Canyons of Utah: Zion and Bryce

Posted November 15th, 2006 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Seejo and I had simultaneous trips to the west coast for different conferences, Seejo to Las Vegas and me to San Diego . Since we both were already on the west-coast, I decided to stop over at Las Vegas and work from there for a week.

The last time I was in Vegas, I was a student & I absolutely loved the glitz and glamour…the excitement had paled this time around. Another disappointing sign that I was growing old!! But growing old had some advantages one of which was having some more money to spend than a grad student. And we spent it in the noble cause of propitiating our taste-buds. Vegas is the home of wonderful buffets, spreads that put ordinary buffets to shame, everyday and special dishes from several cuisines around the world. The Spice Buffet at Alladin, the salad spread at Luxor and Mandalay Bay and the wonderful crepes at the Paris made the trip worthwhile. The other highlight of the trip was seeing the Cirque du Soleil Show –‘O’. It was a fantastic performance, but the highlight was the stage that turned from a huge water tank to solid ground in seconds. The performance was excellent, a wonderful display of acrobatic skills. Most of the time I couldn’t believe that I was seeing real people do these stunts without the aid of special effects.

IMG_0997But despite these breaks, I spent most of my time in a stuffy hotel room wrestling with problems relating to work. So it was a great relief to get out in the open that weekend. The canyons at Bryce and Zion were just what the doctor recommended. To a person from the east coast, used to the gently sloping green hills and miles of greenery, the stark rocky landscape of the west had a different kind of beauty. The Bryce Canyon at Utah , is a giant amphitheater with amazing hoodoos –almost sculpted rocks formed by a unique combination of the type of rocks and the kind of wind erosion. The sunrise at Bryce was a spectacular sight as the sunlight lit the hoodoos with different light creating a multi colored wonderland. Some of the less strenuous hiking trails bring you close to these formations, some of them look like sentries guarding the huge canyon.

Inspite of the wonderful formations of Bryce, it was the sheer size of the Zion Canyons which left the most lasting impression during this trip. When we reached our bed & breakfast it was too dark to really appreciate the beauty ofIMG_0273 the mountains. But my first glimpse of the mountains , the next day morning simply blew me away. The small town where we stayed was at the foothills of the mountains, nestled between gigantic mountains on all sides, it seemed like we could walk over and touch the mountain on all four sides. The classic feature of the Zion mountains are the narrows or slot canyons: where the canyons between mountains are so narrow that at some point they are less than 20 feet apart. We did not really hike upto this point, but what we saw during our other hikes was impressive enough. It was peak fall in the canyons, the day was clear, the mountains were massive and the view stunning. The pictures and descriptions really don’t do justice to the beauty of these red rocks and the fun that we had.