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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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