I wanted to see the National Parks from Southern Utah for a long time, the wide open spaces, the red, the lace-like delicate Bryce Canyon. I was slightly concerned  that hearing so much about it  I will be disappointed. I was wrong, and ... I was right. In a world that cherishes competition  and so many rankings manage too often to miss out the real value,  Southern Utah has no competition and projects a very distinct, unmistakable image. It is also one of the very few accessible places that allows one to disconnect from the noise of everyday life. I was not disappointed.

Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

It wasn't that Bryce was not picture perfect. In the right light, it was probably one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. But when I look back, it's not what stayed with me and made this trip memorable. I did not manage to connect with Bryce. Maybe because  being located near the road, it felt like a drive-by place, where you could get your piece of beauty and your soda, without getting out of your car. Or maybe because being so high, any hike made its visitors go down in the canyon.  Maybe because the lack of any sitting place around even the best views, made it very uninviting. Or maybe my expectations were wrong, and Bryce was supposed to be  just this 'view', a spectacular one nonetheless.

View of Zion Canyon from Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Unlike Bryce, I found Zion very inclusive, inviting, a very protected, well... magical place. It was the presence of water, the way the green and the red found each other,  the embracing position of the mountains, the wide valley, the numerous trails that took me to hidden canyons saving me from the heat or brought me up to unbelievable views, such  as the one from Angels Landing. Zion allows its visitors to slow down, get out of the cars, and just enjoy nature. It also rewards the ones that are willing to take the time and effort to explore its mountains.  Its beauty is less obvious, more subtle and more profound. And maybe that's why it stayed with me.

Kiva Koffehouse, Escalante,  Utah
The best was still in the unexpected little moments, as driving on unpaved roads, or Highway 12 from Bryce to Capitol Reef, with its change of color and light, the view of a lonely coffee shop in the middle of nowhere, stopping for five minutes to catch the perfect light, the orange red before the sun is gone,  the triumph of getting that perfect picture. And of course, the amazingly tasting food, perfect service, view included, at Cafe Diablo, in  Torrey.

August 2006


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