Full disclosure- this was meant to be two/three separate posts on the various wonders and reasons to stop at each of these spots but time has been nipping at my heels rather viciously this past week and so it’s all been condensed into this one probably very lacking post.
Artists Drive, Devils GolfCourse and Devils Cornfield
I have to admit that the last two are my most favorite named spots in the park, though Artist Drive does win the spot of most worth going out of your way to visit. We left Badwater Basin and went to gaze out across the crumpled earth that is Devils Golfcourse, after which we took the bumpy dirt road that is Artists Drive. The colors that live in the hills there are definitely worth the lungfuls of dusty air you’ll inhale while getting to them.
Devils Cornfield is right before you pass by (or stop at) the Sand Dunes and it’s worth pulling over to both appreciate the name and the way dunes start to slope up behind them, the landscape changing from one to the other without any real demarcation. And in between driving from the colorful hills to the cornfield most beloved by the devil himself, there’s a vastness of a diverse and quickly changing landscape to keep your eyes and mind engaged – as well as keep you from wondering what in the world you’re doing out here.
Sunset most anywhere is decently magical, there’s just that something about watching the flaming orb in the sky descend downwards streaking colors of change in its wake that is easy to be enthralled by no matter where you happen to be. Truth be told though, not all sunsets are made the same and while I had wanted to capture something magnificent for my last night in Zion, that just wasn’t to be the case. The previous evening had found me almost drowning in colors over the empty expanse of Hwy 12 though, so I couldn’t complain much that is one just wasn’t up to the same level. We picked a spot about 5 minutes from the South entrance to the park (the one that rolls you right out onto the quirky town of Springdale) and just parked the Jeep by the side of the road in a pull off and sat leaning against the hood while the sun headed down down down. We stayed until it was well and truly dusk and the deers had started to come out, wandering across one side of the road to the other, barely even noticing us. We packed it up when our eyes started to strain and there was something… very bittersweet about it all that I tried not to dwell on, this feeling that I would never get that moment back even if did this all again exactly the same.
We headed back to our room at the Bumbleberry Inn to tuck in early for the drive out towards Santa Fe and most importantly, Monument Valley the next morning.
P.S apologies for the lag in post times for anyone that was waiting for them, work has begun encroaching onto more of my time than I had expected- but I’m still here and will be posting as regularly as I can, while also planning more adventures to come in the next few weeks (a very prematurely planned roadtrip out to the Colorado Sand Dunes is in the works for anyone really curious) .
It would be a bit much if I said this park was like heaven on earth….pretty sure someone would flick me on the nose and say “hush”, so I won’t write that. But know that i’m thinking it very hard.
We explored Zion on our last day in Utah, on the day I turned 25. Which, was probably not the best idea because I have never had the best luck on my birthday, ever. And this day was no different, for a multitude of reason that I won’t get into because lets not drag this post down, yeah? I will say that as horrible as my birthdays usually are, this one was at the top of the list of not-so-bad and most of that was because of the bf’s unfailingly sweet and patient demeanor throughout the whole day and also, because of how beautiful the whole area is. It’s hard to let bad luck drag you down when all you have to do is take a look around and feel richly blessed to even just have eyes to look at all the splendor.
We stayed in the park until the sun started setting and then started wandering back towards the main road out to grab a good spot.
I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places, and been witness to more amazing views than I could recount….so believe me when I say that Bryce Canyon is worth a spot in most anyone’s top ten. Not just because of the amazing geological features that are unique to this park, or the particularly bright stain of color on the land that feels more vivid here than anywhere else, or even the way that the land builds on itself for miles and miles as far as you can see through the crisply clean air.
No, I would say what places it in my top ten list of anything worth seeing again before I die, is the way the land and sky complement each other in the best of ways. Its hard to describe, and these photos don’t do it justice, but there is this sense of….wholeness, or completeness, that just covers this whole expanse of land. The way the skies roll over the earth, and you feel like you’re almost standing outside of it looking down, this feeling of enormity without feeling dwarfed by it, just standing at an overlook gazing out at the miles and miles of land in front of you and tilting you head back just a bit and seeing the sky stretch out even further, the clouds pillowed on top of each other and slowly racing towards the horizon.
Me and the boyfriend both agree that Bryce (as well as Zion and most of Utah in general honestly) is worth a second visit and while my next post will be about a different kind of beauty that we found on Hwy 12, Bryce Canyon is fully cemented in my heart as a favorite.
I got the idea to take a roadtrip out there like I usually do, by messing around on google maps and clicking around. I’d like to think this is somewhat akin to unfolding a large map on a car hood to pick your next destination, but with the technological advantage of getting to see photos of where you’re going. Photos will only ever tell you so much, but I liked what I saw and so I roped the boyfriend into coming with on what turned out to be the rainiest weekends of May. We drove up through the quiet nothingness that is Northern Texas after a certain point, across the muted landscape of Oklahoma that only lights up with casino lights and billboards for said casinos, into the stomach churning green hill-roads of Arkansas.
We arrived near midnight in Eureka Springs, the muggy air beating down our lungs and the pattering of gentle rain falling on our heads. Well shit, I remember thinking, I hope it doesn’t rain too hard tomorrow. Sometimes i’m lucky and sometimes luck just slaps me in the face with a wet fish, but waking up that next morning was like waking up to a pot of gold. Sun shining down blazing hot, birds singing like no one’s business and everything looking pretty as a picture.
We’d already made plans to go check out the massive Jesus Christ of the Ozark’s statue (oh yes, it was exactly as fascinating as you’d think),finding the Thorn Crown Chapel (which turned out to be literally the most beautiful church i’ve ever been in, perhaps even counting St. Patricks Cathedral) and taking another mini road trip up through Missouri, so we didn’t plan to spend much time in the city center that day. But as we were leaving town, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful train behind green trees and just had to stop to explore more.
I don’t know what it is about me and old trains, not to mention my apparently depthless obsession with abandoned buildings covered in greenery, but I got a good fill of both that morning. It did end up raining like a bowl of water upended over the earth, but at least I got a sunny morning and afternoon that day.