We gathered our stuff from our beautiful hotel in Page and traveled north to Zion Park. We had a long day ahead of us, having to cross the Painted Desert. An expanse of dry land peppered with buttes of different colours remains of a forgotten era when violent volcanic activities had spat into the desert ash and lava that had solidified and taken different colours in contact with local ore. Red and arid, spotted with grouchy cacti and furrowed by soft and lonely mountain ranges, this is a beautiful and deadly land.
Here and there one could spot Navajo settlements. Small houses, poor by any standard, with three-four terrain vehicles in front and horses grazing nearby. Sometimes one could see sheep or cows and the rare deep wells, the only sources of water for hundreds of kilometers. It was by no other name a ghost country.
On our way to Zion we stopped for a couple of hours in Bryce Canyon. We left the bus and walked to the edge of the precipice. Bryce is the tallest on the Colorado Plateau—about 10,000 feet (3,300 m) and the view here was out of this world.
On the canyon’s rim, I couldn’t stop myself from asking the guide: “how anyone can think two hours are enough here?”
No words can ever make justice to the surreal beauty that Bryce Canyon is.
The mountains are made of crenelated and twisted towers. Pink is the dominating colour, lighter than Sedona’s red, yet a bit more overwhelming as every shape, curve, arch, shaded passage goes from a vivid and bloody wounded stone to a bright, serene pink castle crenels. It’s a fantastic landscape caught by a mad painter on the world’s canvas.
We hiked a trail down the canyon to a pink-orange pass through the mountain’s flesh opening into a small valley dug by a whirling river, along eight hundred years old trees. Twenty minutes down, forty minutes up.
I could’ve stayed there, on the rim, and only watch the canyon changing colours with the sun’s movements for an entire day. They had to bribe us to get us back to the bus. “This is the best we’ve ever seen on this trip…” “Wait till you see Zion,” replied the guide smiling. “I can’t believe it could be more beautiful than Bryce.”
And we were back on the road, getting closer and closer to Zion.