Discovering Red Rocks Country
Nov 07, 2017
The American West abounds with dazzling natural beauty. Perhaps one of the most iconic sites in this stunning landscape is the Grand Canyon. Over a mile deep, more than 200 river miles long, and at least ten miles wide in the narrower sections, the Grand Canyon is a not-to-be-missed part of any western journey.
“You can see a hundred pictures of the Grand Canyon, see it in dozens of movies, and that still won’t give you a sense of the sheer scale or beauty of it,” says Phil Pesch, DISCOVERIES Director for the last seven years.
Phil has lived in the American West most of his adult life, and he’s been to the Grand Canyon more than forty times. Despite the frequency of his visits,
however, he is still captivated by the Grand Canyon’s splendor. One of his favorite parts of visiting the Grand Canyon with Country Travel DISCOVERIES
travelers is the sunset tour. A Park Ranger accompanies Phil and travelers on this tour, taking them to scenic spots in the canyon. As the sun sets,
everyone catches his or her breath.
“Sunset in the Grand Canyon is different than anywhere else in the world,” says Phil. “The sun is actually setting behind you, so what you’re seeing is the sun painting colors and shadows all along the canyon. Seeing this is one of the most beautiful things you can do on any tour.”
This dance of color—a time when deep reds, purples, oranges, dark browns, and dozens of other colors flit across the Grand Canyon’s odd rock formations as the sky above darkens—is something that keeps travelers entranced. It’s also a spectacle that differs each night due to changing weather patterns and variations in the light.
Whether travelers are watching the sunset in the Grand Canyon, hiking along the South Rim of the canyon during the day, or listening to Phil’s educational lectures on the geology and the history of the region, their eyes are always drawn back to the Grand Canyon itself. As Phil notes: “It’s impossible not to be constantly awed by the beauty and vastness of the canyon.”
After a trip to the Grand Canyon, travelers might feel like they’ve seen all that the American Southwest has to offer, but Phil notes that there are many other State and National Parks nearby that offer distinct natural beauty.
“I love introducing this southwestern, Red Rocks landscape to people who mostly just fly over it on their way to other places like Denver or Las Vegas. This part of the country is as close to wilderness as we have in the lower 48 states. “
On the Red Rocks Country Travel DISCOVERIES tour travelers see the sunset in the Grand Canyon, stay in a lodge in the park, and then head north from Arizona into Utah. On this part of the trip, Phil leads tours through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park (which is famous for its Capitol-building-shaped rock formation), Goblin Valley State Park (where squat rock formations very much resemble a horde of goblins), Zion National Park, and Arches National Park near Moab.
“Visiting the Grand Canyon and all these other destinations in Red Rocks country never fails to impress,” says Phil. “If you’re a Western person in your bones, it will speak to you on a powerful level. Even those who don’t mesh with the American West on that level find that this is a complete experience of nature, history, and grandeur. It’s patriotic because you really begin to understand the scope and scale of our country.“
So, join Phil this year as he heads out again into Red Rocks country for another season of dramatic sunsets, unique rock formations, and Western beauty that will stay with you long after you’ve flown home again!
By Jamie Pacton
Image credit: NPS/Michael Quinn
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