One step up the Grand Staircase

In Utah and Northern Arizona there’s a number of National Parks, which although, quite different from each other, are all interconnected.  Collectively they make up what’s known as the Grand Staircase.

To put it all into perspective; water trickles down from the enormous Colorado Plateau, eroding the rocks and pushing debris down towards the plateau’s southern edge.  As the water picks up and deposits debris, the erosion shapes the landscape, gradually descending like a staircase finally ending at the Grand Canyon.

One step up from Grand Canyon is Zion National Park, a landscape of immense sandstone cliffs rising up into a brilliant blue sky.

 Photo by Trevor Kleyn

Where the Grand Canyon is vast and boundless, Zion Canyon is smaller and somehow feels more intimate. Perhaps because we viewed the Grand Canyon from the rim and here we’re in the valley.

Trevor is down with flu and not up to seeing more of Zion than what we can see from the car.  While this is only a small section it takes our breath away.  We’re surrounded by rock formations and cliffs in shades of pink, orange and red, all combined to form enchanting textures and patterns.

Although mesmerized by our surroundings, we still manage to spot a few bighorn sheep, a first for us.   Trevor scrambles for the camera and scrapes together enough energy to get close enough to get a great photo.

Photos by Trevor Kleyn

There’s a scenic drive only accessible by shuttle bus.  Leaving Trevor to recoup in the car, I head off on the bus.  The route follows the crystal clear Virgin River, the lifeline to all that lives in Zion.

I hop off at one of the stops and gaze up in amazement as I watch a number of large birds buzzing a few rock climbers.  There’s a debate between a few of us as to what they are… condors or buzzards.  They’re too far for us to see but I bet the view the climbers had was out of this world. The climbers dangle, looking tiny on the colossal rock face.

The mystery birds

Can you see the tiny dot…it’s two rock climbers.

Today the cliffs of Zion stand still and proud, yet they are continually evolving, being shaped by waters that flow, ironically, through this desert landscape.

PS: Ring of fire

While staying near Zion we were lucky enough to be within driving range of Kanarraville, the sweet spot for viewing the Annular solar eclipse.  We joined thousand of other people there and with our eclipse viewing glasses had a magical sighting of this rare occurrence that was last seen in the USA in 1994. 

 Solar Eclipse photos By Trevor Kleyn…see more of his photos on Facebook at “Focus with Trevor”.

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2 thoughts on “One step up the Grand Staircase

  1. Great blog Janet. I am enjoying your trip so much. Utah & AZ are so beautiful. I’d have to go with vulture on the bird…no wing tags.
    Keep enjoying. I hope Trevor is feeling better.

    • Thank you… I’m enjoying trying to put our experiences into words…not always easy:)… Yes Trevor also thought the birds were vultures when he saw the pics. Unfortunately I didn’t have a long lens with me and bird photography, unlike Trevor, is not my fortei. To be honest that was my initial call but the other people there were all American and no-one called that so I didn’t have the confidence to call it …silly me! Either way it was great to see but hard to capture :)

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