As America marked the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and as the symphony of memory reached a crescendo, my husband and I were driving into the land of Zion. We were on our way from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, passing the national parks we love most and have visited many times: Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon. This time, sadly, we were on too tight a schedule to stop.
But there was one opportunity to let our spirits soar. We were traveling north on Highway 89, which passes the Grand Canyon and continues north between Zion and Bryce. Before we reached the entrance to Bryce, we turned west on scenic route 14 toward Cedar City. Halfway across the mountains we turned north again, heading toward Parowan. That road on top of the world (the summit of Brian Head is 11,307 feet high) passes through Cedar Breaks National Monument. The visitor center is open only June through October; for most of the rest of the year the road is covered with snow and impassable.
Cedar Breaks, a treasure we had never seen before, is a giant amphitheater 3 miles wide and more than 2,000 feet deep, with brilliant oranges and yellows and spire-like formations, as in Bryce. All we had to do was step out of our car and this glorious natural palette was spread before us.
As we drove over towering mountains and through fertile mountains, we heard on the radio the many expressions of love of the country and appreciation of its freedoms. For us, that freedom was manifested in the vastness of the continent and the magnificence of its natural wonders. We felt so privileged to be able to travel again through the land of Zion.
Text and photograph copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No portion of this text or photograph may be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Esther Hecht.