HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

May 21, 2007
Harvard Square Pictorial

Bryce Canyon

John Turner

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I recently visited Bryce Canyon in southern Utah for the third time in my life. Who knows? I may never make it back again.
Conditions there now are quite different from when I first went more than forty years ago. Then, we arrived in mid- April, to find the canyon ostensibly closed. But in those days we paid no attention to notices of that sort, and climbed down to the canyon floor and wandered around for most of the day. In several hours, we saw not another human soul, which was exactly what we wanted.
Now the canyon is more crowded and more regulated, which is to say that it has inevitably lost some of its charm. But it's still a wondrous sight and well worth visiting.
The grand thing, of course, is the color. It comes across pretty well in photographs, but pictures can't actually capture the power of being surrounded by rocks that glow  as though there were multiple furnaces inside. You can actually feel the heat of them coursing over you.
This time we again  climbed down to the floor of the canyon, a bit less energetically than we did earlier, but still with adequate energy to make it down and back. And the fine thing was that when we got to the bottom the feeling was just as it was in that April so long ago. So some things stay the same, or, at least, change so little they give an illusion of permanence, and that is a happy condition, one I'll continue to associate with Bryce whether or not I ever return.