Utah's Beautiful Landscape
Southern Utah's Magical Places
Earth is full of wonderful and captivating places. Our travels have taken my husband and me many places in the World. From Italy to Austria to France and all over the United States. All these places have been special but none compares to Utah. We have been visiting Utah for the last 16 years-sometimes several times a year. Utah's beauty in the fall, spring, summer and winter is as diverse as its landscape.
Utah's southern part offers many parks within a few miles. The two most fascinating are Zion and Bryce. There is a ritual we practice as we enter the church of mother nature known as Zion or Bryce. We must cleanse ourselves of the dirt of urban dwelling and clear our minds of chatter. We put on native music of flute and drum as we allow the mountains and fresh air to fill us with belief that nature can cure all.
You know you are in the presence of sacred ground when you enter Zion National Park, land of the ancient tribes. Signs of their once thriving existence are written on canyon walls. We enter at the East gate and slowly make our way through winding roads painted red while the sounds of our native music fills our car and spills out to fill the canyons much like it did when the Paiute worshiped these lands. If there has been a recent rain your senses will be filled with the sweet smell of wet manzanita and pine like incense at mass. Our celebration of Zion begins.
The native people of this red and fiery land, saw Zion as another dimension to the star visitor's world. Indeed the display of stars in the night sky makes you believe you can reach out and walk into the Milky Way.
The Church of the Ladder Day Saints claimed this land in 1858 when Nephi Johnson a missionary in the LDS was sent by Brigham Young to explore the area. The LDS apparently named many of the peaks and canyons in Zion because they are truly biblical in origin. Zion has Angel's Landing, The Three Sisters, Temples, and Court of the Patriarch which has the peaks of Issac, Abraham, and Jacob.
The Virgin River offers thrilling tube rides in late Spring and Summer when the winter's run off of snow fills the river with high levels of water. Tubing can be peaceful or exhilarating depending on the speed in which you float down stream. Zion also offers a "River Walk" on the Virgin River, where you can walk inside the canyon in the river and see sights you would not have the opportunity of viewing from a car or a trail. On a hot summer day, the Virgin River walk is a refreshing escape from the heat.
We move onto Bryce Canyon and its rocky and mysterious "hoo-doos". What are hoo-doos? They are the massive sculpted part of the canyon formed by years of wind and erosion. Native people, the Paiute said the hoo-doos were animal people who displeased the coyote who turned them to stone. We stand at the rim of the canyon and look out at millions of hoo-doos who resemble chess pieces or the facade of a medieval church. The longer you stare, the more you see. The wind whips around and a hawk takes flight over the canyon. It is so quiet we can hear the wind under his wings.
We take the hike down the canyon called the "Queen's Garden Trail" at the end of the trail we sit and take a break. Looking at the hoo-doos that surround us we are amazed to see Queen Victoria atop a tall hoo-doo! Now we understand why the trail was named the Queen's Garden Trail.
Traveling back to Zion National Park, we discover the lesser known other side of the park. Being people who love an adventure, we steer ourselves onward to the other side of the park before ending our journey for home and night sky viewing. We were not disappointed. This part of Zion is not as traveled. No tourist buses to avoid. The beauty is unreal. Red plateaus and dessert shrub in bloom, Utah juniper and ponderosa pine in fragrant glory.
We return to our lodgings to pour some sacramental wine and toast to the sky our love and appreciation for all things beautiful and awe inspiring.