National Parks and Recreation

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Zion National Park, Utah.

Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. [August 2015]

In the pursuit of the foreign and exotic, sometimes we forget to explore the wonders right in our backdoor. This is the key motivation for our week-long tour of the Wonders of the United States this summer: a busy but rewarding grand tour of some of the best National Parks this country has to offer.

Yellowstone. The wildlife is impressive in Lamar Valley, off the beaten Figure 8 Loop Drive enough to avoid the busloads of tourists scaring away animals elsewhere. The geyser basins were impressive and different from those of Iceland; the animals were abundant, despite the glaring absence of grizzly bears and wolves; and the views of mountains and lakes were infinitely beautiful. But perhaps its reputation has become too magnetic and attracted too large a crowd of bus-riding tourists, somehow I leave Yellowstone with less than I had hoped for.

DNXB Artist Point Yellowstone Grand Canyon Lower Falls Waterfall dongnanxibei
Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as seen from Artist Point
DNXB dongnanxibei Buffalo Crossing Road Lamar Valley Yellowstone National Park Wyoming
Mother and child buffalo crossing the narrow road cutting across Lamar Valley
DNXB dongnanxibei Grand Prismatic Spring Photographer sunset boardwalk geyser
Photographer setting up for sunset photos on the boardwalk of Grand Prismatic Spring
DNXB Squirrel Norris Geyser Basin dongnanxibei
A curious squirrel comes up close to the camera at Norris Geyser Basin

Grand Teton. Nature is beautiful – that’s the key takeaway from the beautiful Teton Mountains. From the famed Moulton Barn against the backdrop of snow-tipped peaks to the pleasant hike around Jenny Lake, a sense of accessible wilderness surrounds the visitor, beckoning him closer with each step.

DNXB dongnanxibei Grand Teton Field Mountain View Flowers
Gazing out at the Teton Mountains from Elk Ranch Flats Turnout
DNXB dongnanxibei Grand Teton Natioal Park mountain peak clouds lake
Teton Mountains peaking through the clouds behind Jackson Lake
DNXB dongnanxibei Moulton Barn Mormon Row Grand Teton National Park
One of several famous Moulton Barns at Mormon Row, with the Teton Mountains in the backdrop
DNXB dongnanxibei Scarf Wave Grand Teton National Park Mountain Sunset Wyoming
Waving goodbye to the Tetons during sunset at Jackson Lake Lodge

Zion. Photographs are, in this rare occasion, unable to capture the true beauty of Zion, my now-favorite National Park. At night I have seen the Milky Way with my naked eyes for the first time, while a herd of deer quietly grazed nearby. An early 6AM hike up Angel’s Landing is rewarded with incredible sunrise views and superman-esque photo opportunities. Treading through the narrows in the afternoon shields the hiker from the scorching sun – just don’t drop that DSLR of yours in the stream below.

DNXB dongnanxibei Angel's Landing switchback hike trail difficult Utah Zion National Park
The arduous climb up switchbacks to the summit of Angel’s Landing
DNXB dongnanxibei Narrows Hike Sunlight River Zion National Park Utah
Hiking in sometimes-ankle deep, sometimes-knee deep waters of the Narrows
DNXB dongnanxibei Angel's Landing Zion National Park Hike Climb Utah
Summiting Angel’s Landing at 7AM in the morning, on top of the world
DNXB dongnanxibei Zion National Park Canyon Valley Utah sunrise light
Magical colors of Zion Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon. The below photos should provide an all-encompassing verdict of whether or not this is worth a 2-hour drive down from Zion for a visit. Book with Ken’s Tours for the most direct access and knowledgeable guides.

DNXB dongnanxibei Antelope Canyon colors Indian Ken's Tours Page Arizona AZ
Surreal curves and natural sunlight inside Antelope Canyon
DNXB dongnanxibei Antelope Canyon colors Indian Ken's Tours Page Arizona AZ Indian Chief
“Indian Chief” formation in Lower Antelope Canyon
DNXB dongnanxibei Antelope Canyon colors Indian Ken's Tours Page Arizona AZ Three Tri Colors Sun Amazing
The way these Antelope Canyon walls play with natural sunlight is a delightful mystery
DNXB dongnanxibei Horseshoe Bend Scarf Wave Arizona Page AZ
A desert moment of solitude, next to Horseshoe Bend

Bryce Canyon. Bizarre; surreal; uncanny. Whatever word you choose to describe these twisted and funny-looking hoodoo columns, it is a startling reminder to yourself that these shapes have been fashioned by nature. Perhaps it is our perception of what is natural that requires re-shaping.

DNXB dongnanxibei Navajo Loop Trail Hike Bryce Canyon National Park Utah UT gap canyon sky
The gap in between, as seen while hiking Navajo Loop into Bryce Canyon Ampitheater
DNXB dongnanxibei hoodoo Navajo Loop hike trail Nikon Bryce Canyon photography
Photographer against the World
DNXB dongnanxibei Bryce Canyon National Park Utah UT Jump Jordan Navajo Loop hike
Air Jordan? As seen near the end of Navajo Loop Trail
DNXB dongnanxibei Bryce Canyon National Park Thor's Hammer Navajo Loop hike clouds sun canyons hoodoo
Thor’s Hammer standing out among smaller hoodoos and tranquil clouds

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”  ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

2 thoughts on “National Parks and Recreation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s