By Joan Larsen
Have you ever turned a single bend in a road, finding yourself so stunned by a scene of such beauty that you have felt a rush to your heart . . . or felt tears rolling down your cheeks?
The threaded road with its unexpected curves and pull-offs – pull-offs where we could stop and gasp at the extraordinary red rock wonderland of southern Utah – had us in awe around every corner. We had waited until now – Fall at its best – when the crush of travel had slowed, the weather had moderated into the cool of late September, and found that this was the most perfect time to travel to America’s west.
Utah has touched our hearts as few places in our world have. We found at times we had no words to say how we felt as we saw Utah’s geological red rock wonders, seen nowhere else in our world. Perhaps, we thought, our photos might begin to capture the beauty, the wonder of this beautiful world that lay before us far better than words.
Our beautiful introduction to Arches National Park.
A red rock wonderland of the world’s largest concentration of natural arches in the world lies in Arches. . . but Delicate Arch is its masterpiece.
Just off the main road south of Arches lies Canyonlands National Park, a natural playground of outcroppings chiseled into a never-ending scene of geological wonders, stretching forever.
Monument Valley in all its magnificence will always stand apart for me in heart and mind.
You can drive through but you miss so much if you do not take the guided tour that makes all the stops in the right places and tells you of its history. Perhaps you will recognize the John Wayne movie classics, portions of Indiana Jones, City Slickers II, and the Canyonlands location where Thelma and Louise took their final leap. Major Hollywood productions continue to be filmed in these incomparable scenic landscapes.
You hardly realize you are slipping over into Arizona when you leave Monument Valley, for the ever-changing scenery is too wonderful to miss.
Above are the slow-moving waters of the Colorado River, greenish blue in color and edged by thin strips of bright green vegetation, at a must-see overlook called Horseshoe Bend on US 89. The river, a gasping 1100-foot drop below you, curved round by 270 degrees, making it one of the most spectacular and most photographed places in Arizona. . . and definitely a “must see”.
Irresistible. There is no other description for the tour of Antelope Canyon, the most photographed slot canyon in the entire world. A single picture does not suffice as you have descended into another world of wonder that you will forever remember.
The world did not know about The Wave until a few decades ago. It still remains one of those hidden wonders of the Southwest to most, but if you are a really able hiker ready for a strenuous day, you will be scrambling on rock unseen in the rest of the world – a dramatic rainbow of pastel yellows, pinks and reds.
All of us who have explored southern Utah find that we are drawn back again and again. Truly the red rock country is not that far from our homes . . .
And yet, yet, it is a world away,
A world apart.
Let nature be your teacher . . .
—- William Wordsworth
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”