Sunday, July 12, 1992...

As planned, today's drive started with a visit to Cedar Breaks National Monument, the oft-overlooked gem of southwestern Utah. It contains the region's most colorful rock formations: bright whites, reds, yellows, even purples in a three mile wide, 2,000' deep canyon, along with bristlecone pines and Alpine wildflowers. But gray was today's dominant shade: the beautiful formations were shrouded in clouds, fog and occasional rain. Oh well....

The clouds lifted as I approached southern Utah's next collection of scenery, Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon's landscape seems to have been imported from another planet. Its horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters contain eroded formations found nowhere else on earth: castles, towers, and above all thousands of "hoodoos," vertical stone protuberances which resemble platoons of soldiers standing at attention. Reddish-orange colors predominate, but mineral deposits have left pink, white and lavender streaks through the formations.

Queen's Garden Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

Conveniently, all of Bryce's features are accessible from a 17-mile (one way) tour road which dead-ends at Rainbow Point. Numerous trails lead into the formations, though with most of the park more than a mile and a half above sea level, walking them can quickly tire a sea-level native like me. Camera in hand, I hiked the Queen's Garden Trail. Then it was back to US 89, headed north through tiny Mormon settlements and through a driving rainstorm. Thankfully, the rain was concentrated in the southern part of the state.

Mormon Temple, Salt Lake City, UT

89 passes right in front of Salt Lake City's Temple Square. In most cities, this would be the center of government; here, it's the center of the Mormon Church. The Temple itself is closed to "gentiles" (non-Mormons), but visitor centers at the north and south of Temple Square offer guided tours of the other buildings and all the information one could want about the indigenous faith. I picked up dozens of "please visit me to talk about your religion" postpaid cards, confident I'd find a use for them...

The adjacent Mormon Tabernacle, home to the world-famous choir, is one of the most remarkable buildings I've ever seen: an 8,000-seat auditorium with near-perfect acoustics, constructed between 1863 and 1867 and topped with a self-supporting domed roof held together by wooden pegs and rawhide strips. Strolled past a few more historic buildings, then turned north once again, spending the night in Ogden.

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