Zion National Park ~

I first saw Zion Canyon as a child, and it remains the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. When my companion and I arrived in early May, though, the weather was rainy and foggy, with clouds obscuring all but the very bottom of the canyon. It was still beautiful, with many flowers blooming, the just-leafed-out trees along the Virgin River a tender, bright green, and the red rock of the canyon walls backdropping everything.

The next morning we took the shuttle up the canyon (due to its popularity, this park has been forced to limit vehicles on the canyon drive for all but the winter months).  As the day went by the clouds gradually lifted, but the sky remained mostly gray. We walked the Riverside Walk, a paved trail along the Virgin River, down to the The Narrows, where the river becomes the “trail” because the canyon walls are only about 20 feet apart. The Narrows was off-limits this day due to the high water; hikers sometimes die in this wilderness area because of flash flooding and swift currents. Toward sunset we hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail at Zion’s southeast corner. Without my companion’s help up and down the steep, rocky path, which was sandy, damp, and slick, I could never have made this hike. The view rewards the effort.

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Along the Sevier River ~

Turning to tourist shots now: On our first full day in Utah, we stopped for a picnic lunch north of Marysdale, Utah, on U.S. 89, which runs along the Sevier River at this point. We were on our way south to Zion National Park. Over the next four days we would do brief (very brief) tours of the five national parks in southern Utah. They were thronged with other tourists, but we had this picnic spot to ourselves, and it was sweet listening to the little river rush by.

Salt Valley ~

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The colors in the soil make this landscape view at Arches National Park into an abstract. I turned a rectangular shot into a square in order to crop out two far-off bits of roadway, which were barely noticeable but which I thought detracted from the abstract effect. I didn’t add any saturation, but I did oversharpen this a little to enhance the “dots,” which are tiny shrubs.