Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park in Southwest Utah is a wonder of nature. The name Zion comes from the Hebrew for "Sanctuary" or a holy place where one meets God.

Zion is a variety of climate zones surrounded by towering cliffs of color and majestic beauty. Carved by the Virgin River through the Colorado Plateau and Mojave Deserts, Zion truly is a wonder to behold.

To the right cottonwood trees line the Virgin River in Zion Canyon. The cottonwoods provide a habitat for wildlife and shade during the summer months when temperatures are often over 100 F for four months June through September.

The towering cliffs provide red, brown, and orange hues and their height leaving the observer wondering about the creation of nature and a Power higher than themselves who must be in charge of the grand scheme of this world and the universe.

Wildlife is abundant in the Park. This little chipmunk decided to pose for me while eating a seed or nut.

Moisture that seeps down from the snowfall of the cliff tops takes many years at times to make its way down through the rock to finally seep out through the Navajo Sandstone.

The results are literal hanging gardens. These plants that grow in moist microclimates throughout various areas of the park. Such sites as "Weeping Rock" provide some great scenery for Oases in the dry desert land.

The white tops of the cliffs show the beauty of nature and are less common than the reds and browns. These tops such as The Great White Throne suggest awe and majesty from the earliest inhabitants of the area, to the modern day tourist.

The conjunction of two deserts the Colorado Plateau and the Mojave Desert give the desert a variety of plant life. Prickly Pear, yucca, cholla, and other varieties of desert plants such as these juniper trees grow together in the park, whereas elsewhere they would be in totally different desert regions.

Volcanic rock shows that Zion's past has been anything but tranquil. Uplifts, advancing and receding seas, and of course ancient volcanic activity give the park its wide variety of geology from thousands to millions of years old.

These are some of the wonders of one of America's great national parks. Zion is in a desert, but offers so much more in nature, recreation, and reflection. It is a testament that miracles happen around us everyday.

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