Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Utah for Levelers, Part 1

With Ken Burns' much anticipated series on our national parks premiering next week, I want to talk about Utah's many scenic wonders, including its national parks and monuments.

Tackling Mother Nature can require walking, strenuous and uphill, but parks, national and state, make it as convenient as possible. 

You can travel to Zion and look up at its scenic geological wonders, but you won't get close without a bit of a hike. You can go to Bryce Canyon and look down at its hoodoos, but its easiest trail, Navajo, is a real huffer and puffer in spots.

If you want to see Utah up close and touchable the easy way, do I have a park for you Levelers:

Kodachrome Basin State Park.

Tucked away a short jog off Scenic Highway 12 near Bryce, Kodachrome has a half-mile long, paved, handicapped-accessible trail that takes you through many of the state's geological formations and local flora.

The Nature Trail is self-guided; pick up a printed guide pamphlet at the trail head.

Tip: It's conveniently near the bathrooms.

The pamphlet will identify the purple soil created by iron oxide, a red sandstone knoll with pot holes, chimneys and spires and an arch in the making.

With it you can spot Utah juniper and pinyon pine, lead bush/buffalo berry, Indian blue grass, prickly pear cactus, yucca, four-winged salt brush, snake weed, princess plume, needle and thread grass, ephedra (Mormon tea) and learn what it all does to and for the environment.

You probably won't spot the porcupine, pack rats or termites, but the guide points out their work.

All in all, this is an intimate, human-scaled experience in the midst of incomparable
grandeur and bigger-than-imaginable geological wonders. I highly recommend it.

For info on Kodachrome, go to www.stateparks.utah.gov, for a full feature on Utah, www.wellswords.com.


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