Funny picture in Zion National Park

Tourism to me is very different from being able to stop and truly enjoy, experience and appreciate the area you are visiting. Living so close to Zion National Park, I guess I have an upper-hand in this. As with anyone who lives in or near a “touristy” area. I’ve been to Zion too many times to count, and each time I go I get something new out of it regardless if I have done the hike or driven the road before, I always catch something I have never seen before. Zion is a place of escape for me, a safe place I guess you can say. I am beyond grateful that I have been given the opportunity to explore this place more than once and really learn the value of appreciating something so magnificent, rather than snapping a photo and moving quickly to the next attraction and so on. Zion is such a huge park and every corner of it is beyond breathtaking. So I find it difficult to see anyone truly enjoying the experience by rushing from hike to hike.

Model Squirrel
Photo Credit: Melissa Erikson on flickr

This has really helped me when I visit places I have never gone to and experienced before. Why you ask? I can go to a new place as a tourist, and not feel like a tourist. I know that doesn’t make sense, so let me elaborate. I once had to take a long and excruciatingly boring and (mostly) ugly drive from St. George, Utah to Tempe, Arizona. Although at the time before I left, I didn’t realize that a portion of the drive would take me on Joshua Forest Scenic Road. Which is literally one of the most beautiful desert scenery I have seen. Driving through early June, the saguaro cacti were in full bloom, I was so captivated by the beauty I nearly swerved off the road from being stuck in awe at the view. As soon as I saw I pull off I pulled over and jumped out of my car to take a short walk through the forest and just basked in the beauty that surrounded me. No cameras or scurrying, I completely gave into my surroundings and took in all that I could in the short time I had there and then hoped back in my car and went on my way. There was no planning, photographs or rushing to see the next “attraction” but it is to this day one of my most cherished and favorite memories, due to the amount of detail I was able to witness. This to me is what differs me from a tourist.

I go to Zion and I take in as much as I can of what is surrounding me. Whether I am planning to stay there all day or I just take a quick trip there, I always try to stray from being “touristy” and scurrying, stressing and just forgetting why I am really there. To appreciate the world I live in and all its beauty. I see the tourists in Zion, and they are all rushing to try and cram in every hike and gift shops, etc. And I always catch myself wondering “are they even truly enjoying the beauty and scenery and fresh air?”.

Now I do understand that when you travel from across the country or even further like France or Germany, it can be overwhelmingly exciting and you want to experience as much as possible, and capture photos for friends and family back home to see, which is all fine. But try to pause for a moment and take it all in and truly ENJOY the experience and beauty around you.