The land of very beautiful places

RM Park IMG_0370

It’s summer, and that means that America’s national parks are full of visitors.  A visit to Rocky Mountain National Park (or any park, really) is a head-clearing experience, if you pick your time wisely and try to rise above the crowds.

Because this is a holiday week, our parks will welcome amazing numbers of visitors. If you live in Denver and the metro area, you are surrounded by buildings that are growing taller and less pleasing (to be diplomatic). The city of Denver talks about adding parkland in the city, so it will be interesting to see how a developer will propose any open space at the Park Hill Golf Course, and how the city will handle its conservation easement on that land. No bets taken here.

All of this comes to mind in a recent column in Architect by Aaron Betsky, an architect and critic who recently visited Zion National Park in Utah. “It was a much needed antidote to my obsession with both architecture and politics.” He felt that the natural wonders he saw could make better architects.

He begins: “It is the season to see things bigger than buildings. Summertime is when Americans, despite their ability to go anywhere at any time virtually, hit the road to get some real experiences: mountains, forests, lakes, deserts, and wetlands beckon us away from the grid and the boxes where we live, work, and play, to see structures and spaces at the very edge of human imagination, in both senses of the word.”

We do not need to travel far. A trip to Denver Botanic Gardens is a tonic, too: A  recent visit surrounded by flowers and trees included a surprising number of people just sitting on a bench and reading, shutting out the world. So is Red Rocks, larger than life and always new.

Below are links to Betsky’s column, a blog from REI on the more than 300 million visitors to national parks in 2018, the website for Rocky Mountain National Park, and a story in the June issue of 5280 about the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which is dark and mysterious.

As for the photo: Whenever a relative or friend visits, they want to go to Rocky Mountain National Park. Who can blame them? The image above was taken on Trail Ridge Road in mid-June of 2015.  As always, it was magnificent, with sheer snow walls on either side of a road wandering through the park. The people in the photo? I have no clue, but I loved their spontaneous rush to look at beauty.

A First-Timer’s Guide to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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