Our next couple of stops are in Utah with the first being Zion National Park.
More red rock but different from Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Each park we visited had its own distinct look and the rugged rock - different colors.
Our shuttle bus driver told us about the "ledge gardens." You can see one pictured below. Of course, my ears perked up when I heard the word "garden."
A ledge garden is a perfectly orchestrated little garden that can be found growing on ledges on the walls of these stone mountains. It actually looks like someone planted a nice selection of plants, but this little vignette was planted by Mother Nature. And, what a beautiful job she did!
You can see that Zion is still very much desert terrain but has a nice variety of drought resistant plants awash on the mountainsides.
Here's another ledge garden that we came across. I love the spiky little plants that are tucked in the center of the green shrubs and trees.
We stayed overnight in the City of Springdale, Utah which is nestled in at the base of Zion National Park. It is an adorable small town filled with adobe type homes and businesses. One thing that I really liked was that the towns near the national parks are small and completely uncommercialized. No McDonald's or towering hotels. Two story small hotels and mom and pop restaurants. I found this to be refreshing and wonderful!
We left Springdale on the morning of July 4th after we watched their small town parade. On our way out I snapped a photo of this apple tree growing among the plantings.
A closer look revealed two plants that I recognized because we can grow them here in Florida. The shorter plant in front is Russian Sage and the taller plant is a Chaste tree with its lilac-type blooms. It was a very pretty little landscape.
On Our way to Bryce Canyon City we drove through the Dixie National Forest where we discovered more RED ROCK. But, again strikingly different from all the other red rock we had encountered. This particular rock looks like a castle perched atop the hill.
We enjoyed 4th of July fireworks in Bryce Canyon City in - believe it or not - 55 degree weather. That was a first for me - 55 degrees on the 4th of July. All my memories of the 4th are hot and humid! These little western cities really know how to celebrate. The streets are packed and they play patriotic songs on large speakers during the firework display. At the end everyone hooped and hollered their approval. It was great!
The next morning we headed in to Bryce Canyon National Park where more spectacular views of red rocks and canyons filled our day. This park was one of my favorites. For some reason, the rock formations look like an ancient civilization to me. It is a much smaller park but its beauty is extraordinary and mystical in nature!
Those rocks look like they hold millions of years of secrets, and for the life of me I cannot fully grasp how all of this beauty was created, for the most part, by water.
A close-up photo of the Pinion Pine with its cones.
One final look at the wondrous towers and peaks of Bryce Canyon National Park. I do not want to leave but there are still miles to travel and more rock to see.
One last photo of Aspen trees with their beautiful white bark. I would love to see these in autumn when their leaves are golden.
We headed north to Salt Lake City with a stop planned at the great Salt Lake. One cannot drive through Salt Lake City and not see, touch and taste the Salt Lake. Here we discovered more rugged desert beauty.
And, of course, a dip - at least ankle deep - in the salt water. The only marine life is Brine Shrimp because of the salt. We, of course, tasted it and it definitely is a lot more salty than our beaches.
The next morning we were headed to Wyoming along the Historic Pioneer Scenic Byway that cuts through the lower southeastern portion of Idaho.