Now that Ken Burns has us ready to savor the wonders of a national park, I'll continue with more on Utah's.
Just because they are very high or very deep is no reason to miss Zion National Park or Bryce Canyon, arguably Utah's greatest attractions. Wherever you travel never give up on seeing a site you care about - there's almost always a Leveler way.
Zion, accurately called mukuntuweap - straight up land - by its Paiute inhabitants, is laced with steep, narrow trails for visitors who want to get up close and personal with its many impressive formations.
You don't have to spend 12-15 hours hiking "the Narrows" or risk life and limb reaching Angels' Landing.
If you stay at the lodge inside the park you can bring in a car. Better, take the shuttle. During the park's peak season, they run between eight stops from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Those are climbers midway up on that whitish ledge at the far right!
Tip: Bathrooms and shuttles are at the start of the Riverside Walk.
Better the paved path along the river.
Tip: To see the rest of Zion, take the shuttle and get off at every stop. Walk as far as is interesting and/or comfortable then turn around and go back to the shuttle stop. While you're waiting (8-10 minutes at the most) for the next one to come, talk to other visitors and find out what they think is worth the effort.
There's a lodge and shuttle here, too, plus ample overlooks for you to see the fancifully named formations. The "easiest" trail into those formations is Navajo, a 1.3-mile long trek I dubbed "the huff and puff" trail, that takes about an hour to hike.
Note: My knee replacement made it through just fine but my flatlander Florida lungs got quite a workout.
Start of Navajo Trail
What it does require is getting out of bed early. Very early, like before dawn.
Tip: Get dressed, grab a blanket from your room, drive to Sunrise Point and and watch the sunrise over the hoodoos. You can park quite near the railing.
The colors the formations change is beyond belief and very fleeting. That and the silence of dawn followed by the scritching sounds of small critters dashing about to feed before the sun wakes and warms up larger predators is something that will stay with you long after you've forgotten where you put the photos of it.
For more info, go to www.nps.gov/zion or www.utahnationalparks.com and for a full feature on Utah, www.wellswords.com