Zion National Park

Photos + Words: Jedidiah Jenkins

The American West is one of the most photogenic regions on our planet. The thin desert air and red earth and sheer cliffs and thirsty ground play with light
like nowhere else.

Every year we take a road trip out to Telluride, Colorado for Memorial Day Weekend. The tiny mountain town hosts a documentary film festival called Mountainfilm and we find it so intellectually nourishing that we’ve promised each other never to miss it. We have turned this tradition into a great-American road trip each May.

From Los Angeles, we aim for the great national parks. Those icons of the west that smash your eyes with largeness and regal swagger. This year, we hit Zion National Park and Moab, Utah.

Zion is the post-apocalyptic Yosemite. The valley is deep and the cliffs stand above you, almost on top of you, and choke out the sky. The sun is softened because it only gets a few hours to fly over the canyon before it hides behind
the giant walls.

We spent the night in that canyon and watched the stars move in their small
strip of sky.

The next day we went to Moab, Utah, which is as close to a terra-formed Mars on this planet you’ll ever find. The red rocks are piled high, smooth as orange pillows with green grass and trees poking from their wrinkles and folds. What’s remarkable about this place is the lawlessness of it. We rented UTV’s and drove out into the maze of canyons and cliffs. For hours and hours we turned at our whims and screamed at the desert with excitement. Those vehicles, or toys, if that’s what they should be called, are so fun they seem illegal. But apparently there are still places in this country that feel wild and free.

We explored with those things ’til sunset. Exhausted, and covered in red dust, we stayed the night there in Moab, falling asleep with tired cheeks from
laughter and smiling.

There are still places
in this country
that feel wild and free.

Our final destination was Telluride and the unseasonal May snowstorm. The American West is too much to take in. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying.