Travel typically involves movement. A physical, material shift from one location to another that reveals the glory of this world. The vistas of the Alps versus the Andes versus the Himalayas. The striking contrast between the eastern and western banks of the Bosphorus Strait. The Pacific Coast Highway repeatedly taking your breath away with each successive bend in the road. But, sometimes, you can find a place that allows you to stand perfectly still and let the world reveal itself to you, with each passing moment your view morphing into something new and unique and never to be seen again. Bryce Canyon is one of those places.
The copper-colored sandstone monuments of Capitol Reef National Park were stunning against the sapphire blue sky, and we were in awe as we wound our way around the park's driving tour. That's the beauty of America's national parks — there are so many different ways to explore and enjoy them.
Perfectly positioned between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks lies the quaint and quiet town of Moab, Utah. While it's name doesn't conjure the same metaphysical tones of a Sedona, Arizona, or a Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania, it is a magical place nonetheless. Hiking, climbing, and photography pilgrims flock to its campsites for a taste of small-town civilization before, between, and after deep excursions into the wild backcountry that literally surrounds the town on all sides.
There are essentially three different ways to see Arches National Park and still get an idea of what the place is all about. You can drive it. You can short-hike it. Or you can really take your time and venture to some of the more remote locations.
Our epic cross-country adventure began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where we headed northwest through Nashville toward St. Louis, Missouri. When planning the route, we were aiming for as many national parks as we could hit on our way to San Diego and back, plus a few national monuments, state parks, and other sights along the way. The first of these encounters was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Completed in 1965, this national monument is the world's tallest arch as well as the tallest manmade monument in the Western Hemisphere. Plus, it's space-age cool.
We had taken some interesting trips before, finding the lost corners and unexplored regions that could be easily reached from our home base. But we were looking for something more. It was time to pull the trigger on a family vacation greater than a weekend getaway and experience what it would feel like to be truly gone, with the very real possibility of never returning.