Zion National Park, Utah

We drove a couple of hours from Bryce Canyon to arrive at another beautiful National Park. We have to thank President Theodore Roosevelt for creating the US Forestry Department to preserve and protect our National Forests in the US.  Each has a natural beauty all its own. 

We have spent a fair amount of time camping in Yosemite, and this place felt very familiar, yet then again very different. Donna was laughing at me because I said, ” It’s exactly the same, only completely different!”  It’s similar with a creek running through it, lots of wildlife living in the valley, tons of pine trees and foliage, wonderful hiking trails everywhere,  and huge, majestic rock formations…the main difference is here, it is all Navajo red sandstone mountains up above, with some of the most interesting patterns carved into the surface from years of wind and water erosion.  

Sandstone with a checkerboard mesa.

The Checkerboard Mesa close-up

Sandstone Erosion

Driving into the Valley

This is a very popular park for rock climbing. One of the highest peaks is Angels Landing, 6,800 feet above the valley floor, named because it was so high that only angels could land there. 


Feeling small next to majestic Navajo Red Sandstone

The sandstone has horizontal cracks along its surface called springlines, which allow water to trickle down the face of the rock and travel across the surface, providing water to plants and trees to grow on the face of the sandstone. 

Trees growing on the sandstone rocks
Close-up of springlines running across the sandstone surface
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We wish we could spend more time here. It is magnificently beautiful. After spending a few days in these national parks, if you can, everyone should to get away from the city life every once in awhile. It’s serene and peaceful, full of splendor and awe, and puts you back in touch with a harmony for your spirit and soul. 

We are blown away by the variety and wonder of God’s beautiful earth. 

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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

We drove five hours from the little city of Page through the Red Canyon towards Bryce.  The topography started to change once again and we started to see juniper trees. So much of this area, once again, has been the setting for some of Hollywood’s most famous movies and television shows…Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Gunsmoke, F Troop, Route 66, all used these rugged rocks as their backdrop.  We started to get a hint of what was to come.

Red Canyon rocks

We finally arrived at the rim of Bryce Canyon.  With our picnic lunch in hand, we sat at the edge of the rim, just trying to take it all in.  

The rim of Bryce Canyon
It has all been sculpted by water and ice plus years of stream erosion of the river beds. The red, orange, and white colors change with the sunlight and the time of day. These knobby, weird, and tall spires are called hoodoos.  The Paiute Indians called them legend people, the early settlers in this area called them fairy chimneys.  Whatever you call them, this place is just magical and beautiful!  


Hoodoo Close-up

You can hike to the valley floor…it’s 1.1 miles down, which puts you meandering through the hoodoos.  Be aware tho, that the incline is 9,000 feet from top to bottom.  

God’s earth is truly amazing!  

The Grand Canyon – The Edge of Vastness

We arrived at the edge of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon today. As one stands here, one is struck by the canyon’s vastness.  Measuring the canyon’s width, depth, or length, you have to use words like one mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 275 river miles long.  You just have to stand at the edge and marvel at its enormity. We are minuscule in comparison, and no photo I take can convey the beauty of this place.  It is indeed breathtaking beyond belief – we could not believe what our eyes were seeing, and very time we looked again, with the change of light, it looked different.

The Grand Canyon at Sunset

The South Rim at Sunrise


We saw a line of mules heading down the trails. Oh, how we wanted to do that!  Only trouble – five month waiting list for the day ride, and a one year waiting list for the overnight trip…maybe next time.


We loved this T-shirt but didn’t feel we had earned the right to wear it. You’ve got to hike from one rim across to the other.  We were looking for the t-shirt that said “We Hiked To The Rim.”  Now that we did!


As we were looking down the trail,  two hikers were racing to the top of the trailhead.  Exhausted, the hung their tired bodies over the railing saying they had just finished their hike rim to rim!  It took them three days to cross carrying 30 pound packs.


They say that 75% of Arizona is either national parks, wilderness, or the middle of nowhere. We saw a whole lot of nowhere on our three hour drive this afternoon.  Most of it was Indian reservations.  I must be influenced too much by Hollywood but I was thinking tepees and Indians with fringe and feathers. But this is what Indian reservations really look like…a few tiny houses in the middle of nowhere with the closest Walmart or grocery store is about an hour and a half away by car. This really is living in the middle of nowhere for hundreds of miles in every direction.


That night, we saw dances by Navajo Indians…ok, they were just kids, but still fun.

Sedona

We drove 125 miles north today to Sedona.  Along the way we stopped to see Montezuma’s castle…a five store 20 room domicile carved into the limestone rocks by Native American Indians in the 13th-14th century. 

Montezuma’s Castle
Cross section of the castle

The community consisted of 1500 Native Americans.  If you look closely below the castle, you can see tunnels, hallways, and windows of neighboring rooms for other homes in the rock.  Over time, the limestone has become crumbly and brittle, and in 1952, they no longer let the public walk through. 

Our next stop was to the beautiful little city of Sedona.  It’s population is 10,000, increasing about 1% per year. 75% of the people work in the tourism industry in this quaint resort town filled with art galleries, restaurants and gift shops.  People settled in this area for the 5 C’s – copper, cattle, citrus, cotton, and climate. 

Sedona’s main attraction is its array of beautiful, red sandstone formations. They are just too huge to fit in my camera, and photos just don’t do justice to convey the scale and sheer magnitude of these mountains. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form a backdrop for many outdoor adventures like hiking and mountain biking trails.  They say there is an invisible spiritual vortex running through the the city which makes it a place for many spiritual retreats.  Can you imagine looking out your family room window and waking to this view every morning?!  It is truly breathtaking beauty. 



Snoopy Rock – can you see him lying on his back?

Canyon Tour 

We are off on a short visit to a few of the most beautiful natural sites in the world – The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park with Gate1 Travel.  We start our trip in Phoenix, Arizona, with a hike through the Desert Botanical Garden, 140 acres in Papagos Park, showcasing 21,000 plants, with 139 species which are rare or endangered. It has been designated as a Phoenix Source of Pride.  

The desert has its own kind of beauty….strange, dramatic, and prickly, yet flowering and beautiful, providing housing for many desert creatures and birds, and able to survive with a minimal amount of water.  

A rare cresting suguaro cactus
Rare Cresting Suguaro Cactus
Flowers in the desert
Suguaro skeleton
Nobody home at the Indian house
Making flour Indian Style
Flowers among the stickers