In technical terms, it means getting two for the price of one. And in this case, it’s even better than that because it’s two for the price of nothing. If you’re smart enough to acquire a senior pass.
Two of Utah’s more spectacular destinations are Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, both located in the southwestern sector of the state, and both within an easy day’s drive of each other. My last visit there started in Zion, near Springdale off Interstate 15. It is a wondrous place, filled with canyons, rushing waters and magnificent rock formations.
Originally named Mukuntuweap National Monument, the name was changed because authorities thought the strange designation might deter visitors. So it became Zion, a name figured to be more appealing to the masses. It was declared a national park in 1919.
The Navajo sandstone cliffs are so mighty they readily cause outbreaks of mortal insignificance among those who visit. On most days, the sky is azure, the winds are calm, the slot canyons mysterious, and the temperatures inviting.
Bryce Canyon is about 40 miles to the northeast and not quite as easy to reach. But once there, the scenery is so spectacular that I told myself I would have driven twice that far without hesitation.
The name is a bit of a misnomer because Bryce is not a canyon; it’s a collection of giant amphitheaters populated by huge hoodoos, which are sandstone formations created by continual exposure to frost weathering and steam erosion. One of the first Anglos to reach the place was a rancher who commented that “this would be a horrible place to lose a cow.”
There are walking paths from the rim to the bottom, but my favorite venture is a 37-mile round trip by car, with stops at 15 of the most popular viewpoints.
Now, about those senior passes. They used to be called Golden Eagles; now they’re known as the America the Beautiful National Parks and Recreation Lands Passes but seniors can ask for a Golden Age or Golden Access pass at any national park or monument. They’re only $10, last a lifetime, and provide free entry to more than 2,000 destinations.
And here’s more good news:
There are 16 Best Westerns in the area so you don’t have to worry about finding a great place to stay.