(Moab, Utah, April 26, 2012) As our fellow Road Scholars begin their journey to Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon, we share happy memories of the time we spent together.

Thor’s Hammer, Bryce Canyon National Park, April 22, 2012

Mary Miller in Capitol Reef National Park, April 23, 2012

Bill Lucas hiking in Bryce Canyon, April 22, 2012

Carrie Claffey hiking Grand Wash Trail, Canyonlands National Park

A lonely sapling hangs onto a sandy cliff in Bryce Canyon, April 22, 2012

Steve Pestorius enjoying Capitol Reef National Park, April 23, 2012

Eric and Arlene Paul outside the Gifford House, Capitol Reef

Lyle and Nell Jones high above the Moab Fault, Arches National Park

Road Scholars hiking in Arches National Park, April 22, 2012

Edna Klein and Pat Miller near South Window, Arches National Park

Frances Poirier up close and personal with the rocks of Capitol Reef

Leon and LaGatha Adkison on the Grand Wash Trail, Capitol Reef

Jane Dohler on the Grand Wash Trail, Capitol Reef National Park

On the way to Moab, Utah, April 24, 2012. Even the drives are beautiful.

Charlie and Adrienne Bodie at Dead Horse Point, Utah, April 24, 2012

The Canyons of Canyonland National Park, April 24, 2012

Edna Southard hiking in Capitol Reef National Park, April 23, 2012

Where did these rocks come from? Arches National Park, April 24, 2012

Helene Ryan trying out one of Butch Cassidy’s hideouts, April 23, 2012

A late afternoon thunderstorm over Arches National Park, April 26, 2012

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Utah State Highway 12 near Capitol Reef National Park, April 22, 2012

(Torrey, Utah, April 22, 2012) Last night, after bidding our friends in the Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyons program a fond farewell, Cameron and I met another group of Road Scholars on their way east. They’re on a ten-day program touring Zion, Bryce, Anasazi State Park, Capitol Reef and Arches National Park, and Lake Powell, with stops at a number of museums along the way.

Road Scholars hiking into Bryce Canyon, April 22, 2012

It’s a different experience, with less strenuous hiking and a more intellectual exploration of Utah’s natural wonders. But we begin where we left off, with a hike into Bryce Canyon and its magnificent landscapes. It’s fun to see a new group of participants experience this one-of-a-kind environment.

Larissa Matthews inside Bryce Canyon, April 22, 2012

Later in the day, we’re off to the Colorado Plateau and Escalante National Monument. We’re above the top of Bryce, which we remember is above Zion, which is above the Grand Canyon. It’s a mind-boggling concept, but our new program coordinators, Chrystal and Marc Deshowitz, are more than up to the task of guiding us through it. Sometimes, the reality of where you are has a way of putting conceptual musings into their proper contexts.

Kenneth Matzner at the Anasazi Museum, Boulder, Utah, April 22, 2012

Vistas that were overwhelmed by the unique worlds of Zion and Bryce have opened up quickly, and we can see for hundreds of miles as we drive east. Anasazi State Park, with its ruins of Native American settlements, reminds us of the people who shared these geological wonders with us long ago.

And finally, we arrive in Torrey, positioned for two days in Capitol Reef National Park, which is out of the way enough to record the fewest annual visitors of any National Park, but beautiful enough to boast the highest percentage of repeat visitors. We can’t wait to find out why.

Geologist Marc Deshowitz describing the view from Boulder Mountain, April 22, 2012

Geologist Marc Deshowitz describing the view from Boulder Mountain, April 22, 2012