The Canyon With a Thousand Tongues

by Peter Secan

Today we spent the better part of our morning winding down and stomping up in utter amazement and awe in the natural spectacle that is Bryce Canyon National Park. The hoodoos – carved over millions of years by water, wind, and sexual innuendo – were amazing in their own right. However, I noticed something different about the canyon that was (almost) equally as incredible.

A thousand tongues speaking a thousand different languages.

Around every switchback was a new collection of faces, all looking up pointing in bewilderment at the same towering rock formations that we were, muttering to themselves in French, Hindi, German, Russian, Chinese, and a bumbling herd of perspiring adventurers speaking unmistakable Canadian.

For some reason – call it the universal ignorance of the everyday American – I expected our national parks to be filled with more…well…nationals. From Crater Lake to Redwood and Yosemite to Zion, we’ve run into more people from foreign lands looking to explore America’s treasures than actual Americans.

It’s been a pleasant surprise, actually. In all the bullshit and utter buffoonery on display coming out of our fearless political leaders, it’s refreshing to see people from all over the world coming here to be stricken by natural beauty. It has allowed me to enjoy our National Parks all the more knowing how far some people travel just to get a glimpse (despite the fact that I famously hate large crowds, slow-moving people, and the oblivious personal space neglecters).

This is less of an observation and more of a veiled plea to anyone who might live in our great country but has never ventured beyond their own hometown sign post to see it. We’ve adventured through less than a fraction of a percent of the amazing sights and scenes available from sea to shining sea, and experiencing what we have so far makes me giddy knowing we have the foreseeable future to ingest so much more.

Go to Bryce Canyon.

Go to Yosemite.

Go to the Grand Canyon.

Go to the next town over to see the world’s largest filing cabinet (looking at you Burlington, Vermont).

Go get some fresh perspective on how big it all is and how small we all are. If there’s one thing hearing the many voices of Bryce Canyon has taught me, it’s that people will go to great lengths to simply feel small.

Go get small.

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