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WOW: Rain in Bryce Canyon National Park and Pikes Peak

“Looks like it might rain soon,” Brandon said, eyeing the clouds on the canyon horizon.

“It’s not going to rain today!” I chirped happily. “And if it does, the weather app says it’ll only be two-hundredths of an inch—a light sprinkle! It’ll feel refreshing!”

Brandon is the cloudy day to my sunny skies. He offsets my eternal optimism with hearty realism leaning into pessimism.

We were at the trailhead for the Queen’s Garden Trail to the Navajo Loop, starting from Sunrise Point, and the world looked handcrafted by God. The sky was a bright blue with bubbly white cumulus pillows floating in it straight out of the wallpaper in Andy’s room in Toy Story, and the hoodoos nearly glowed orange and pink and white against the backdrop of that sky. We hiked down into Bryce Canyon along the trail, weaving in and out, taking photos through arches and next to lookouts over the vast canyon of delight. We stopped to eat the lunch I packed before we began our climb back up the canyon to Sunset Point.

“This is touching all my love languages,” I told Brandon, my eyes brimming with tears, as usual, because all I do now is weep at the majesty and miracles happening. Listen, cicadas! Tears. Look, a lizard! Tears. My people, walking together in front of me on the trail! Tears. Oh, happy and probably somewhat annoying sigh!

“I still think it’s going to rain,” Brandon said. We started the long, sweaty, breathless climb back out of the canyon.

“No,” breath, “it isn’t,” breath, “it’s just,” breath, “going to,” breath, “sprinkle.”

It started to drip a little as we made our last turn out of the canyon, up to Sunset Point. The sky was dark to the northwest. We took a few final photos. The drips turned to drops, more frequent, heavier. Brandon began to walk faster. Drops became rain bullets, heavy plunks that stung as they hit our skin. We ran the rest of the way to the truck and spent the next four hours driving to Moab, Utah, in the pouring rain.

“Guess it isn’t going to rain, Mom,” the kids mocked from the back of the seat.

Utah continued to unfold its vast magnificence to us around every bend. While the boys and I had been used to saying “WOW” every few minutes now for almost two weeks, it was all new and overwhelming to Lydia and Brandon.

“I’m just in awe of God’s creation,” Lydia reflected from the backseat. The smell of sagebrush seeped into the truck.

We had planned to make a drive through Arches National Park when we arrived in Moab, but time got away from us, and we all needed some time to just relax by a pool, eat dinner, browse some gift shops, and soak in another picturesque sunset over red-faced rock walls.

The next day, we started out early to tackle the six-hour drive to Pikes Peak. Let’s just say that there’s nothing boring whatsoever about Utah. As the red canyon ridges shift to high mountains coated in evergreens, it just keeps being beautiful and awe-inspiring. By the end of the day, I had a crick in my neck from looking up so much.

We arrived at Pikes Peak to another threat of rain.

“I don’t think it’s going to rain,” the kids said to me as it started to rain. 

We surprised the kids by reserving seats on the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which carried us up almost to the summit—because of the weather and other technical difficulties, we were only able to go to 12,500 feet, still above the treeline, nearly parallel to the clouds. 

It wasn’t as cool as we all had hoped, because of the weather, but it was still an amazing view of the wilderness you just don’t get to experience from a plane or a highway, speeding by assuming this stretch of mountains just wraps itself around the highway, when there’s still so much beyond what we can see. 

“I wish we would have seen more wildlife,” Lydia said. “I’m glad we saw a marmot and a fox, but I would have loved to have seen elk, or moose, or something else.”

As we crawled back down the mountain in our train car, I stood up and stared out into the woods, willing wildlife to emerge from the forest and present themselves to us. And then I saw something.

“We saw lots of wildlife,” I told the kids as we walked back to the car in the rain. “We saw hundreds of thousands of conifers. We saw an aspen grove that’s all connected by one root system. We saw moss growing on boulders and black-eyed Susans.”

“I guess that’s true,” Lydia said.

It stopped raining on our way out of the mountains and into Denver, the sky failing to disappoint on its routine awesomeness.

“Look for the rainbow,” I told the kids, and seconds later, there it was. “There it is!” 

To the left, the sky glowed. To the right, the rain gave way to a dim arc showcasing the full spectrum of color.

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