Recently, I was fortunate in being able to spend some time (but not enough) visiting Zion National Park in southern Utah. I had spent a few days there on a hiking trip several years ago, but the park is even more beautiful than I remembered it. The natural beauty of this park, especially in winter when there are few people visiting, literally brought me to the verge of tears.
The soaring peaks, the turquoise water, the beautiful red Navajo sandstone and the geometric patterns of some of the rock formations are beyond description. My daughter and I walked a paved trail along the river, looking up at the blue sky and towering rock formations, and listening to the rushing river nearby. We didn't have time to do any real hiking, but our brief foray into the park afforded us some quiet time to talk and just be together. And of course, we couldn't resist taking some pictures, although no photograph imaginable could capture the awesome beauty of this place.
A couple of days later, on a somewhat cold and cloudy day, we returned to the park. This time we stayed in the car and drove through the park. There weren't a lot of places to pull over for picture-taking, but I stopped wherever I could. In one place, the red sandstone formed a variety of geometric patterns. Nearby, pine trees clung to the rocky face of vertical rock formations. How their roots managed to establish themselves on the bare rock remains an unanswered question. We also stopped to gaze upon the Checkerboard Mesa, whose white rocks were criss-crossed with vertical and horizontal lines that gave the mesa its name.
Utah is blessed with several awe-inspiring national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and others. I hope to visit these natural wonders in the coming years. The sheer beauty of the red cliffs is overwhelming. Spending even a few hours in this magnificent national park reminded me yet again how much I value the beauty and grandeur of nature, and how important the opportunity to spend time outdoors is to my mental well-being.
These brief visits to Zion gave me priceless memories, a feeling of renewal, a sense of being at one with nature in a place where cell phones don't work, and an opportunity to spend quiet time with my teenage daughter. The price of admission: $25 (good for an entire week). The benefits of spending time in the park: priceless. To learn more about Zion, visit http://www.nps.gov/Zion/index.htm