|Zion National Park - Photo by Dave Webb|
Snow fell over much of Utah today, including our red rock desert country. A dusting of snow turns the red rock into an exotic wonderland of incredible beauty. Some of the most iconic shots from Arches, Canyonlands and Zion are taken at this time of year, when storm clouds shroud the rock monuments and a delicate drapery of snowflakes spill over the cliffs.
When snow if falling, the desert often becomes profoundly silent. The flakes muffle sound and, if you are quiet, you will hear nothing except the breathing of those in your immediate group.
As the storm clouds clear and night falls, starlight bathes the lonesome landscape. In many areas the stars are incredibly bright - far brighter than those that shine above city lights.
To me, solitude in the silent desert brings a wonderful spirit of peace.
And, at this time of year, the beauty of the scene reminds me of a silent, star-filled night in a different desert, long ago, when a baby brought peace into hearts - and the promise of peace on earth, if we could but learn to love as He loved and serve as He served.
P.S., Utah State Parks will conduct two guided hikes into beautiful desert locations on Jan. 1. One will take place at Coral Pink State Park, near Kanab in southern Utah, and one will be held on Antelope Island near Salt Lake City. State Parks personnel provided this information:
Greet 2013 on a guided First Day Hike, Tuesday, January 1 at either Coral Pink or Antelope Island state parks.
Coral Pink: Join us for a two-mile GPS hike on the History Hike Trail. This hike is rated moderate as we'll be walking on sand. Dogs are welcome, but must be on leash at all times. Meet in the Visitor Center at 10 a.m., and please bring water, snacks, and weather-appropriate clothing. RSVP requested at 435-648-2800.
Antelope Island: Enjoy this guided two-mile hike on Buffalo Point Loop. This hike is rated as moderate with an elevation gain of 600 feet within one mile. Dogs are welcome, but must be on leash at all times. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at Bridger Bay Campground Site #8. Please bring water, snacks, and weather-appropriate clothing. RSVP requested at 801-721-9569.
Snow Canyon State Park is perhaps Utah's best winter hiking destination and rangers there also conduct guided hikes open to the public.