part of the boat fairly often.
One warning-The road out to Tortilla Flat is very windy. If you or your children are prone to motion sickness, I would advise taking some motion sickness medicine before the drive. On a positive note, we did not feel any affects of motion sickness on The Dolly.
We had a great time aboard The Dolly Steamboat. The ride was informational and enjoyable for both kids and adults. I would recommend the scenic nature cruise to any families living in or visiting the Phoenix area.
Disclosure: My family was given passes for a Scenic Nature Cruise aboard The Dolly Steamboat by Visit Mesa for the purpose of review but the opinions expressed are completely my own.