Red, rock and Zion

Zion Canyon in the fall

Red, yellow and green

When my wife and I were contemplating our move to Las Vegas, Zion National Park, 150 minutes away from the infamous valley of neon, was one of the first “pluses” we scribbled on our refrigerator magnet to-do pad. We’ve been there twice before and its beige and scarlet monoliths and tightly-wound wooded canyons remained entwined in our minds as everything a national park should be. It became our precedent for all things natural, a searing hardscape of navajo sandstone, juniper, pinyon and cottonwood that people in the Southwest pay tens of thousands of dollars to have emulated in their backyards. And not one man-made instance of such effort comes even remotely close to the spirit of what transpires when the Great Basin Desert, Colorado Plateau and Mojave Desert collide in the southwest corner of Utah.

A number of months after our list of reasons to relocate had been acted upon and ripped from its glue seam like last week’s grocery run, we cruised off to Zion for the weekend. From a Friday morning to a Saturday afternoon, we hiked close to ten miles in the valley and along the high eastern rim, emptied a bottle of wine on the lodge lawn, watched a tarantula free solo a boulder, patronized four different Springdale eateries (all of which rocked), picked our own apples and drove home into a Nevada sunset that cooled the stark desert behind a filter of bruising cerulean and indigo.

A short, but long-lived trip. And the first of many.