Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Best Idea We Ever Had

Capitol Reef National Park? Seriously, who knew such a place existed? Okay, maybe you did, but I was oblivious until now.

Capitol Reef Natural Bridge hike.

Capitol Reef is the third Utah National Park we've explored in the last couple of weeks--and I'm now convinced that Utah is a national treasure.

Fremont Indian petroglyphs, about 1,000 years old (in Capitol Reef).

I'm no longer under the spell of only Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Yes, those three are fantastic. But there is so much more to see--and fewer summer crowds in other places.

Zion National Park is incredible. My favorite aspect is all the water. Get really hot on a hike or bike ride? Jump in the river! There are a zillion swimming spots. Or you can hike The Narrows, walking through water for miles--and stopping for a plunge in one of the many swimming holes.

The Narrows

Before leaving Zion, we drove around the back side into Kolob Canyon and took a hike with awe-inspiring views.

Kolob beauty.

Then we headed to Bryce Canyon National Park, first spending a night in Cedar City, Utah.

When we were checking in to the adorable Big Yellow Inn B&B, the owner told us a Shakespeare Festival was taking place a block away. And that night, tickets were two-for-one.

I'd had no idea that this festival has been taking place at Southern Utah University since my birth year, 1962. We had two choices that night and picked Sondheim's "Into the Woods" over Shakespeare (sorry Willie). Dave and I were amazed how the actors flawlessly sang so many complicated lyrics. Even though the play ran three hours, we enjoyed it. (Serendipitously, we discovered that the film version is being released this Christmas starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp.)

Bryce was visually incredible. I was Verklempt by its grandeur.

In Bryce, it's hard to believe nature creates such things.

This time of year, the weather in Southwest Utah is dramatic. Bright blue mornings often precede dramatic thunderstorms in the afternoons or early evenings.

Sunset, with moonrise, out the window of our room near Capitol Reef.

Wallace Stegner called the National Parks "the best idea we ever had." Indeed.

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