We spent a very nice, restorative week in beautiful Kanab, Utah. It’s a small town in Southern Utah close to several national parks including The Grand Canyon (North Rim), Zion, and Bryce as well as Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
From Kanab, most notably, we visited Zion. With Jake needing to work some days, and the temperature climbing to an uncomfortable 100+ many afternoons, we were only able to manage one day at Zion. But in that one day, we gained a lifetime of beauty.
Going into Zion is like driving into a geological wonderland. The rock is mainly sedimentary: bits and pieces of other rock worn down by wind and water from their origins, then relaid together to form layers of deposited rock to where they are now. It’s been estimated that these layers formed between 100-300 million years ago, and then through shifts in the landscape by tectonic activity, thrust to their impressive heights. Then, they were further altered through wind and water erosion. The layers are numerous and consist of limestone, mudstone, siltstone, gypsum, shale, quartz, iron, copper sulfide, petrified wood, and volcanic rock; some of which are fossil-rich, both from plants and animals (including dinosaurs). The landscape varies in color, texture, pattern, height, and density resulting in a magnificently diverse and impressive array of rock formations.
In addition to all of that, there are plants and animals of all sorts including ~80 species of mammals, ~300 species of birds, ~50 species of reptiles and amphibians. We mostly saw birds, rabbits, deer, and salamanders. We were happy not to run across snakes, spiders, or other potential threats.
We spent our day winding through the gorgeous Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, hiking one of the more family-friendly trails and generally looking around at the amazing natural wonders. We gawked at the impressive rock walls. We pointed out the wildlife that we saw to each other. At one point, we had to drive a mile-long tunnel through a formidable rocky mountain, with which we were all very impressed. We ran out of superlatives. “Awesome,” “amazing” and “cool” were totally ill-equipped to describe our surroundings. We wound up mostly saying “look at that!” and “guys look on the left!” or “Oh my gosh – look over there!” Zion generally defies description and is best experienced in person. Please, get there.
On Saturday, we were fortunate to discover that the annual rodeo was happening in town. On our 2015 trip out west, we tried desperately to find a rodeo in Colorado, but it just didn’t come together. This time, we just stumbled upon it. It was a gift, and we were happy to accept it. The rodeo was fascinating: teams of cowboys competing to rope, drive, and brand cattle. There was an event called “mutton busting” in which cowboys / cowgirls in training “ride” (i.e. hold on as long as possible) to a fast running ewe or ram, and eventually get tossed off or more likely fall off. Finally, there was an open event in which all 3-8 year olds were welcome to get into the action by chasing a ram to grab one of the money or candy-filled baggies that had been taped to its body. This odd and amusing event was a huge hit with the little ones, including Eli and Lucy who couldn’t resist the invite. They didn’t catch him, but they had great fun trying.
For the rest of our week, we hiked in and around town (at one point – on a too long and hot hike, we were given water and ice from a very merciful couple), enjoyed the hotel and city pools, got ice cream, checked out the old western movie set and hung around the library. Oh, and yes, Jake worked at the hotel a good bit. Without that, none of the rest of this would be possible.