Naturally Beautiful

Discuss a piece of artwork that holds particular meaning for you.

Demanding to be looked at, the unique landscape of Zion National Park presents an imposing image of unforgettable beauty to its beholder. It may not be contained in the Louvre, but I consider it a masterpiece nonetheless. It is not that I do not appreciate great traditional works of art, but I have not yet found anything particularly meaningful to me within the walls of a museum. I find art in nature infinitely more spectacular than anything that could be created by an artist in a studio.The best example of natural art that I have ever seen was discovered accidentally by my father and I while we were on a short trip to the Southwest. Having entered Utah from the south, we noticed an odd-shaped building, which appeared to be a giant beehive, off in the distance. We stepped into what turned out to be the Utah Welcome Center. There we found a delightful older woman who gave us very timely advice for a driving tour of her favorite places around “color country,” otherwise known as southwestern Utah. One place she suggested was Zion National Park, and since we had never heard of it, we trusted her instructions would direct us towards a memorable experience.Entering Zion from the west, the scenery was much the same as the rest of southern Utah: orange rocks, green grass, and blue sky. With only thirty minutes remaining before sunset, we were advised by the national park toll collector to travel through the tunnel immediately so there would be time to see parts of the interior. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel provided an interesting link from the regularity of the surrounding area to the unexpectedness of the canyon itself. The mile-long tunnel had windows of rock about every 250 feet, all of which provided quick glimpses into the immense and spectacular scenery below. Upon exiting the tunnel, many yellow signs cautioned drivers of the steep, windy road ahead, but my father paid little attention to them due to the distracting view. Little did we know, a road known locally as “the Switchbacks” was a treacherous system of hairpin turns and steep grades, descending from the top of the canyon to the deeply set floor. The view from the top gradually improved after each turn on the road. The deep red, rust and orange of the rock walls were in complete contrast with the green of the innumerable plants below. The setting sun added another unique feature, as some of the canyon was in darkness, while other sections were still brightly lit. Deer crowded the roadways, and their outlines slowly faded away as the sun set, with all but their shining eyes becoming invisible. The deer did not seem to share my enthusiasm for the view, as they had taken their home for granted for generations.Although my experience at Zion was short-lived, it was very memorable. I seem to recall looking around during the fading last moments of light and feeling tremendous anguish. How could this place have existed for so long without my knowing of it? Why can’t I live here instead of Franklin, Massachusetts? When will I be able to return? It was difficult to put my feelings for this place into words, at the time, because I felt humbled and speechless by its grandeur. I know that somehow this place would remain with me forever, and absence from it would certainly cause my heart to grow fonder.I have been to the Grand Canyon since my trip to Zion, and it was noteworthy, but even its size and majesty cannot compare to that of Zion. Maybe it is because it was my first national park, my first experience with an immense canyon, or a combination of many factors. I do know that it was a life-changing evening for me, and it instantly comes to mind when someone mentions art of incredible beauty.

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