A week in Southern Utah

Sketches from a week-long trip to Southern Utah. I’ve been to this corner of the world before and thought I knew what to expect. But, just like 2 decades ago, I was floored by the incredible landscape. I don’t think I could ever get over how strange and beautiful a place it is.

We drove into the town of Springdale near Zion late at night. What a treat it was to wake up to looming red and orange cliffs all around us.
The cliffs of Zion. Viewed from under an overhang called Weeping Rock.

Fiery red and orange in the sunlight, and deep purple in the shadows. It is hard to imagine that one river, the smallish Virgin river, cut all these deep ravines.

The Upper Emerald Pool is not as hard to get to as we were told it was. And it was totally worth it. Lower and Middle Emerald Pools were little muddy pools, but up high in the cliffs this little green pool was just lovely. The trouble with drawing at Zion was knowing when to stop: There was just so much to capture: the colors, the texture, the scale, the play of vegetation across the arid landscape.
Nothing like a cold beer after a hike. Evolution Amber Ale was a find.

If Zion was hard to capture in sketches, Bryce was almost impossible: how do you capture so unreal a landscape? I gave drawing the whole scene from the rim of the canyon a couple of shots, but soon settled on capturing the hoodoos up close. Bryce Canyon is spectacular when seen from the Rim, looking down. But if you really want to look at those strange structures called hoodoos, hike down into the canyon.
I’m surprised so few people seem to know about Capitol Reef National Park. If you think you’re not up to hiking the narrows at Zion, you can hike them here. While the floor of the valley never gets so narrow that you can touch the cliff walls on both sides at the same time, it is still quite spectacular to be walking down so narrow a trail with huge cliffs looming over you.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park. It is strange to think that so many of these delicately balanced structures that have stood for millions of years could topple over any day. Glad I got to see them.

And that arch you see on every Utah license plate: Delicate Arch. Viewed from across a deep ravine. The kids and I sit down to sketch. Hari takes photographs.
yet another arch… North Window.
Heading back to Vegas for our flight back home, we made a detour and drove up to the Prehistoric Museum, Price, Utah. What a find! Where else in a museum to the paleontologists let you watch them slowly chip away as they unearth fossils from huge block? Or let you hold huge fossilized dino eggs? (yes, they were real, not casts) Or spend hours patiently explaining all the little bits about dino footprints you just don’t get? John Bird and Lloyd Logan at the museum in Price did just that.
We had plans to squeeze in a trip to Hoover dam before we headed back home. But that last little plan got scratched when my daughter Kavya jammed her finger in the door. It turned out NOT to be a broken finger, but we spent a long time in ER before we found that out.
We’ve been back a week. I miss those red rocks.

If you’d like to see ALL my sketches from this trip ( I’m warning you, there are a LOT of them), you can head over to flickr.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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6 Responses to A week in Southern Utah

  1. Kathy Terry says:

    Absolutely Beautiful!


  2. You are truly an amazing artist, Suhita. You’ve captured this magical landscape so perfectly!


  3. what a gorgeous way to keep your memories. I am so impressed.


  4. marimann says:

    These sketches are gorgeous and from one of my very favorite parts of the country…I swam in the Virgin River when I was in Utah for an archaeological dig. May I ask what kind of art materials you take along on your travels for these sketches?


  5. Looks great .i dream to stay out and to sketch , i need a few lessons , or i need to trust me.
    Your sketches are amazing.Thank you.


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