This is the eighth in a series of posts about my visit through parts of Arizona and Utah.
After leaving Zion National Park, our next destination was Bryce Canyon, which is about an hour and a half drive from Zion. We spent the night at a comfortable motel about five minutes from Bryce Canyon. After a delicious home style meal, we watched the sun set before settling down for the night. It was a quiet interlude before the next day's activity.
A forest of tall Ponderosa Pines provided a beautiful backdrop to the quiet meadow where horses grazed in the fading light. Ponderosa Pines grow in mountain elevations of 3000 to 9000 feet and can grow over 200 feet tall. Their huge trunks measure 3-4 feet across and their bark can smell like vanilla or butterscotch. Yes, really. The next day, I smelled a few pine trunks at Bryce Canyon that had a faint butterscotch scent. And I wasn't the only tree sniffer!
Ponderosa Pines are evergreen and can live for over 500 years. The wood is ponderous,or heavy, and is the major lumber tree of the America Southwest. As the tree ages, its bark changes from black to orange. The bark is very thick and cracked, giving it the appearance of a rugged jigsaw puzzle. It is also fireproof, unless a thick undergrowth has grown. In many places, the U.S. Forest Service is thinning out trees and doing controlled burns so that forests of Ponderosa Pines continue to thrive throughout the Southwest.
In the morning, we would visit Bryce Canyon National Park, which is located in the High Plateau region of the Colorado Plateau, also know as "Red Rock Country." But for now, we enjoyed the quiet beauty of this peaceful meadow resting in the golden glow of the setting sun.