The Majestic Yosemite

The Majestic Yosemite

When arriving into Yosemite National Park through the Arch Rock Entrance on El Portal Road, one is not sure what to expect. There were hints of grandeur along the way, but we were arriving at dusk and wanted to get to our hotel, saving the park overview for later.

We had booked the necessary “near to a year” in advance for The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, formerly known as the Ahwahnee, (the name given to Yosemite Valley by the Ahwahneechee people, its first residents. At present there is a trademark dispute over the name, which sort of explains the new Majestic identification.) First opened in 1927, it is thought to be the National Park system’s premiere hotel, not close to our usual choice for sleeping space, but it was our anniversary. Good excuse.

The hotel sits at the base of granite cliffs, and as large as it seems, it is small in relation to its surroundings. If you can force yourself to leave the dining room or patio, a walk to the river is a wonderful way to start the morning.


The Grand Finale

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Here at last. The Grand Canyon. There were many more people on the South Rim than anywhere else we visited during our entire journey (a large percentage of whom were foreign visitors), but the National Park Service does an outstanding job of managing both this enormous land mass and those who come to see it. We applauded the Rangers and other staff often for their friendly helpfulness, and thought park lodging and food services were amazing in light of the high traffic and turnover demands placed on them.

As was the case in all the parks we visited, all one had to do was wait a minute for the scene to change its color and mood. It is grand indeed.

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The Alchemy of Arches


Arches National Park is certainly about the world’s largest concentration of sandstone arches, but it is about so much more. You can find lost civilizations here; magic created from formations that allow you to see worlds only your mind can conjure.  If you’ve time, stay long enough to go back into the park at night when the moon and stars appear to light these stone monuments, and you’ll believe in alchemy.


Zion just around the bend…

We approached Zion National Park from its east side, traveling west from Mt. Carmel Junction, on SR 9. “Scenic” isn’t a fair description of the drive; “jaw-dropping” suits me better. Once reaching the park entrance, an additional 12 miles on beautifully paved red roads delivered us to the heart of the park, through land so indescribably foreign I could have considered myself misplaced to Mars. Watching skies that offered both threatening and gorgeous weather, switchbacks led us to higher elevations past rock formations of sculptured sand, and finally (after so many “what’s next?” moments) a mile long tunnel spilled us out into Zion Canyon. Zion Park was just around the bend…SBHc - 71SBHc - 198Zion_124_SBH_160522_MEZion_122_SBH_160522_MESBHi - 20SBHi - 34SBHc - 72

On the road again…

We are late to the party in fully appreciating the beauty of some of our western states and their national and regional parks, but now that we’ve been initiated, all we can do is wonder why it took us so long. There is little need to describe our nearly 2000 mile road trip in words, and in all fairness, photos aren’t even close to the real thing. May was a wonderful time to travel; there were fewer people than are expected to descend over the summer (this year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and demand for rooms and camp sites is huge), and the desert is in bloom this month. Even the few storms we met up with provided a gorgeous show. I have a ridiculous number of photos to sort through; I kept thinking I’d eventually get bored with the grandeur and the wild skies, but I didn’t. We started in Sedona, Arizona, and here’s a taste:SBHc - 49SBHc - 57SBHc - 61SBHc - 118SBHc - 16SBHi - 13