AllisonPhipps_VDayContestAllison Phipps

We spent a day in the Fiery Furnace with a private group. It was unlike anywhere I have ever been before. I felt like we were walking in a strange Dr. Seuss land of large, smooth, bulbous rocks. Small passage ways weave through the rock formations and open up to beautiful open areas surrounded by the red rocks. The ecosystem is sensitive there so you have to be careful where you step to avoid crushing the biological crust. So we felt like we were someplace very special jumping from rock to rock. We found a large flat rock exposed to sun and felt compelled to do some sun salutations half way through the day. I can safely say our entire group fell in love with the red rocks and the desert that day. I would love to go back!

CarolynODonnellShimek_VDayContestCarolyn O’Donnell Shimek

Six days backpacking down Grand Gulch, May 1980. Four freshly-graduated college women checked into the trailer at Kane Gulch, armed with topo maps with numbered ink dots, and eight pages of scrawled notes from one of our professors who helped map the ruins many years earlier. We emerged at Collin Spring eight days later completely enchanted with the place. Since then, I’ve returned many times with my husband, mostly to raft the Green, San Juan and Colorado Rivers.

MaddieHayes_VDayContestMaddie Hayes

Senior year, my AP Environmental Science teacher took my class to Southern Utah where we camped in the Kodachrome Basin and went canyoneering outside of Zion. Before the trip, I had never really been to Southern Utah since I had spent most of my life living in the Salt Lake Valley. Tasting the red sand in my teeth and having it stain my clothes “redrock red” left me with a new sense of pride in coming from Utah. The redrock humbled me and helped me truly appreciate my home state’s beautiful landscape. I think that was why my teacher took us South — to really open our eyes!

Sabrina Stein

SabrinaStein_VDayContestLast August, forty incoming, awkward and apprehensive college freshmen including myself took a four-day river rafting trip down the Green River through the Gates of Lodore. I never expected the majestic red cliffs, the breathtaking rainbows, and the big horn sheep that danced for us as we floated lazily down the river. But I definitely didn’t expect the bonds that were formed between those strangers that I now call my best friends. I am forever grateful for that wilderness because it is full of miracles.

KimEricLilot_VDayContestKim Eric Lilot

In the fall of 2012 five friends and I went into the Dirty Devil River for a week of backpacking and exploring.

The river has carved a series of wonderful slot canyons which pulled us further and further down the river.

This year we plan on returning with rafts and explore the river and its multiple side-canyons all the way down to the confluence.

It’s easy to believe the legend that this was one of the Hole In the Wall Gang’s retreats. It is certainly one of mine.

JessicaBestStout(2)_VDayContestJessica Best Stout

To me the tall vermillion pillars of southern Utah are giant shards of God’s clay from his worktable. Love of the rock has led to love of my life. In Moab near Corona Arch I met my future husband. For dates we hiked St. George’s crack and Angel’s Landing. Under Delicate Arch I said yes. While engaged we canoed down the Green River. As newlyweds we mountain biked on Church Rocks and Bear Claw Poppy trail. Now we show our young girls petroglyphs at Anasazi Hill and dinosaur tracks in Warner Valley. Where would we be without red rocks?

LauraFeeney_VDayContestLaura Feeney

I lived my entire life in southern Georgia. Instead of red rock we had red clay. Instead of canyons carved by rivers we had canyons caused by farming. Then in 2013 we moved to Northern Utah. Our first venture down south was Arches. We hiked to delicate arch and watched the sun go down and the sky turn purple. This year we went to Canyonlands for my birthday. We hiked and explored and watched the most incredible sunset of my life. When the stars came out, I knew I had fallen in love.

PeterWoodruff_VDayContestPeter Woodruff

When Fiona and I first met, we were program facilitators for a wilderness therapy organization based in southern Utah. Like many instructors there, we shared a mutual love for the rugged outdoors and the belief that experiences of undiluted solitude can inspire retrospection and self-discovery rarely be found elsewhere in modern society. We not only fell in love with each other and the landscapes of Utah’s redrock, but with the power it holds over our imagination.

GigiLove_VDayContestGigi Love

When I moved to Utah I did not know how to camp and I was afraid of nature. This was a sad situation that I needed to remedy. I saw people having so many amazing experiences and I wanted to feel that too.

One evening I decided it was time for my initiation into the great mystery. So I hiked up a canyon in Moab, alone with my pack, and some provisions for an overnighter. I was scared and crazy thoughts of breaking my leg, getting stalked by a mountain lion or worse and fears raced through my mind. The beauty was the only thing that comforted me a little. I found my spot and laid out my bedroll. I had never slept outside, in a canyon alone before. The night came on with midnight blue skies, stars and long shadows. I kept my headlamp on until it was pitch dark, and I knew the moment was coming that I had to turn it off. As I flipped off the light, and laid down, the most peaceful feeling of love, angels, and comfort enveloped me. It was the best sleep I’ve ever had. I truly felt more love and safety than I had ever known.

Patrick Donnelly

I was 20. I’d read too much Kerouac and listened to too much Grateful Dead. I set out from New Jersey with all of my stuff in the back of the car, and found myself late one night driving down River Road from Colorado, the eye-popping scenery all around me lost in the black of night. The next morning, I awoke to a strange landscape of red rock, and my first thought was, “My god, I’m on Mars!” I instantly fell in love. It’s been 12 years, and I still haven’t left the desert.

BrandonBirch_VDayContestBrandon Birch

I took my girlfriend into coyote gulch on a backpacking trip, and got caught up in the Spirit of the land, made an engagement ring from wood and asked her to marry me, been married 6 years two kids and never miss a summer in red rock country!

Wayne Rhodus

As an avid nature photographer I had long wanted to see the stark beauty of Utah. In 2009 that dream came true in the form of a trip to Moab and the astounding Arches NP, Canyonlands NP and Dead Horse State Park. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we returned in 2012, but this time took in Bryce Canyon and Zion NP’s. While we’ve only scratched the surface you can be sure we’ll be back for another dose of this stunning scenery …

Marsha Kesselring

It was spring, 1983 after our first winter in Colorado. We decided to head west to Utah, then south to Grand Canyon. We got off I70 at Cisco and headed for Moab on the back road, not even paved then. I could not believe the beauty around me. The red rock, and Colorado River took my breath away. Arriving at the Canyon my soul was touched and I knew I would never be the same. Thirty three years later, I am still in love with the red rock canyon country.

CamronStevenson_VDayContestCamron Stevenson

My Redrock Love Story‬ began in March 2007 when my wife and I decided to visit Moab and Arches National Park after I ended up with a few unexpected days off of work. I visited as a kid but something on this trip got into my blood. We hiked Arches, visited Looking Glass Rock, Needles overlook, Newspaper rock and many other rock art sites around the area. We hiked to Double O arch the last day there and met a ranger on the trail who told us about Matrimony Spring (before it was deemed off limits) and the legend of those that drink from it always return. We did not drink from it then but we did when we returned with family the next year. We visit southern Utah every year at least once and we love to share it with family. The picture is from our trip last spring.

LaurelSmith_VDayContestLaurel Smith

My love affair with the beauty of southern Utah’s red rocks starts at a very young age growing up in Utah with parents that took me camping and hiking to just about every corner we could! As an adult, I met the love of my life that shared my sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. While dating we spent our first camping trip together in Zion, we first told each other “I love you” in Zion, we then also had our wedding reception within Zion at a house we rented up Kolob Terrace road. And, of course, many other trips in between to all sorts of gems throughout southern Utah! We are now sharing our love of these magical places with our children and look forward to all the new explorations to discover amidst our beloved red rocks!

Marlene Cornia

My first time at Red Rock, I was with my LDS youth group on a hike. I remember I was eating a corn dog and slipped into a little pond. My corn dog floated away. It made me realize how much I love corn dogs. I also had so much fun with my group and loved the rocks and peacefulness. I really did feel Heavenly Fathers love. So grateful for the people and laws that strive to protect the Canyonlands. (True story)

ChrisDickson_VDayContestChris Dickson

In the fall of 2010, four friends and I drove through the windswept and winding roads of Hell Hole Swale in the dark, completely oblivious to our surroundings. We awoke the next morning to an unimaginable view: endless slots, knobs, holes, and bends, all crafted by the timeless force of erosion and the Dirty Devil River. The next four days were spent exploring, with childlike curiosity, a landscape that transcended reality and continuously defied our imaginations. I now return regularly to the redrock wilderness to find solace in that world of wonder.

CareyCarry-OnBelcher_VDayContestCarey Carry-On Belcher

In 2000 I visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, which is amazing. I backpacked the Narrows of Zion and was instantly hooked on the towering red walls of the slot canyon. I had to live here! Since then I’ve left but returned to live in Southern Utah four times. The red dirt got in my blood and won’t let me go. In March I’m backpacking Buckskin Gulch and the Paria and my family enjoys the red rock 10Ks and half marathons. Southern Utah is the perfect place to hike in the winter with bright sun and little snow. I’m truly in love.

KendallVanHorssen_VDayContestKendall Van Horssen

Nearly four years ago, I started dating a new girl and our first camping trip together was to the one place that we both love: Moab. We mountain biked, hiked in the Needles District of Canyonlands, and just realized how much fun we would have together. Three years later, we got engaged overlooking Chesler Park and four months ago married within the red rock cliffs surrounding the amazing Colorado River. We can’t go a day without wanting to visit Southern Utah red rock country. It’s a place that means so much to everyone, a place that’s mystical and enchanting to our souls. Having visited red rock country since we were young children, every time we go we feel energized and ready for anything that life throws our way. There’s more in redrock country to explore than we could possibly see in our lifetimes and we look forward to exploring even familiar spots for the rest of our lives together.

Michael Joseph Kurilich

Going to Zion for the first time in 1978 with my friend Chris Smith. His sister Adele (you all know her there at SUWA and over at NOLs) got married in Rockville and we stayed a few nights at Dels house in the park. To say we were blown away is an understatement. That is the biggest part we miss about leaving Utah after 22-years. Go, Go, Go!

TommiFoyJones_VDayContestTommi Foy Jones

My Dad was born and raised in the Southeastern part of Utah. As a child we spent time there with our cousins and grandparents and although I was a city kid (SLC, LA) I loved being able to go there to explore the red dirt and rocks. As I have aged (58 now) I have grown to love the red rock areas even more possibly because I have lived in the Midwest for the last 34 years. The area is so unique and our family history has become such a part of me by exploring these red rocks.

AndrewJosephWilson_VDayContestAndrew Joseph Wilson

I am fortunate enough to have a father who forced his love of the great outdoors upon me as soon as he could. The San Rafael Swell was one of the first areas that we got to know together and still remains one of our favorite standbys. Between having a good reason as an 8-year-old to say “ass” while driving through the Jack Ass Benches to sharing our first beer together bivouacking under the stars, the Swell has always been there for my dad and me. I can’t wait to see what other memories it brings us in the future.

KlaasEikelenboom_VDayContestKlaas Eikelenboom

I visited Southern Utah in 1988 and the time I spent there was way too short. It wasn’t love at first site but the photographs were very beautiful and my love grew. I came back often, so yes I certainly love the area, my favorite destination. No where else on earth. I like to hike there as I did in 2013 to walk to Druid Arch in the Needles District. Needless to say it is gorgeous. Loving something which is, except for holidays, too far away from home, Europe, translates to remembering and daydreaming about the next trip there.

StevenLayton_VDayContestSteven Layton

I grew up in Northern Utah but my family was not outdoorsy, nor did they camp; however, in a fortunate twist of fate, at the age of 15, my parents decided to borrow a Rickety old Camper and take a road trip though parts of Utah’s Red Rock Country. My eyes could not believe the wonders that surrounded me! We visited places like The Wedge, Goblin Valley, San Rafael Swell, and Capitol Reef National Park. These places were SO INCREDIBILITY BEAUTIFUL, I became instantly hooked! I had too see more, I had to visit these places that were in my own backyard. I could not believe I had never been. I took every chance I could to go with friends to see this amazing place, then when I bought my first vehicle I started exploring even more. I started realizing the importance of nature, the beauty of Wilderness and need for wild places. My life took on new meaning, I began taking college courses and got a degree in Recreation Management. I am a huge outdoor enthusiast, it is so much a part of my life. I camp and spend time out doors as much as possible. Love the Red Rocks!

DeniRitchey_VDayContestDeni Ritchey

My love for the red rock blossomed in 2010. I spent the summer traveling through southern Utah, and I knew instantly it was the place for me, my heaven. Growing up in the lush green hills of western Pennsylvania, Utah was another world. It is the world I know my soul belongs in. Not being a very spiritual or religious person, this feeling was new to me. But it has never left me. Every day I long to be there. Now, every year when summer rolls around, I drop what I’m doing and head to Utah, re-read “Desert Solitaire” and every other book by Ed, spend days sniffing sage and creosote, and I know I am where I belong. My soul is at home in the red rock.

Don Walker

Last spring I ask my backpacking GF to marry me while we where on a 4 day pack trip in Utah. We are now married and planning a complete summer of hiking and packing, starting in Utah!

A sandstone heart in Arches National Park.

Matthew Fouts

I moved to Utah from the verdant green Northwest coast. Everything was different, but most of all, it was brown and dry. How could anyone want to live here? I spent some time in a funk then my sister took me to Lake Powell. On the way we stopped at Goblin Valley State Park. Between these two areas my eyes were opened to the majestic wonders of incredible landscapes, breathtaking thunderstorms and meaningful isolation. I learned to see the beauty in the great and small of Utah. It’s amazing from the smallest sandstone pebble to the grandest Mesa, from the shy scorpion to the lizards, to the rattlesnakes…the list is too long! I love it and am invested in it heart and soul. Keep Utah Wild!

MitchStevens_VDayContestMitch Stevens

Many people hold dear in the hearts their favorite place in the world. Perhaps it’s the autumn tinged woodlands of New England, the green rolling hills of West Virginia or the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. But my favorite place is the Green River and Stillwater Canyon. This locale as well as the adjoining canyon country of southern Utah, speaks to me. A float trip down the Green River is one of the premier adventures of the West. Soaring red-rock formations, intriguing side canyons, old pioneer ruins, Anasazi cliff dwellings and crystalline air add to the allure. This is where I fell in love with canyon country!

Mara Carletti

It was a love at first sight and happened 15 years ago. Since then almost every year me and my husband travel from Italy to the Red Rocks Country. It is like a healthy addiction. One of the most beautiful memory I have belongs to the Paria Canyon where during a trekking I got lost and was completely alone in the wilderness. I sat at a juniper shadow to rest when I saw a jack rabbit beside me. We stayed together for a while at sun repair till I saw my husband in the distance. I had to go but I never forgot that moment.

BethanyAdams_VDayContestBethany Adams

Last summer my boyfriend and I came to Boulder, Utah for a wwoofing program to learn more on gardening, permaculture & sustainability. It was both of our first times experiencing the red rock, canyons, amazingly beautiful hikes and truly some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. After ending our two week wwoofing adventure we headed back home to the east coast, south carolina to be exact, & as soon as we hit the city we both immediately just looked at each other. The look we both had on our faces spoke for itself . . . even though we had only been together a few short months we both knew we had to come back. Just a few short weeks after our return home we were on the road again with everything we owned back west to the beautiful red canyon country. In june it will be a year of us living here, and as I just stated the other day while driving over scenic hwy 12 “moving here was by far the best decision I have ever made in my 25 years of living.”

RaissaWohlgemuth_VDayContestRaissa Wohlgemuth

My mom started taking me backpacking in Utah when I was young so it has always been a special place to me. When I grew up and found a man I loved I wanted to share it with him as well. I planned a backpacking trip through Coyote Gulch during a Harvest Moon for my birthday and knowing that redrock wildernesses are my favorite places in the world, he proposed during the trip. He said the hardest part was picking the exact moment to do it because there were so many beautiful parts!

Bridget Prehn Gibbons

Southern Utah. Its where I spent my honeymoon. Now, I’m not saying snorkeling in Hawaii wouldn’t have also been an incredible way to start off our life together, but our honeymoon adventures were amazing! Including our tent blowing away (serious comedy as it took sail and I leaped through the air jumping on it to save it!) , experiencing monsoon style rains, and then having to get a hotel. Twice. And so worth it. We set up our lil camp stove under the awning of our hotel and starting cooking. Pretty soon, two French tourists joined us. We ended up making new friends, having an adventure and it gave us lots of stories to tell our kids — now 10 and 15. We just barely moved back to Utah after more than a decade away, but every summer, as we road tripped across the country, we made sure to spend some time camping in Southern Utah so our daughters could experience the beauty, the adventure, the memories we had, and now that we are back, we look forward to many more camping trips exploring the intricacy of the Southern part of our incredibly beautiful state.

JuliaStinson_VDayContestJulia Stinson

I can’t remember when I fell in love with redrock wilderness, because I grew up in love with it. I started camping in Canyonlands before I was walking, and have since spent some of the happiest weeks of my life exploring redrock. My siblings and I would spend literally all day on the rocks, “discovering” caves and alcoves and arrowheads and petroglyphs. Years later, my heart still belongs to Canyonlands and Arches and Capitol Reef and the surrounding areas. (Right: picture of my cousins and siblings at Arches long ago.)

LucyKammerWoolsey_VDayContestLucy Kammer Woolsey

My husband and I got married at Dead Horse Point State Park in April 2013. I discovered my love of the red rock wilderness around Moab during college in 2007, and ended up doing my master’s thesis research along scenic byway 128 and in Canyonlands National Park in 2009 (trying to map tamarisk). When we got engaged, my husband had never been to Moab, but we knew we wanted to do a destination wedding. Thankfully he humored my love of the desert and now loves it as much as I do! Though we live in New England, we try to make it out to Moab at least once a year. Our next trip is to run with Moab Half Marathon in March!

HilarySmith_VDayContestHilary Smith

Half a decade ago, I lived a blessed little while on a magical Island In The Sky. By virtue of some glorious gift from the universe, I had snagged a job in Canyonlands National Park, and for three months I got paid to talk to people about my love affair with red rocks and desert biota.

There’s so much to wonder at on that particular mesa top alone: Mormon Tea, yucca, arches, abandoned mines, granaries, an honest-to-god syncline.

I like to think the red rocks taught me a thing or two about humility. About how to be porous, how to be a part of something cyclical, temporal, yet rooted in deep time. Maybe the ravens taught me a thing or two about wildness. Or maybe that was the goblins.

SarahOMalley_VDayContestSarah O’Malley

When I was in college, my father took my sister and me on a spring break trip to Colorado and Utah. We skied at Snowbird and Alta, but the highlight of the trip was going to Moab and visiting Arches and Canyonlands. I fell deeply and inescapably in love with the red rock desert and now contrive a way to get back there every few years (conceived and lead two mountain bike trips for my college outdoor program, dragged my husband across the country on a train, and most recently flew out for a weekend just to run the Moab Trail Marathon). Though I am a New Englander (Mainer) born and raised, something about the red rock desert makes me sick with longing. It is the second home of my heart. Thanks SUWA for the good work you do.

Warren Musselman

My wife and I fell in Love with each other around a discreet campfire in an undisclosed location somewhere on the Cedar Mesa Plateau in 1997 and have been together ever since. We’ve gone back to that spot – at the time it was a place that you could sit for a week and never see another person. It was over-run with mountain bikers and backpackers and even some 4WD RV’s. It crushed us. We’ll never return and we recommend no one else go there either. Let the land recover.

BethanyJoy_VDayContestBethany Joy

After graduating from Berkeley, I was looking for a place just as radical to begin the next chapter of my life. I found a position through the Student Conservation Association for an internship at Arches National Park. My red rock love story began my first night in Moab, when my roommate and I hiked up to Delicate Arch by moonlight and sat under the stars. I often reflect back on my two seasons at Arches and miss the lovely people I met, the lovely landscape I love, and that feeling of being home among the redrocks.

My path has changed and led me to new adventures, yet the love story remains. My experience at Arches inspired me to go to law school. Time flew, and this summer I will sit for the Utah bar. I am pursuing a career in natural resource law to protect the beautiful, iconic, redrock landscape that I love. That is my heart emoticon story.

BrooksBingman_VDayContestBrooks Bingman

It all started as an affair. My soul became split between the mountains of home and the red canyons. I was on a Colorado Mountain College field course. I learned about the geology, ecology, the native people, but mostly I discovered the magic. After that, I spent 6 weeks roaming the deserts of the Colorado Plateau and Northern Arizona in search of something I was never to find. My affair grew to passion. My passion grew to soul. I realized my soul belonged in the desert. I’ve shared this journey with my friends, people that I barely know, my desert family and myself. Wandering the red sand, slot canyons, pot holes I have come to learn that my heart is at home in the desert.

AlanaSchroeder_VDayContestAlana Schroeder

I wasn’t older than 5 or 6 when I first visited the red rocks. My parents lived in the Vegas suburbs and didn’t have a strong connection to wilderness or the outdoors, so Bryce was our family’s first wilderness vacation. My parents were – and are – suburb dwellers, but the beauty and magic of the red rocks drew them.

Years later I moved here, and living in Utah as an adult has been magical. I’m 26 now. I’ve camped and backpacked in Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, Goblin Valley, and San Rafael Swell, but next month I’m returning to Bryce for the first time in two decades. On the trip with my partner, Adam, I’ll get to re-experience what has kept me remembering Bryce for all of my childhood life and well into adulthood.

Susan Alvari

My first trip to Southern Utah was almost 5 years ago, also my first trip with my husband (then boyfriend). We stayed at Red Cliff Lodge outside of Moab, saw the most amazing sunrises and sunsets, and hiked almost every trail in Arches that weekend. It was so sentimental that we returned 2 years later to marry under the north Windows Arch at sunrise. Still our favorite place to be for a weekend getaway!

AndrewDengate_VDayContestAndrew Dengate

I was running up the slope, scrambling over rocks, and dodging cactuses. My dad had unleashed me onto the world to ascend maybe 500 vertical feet to a small structure we had seen through our binoculars. I would later find out that this was a granary, a sort of pantry that kept food sheltered for the Anasazi. Excitement overwhelmed me–though to be fair, I was only about eight. At the top, I waited for my dad before traversing along the ledge, the final push to these remains. There, everything exploded–the world became limitless. I was caught in a moment of past, present, and future. Surrounded by several 100-year-old corn husk rings, my gaze stretched across the orange world in front of me and into the canyon’s basin onto my mom and sister. I returned to Utah many times before I finally moved west a couple years ago to pursue a life lived among rocks and mountains. Something clicked for me that day, and no high-paying job has ever had the capacity to rip it out of my memory.

CarolynStraubCarolyn Straub and Steve McHenry

You can fall in love with the thunderous silence while you drive along the Notom Bullfrog Road on the edges of Capitol Reef National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

We stood in awe as a wild storm was about to seemingly break. My husband, Steve McHenry, was atop a large rock taking photos of the approaching skies. We traveled for the first time to southern Utah in May of 2010. We thought we should hurry to see this land we knew we’d love before industry claimed it, but we hope this really hasn’t happened as we want to go again.

The scenery is heartbreaking. We leave you with a photo of it.

We will always recall the remote music we played and touring with our rugged SUV and the magnificent Waterpocket Fold in that corner of the world.

LoriMeadBrinks_VDayContestLori Mead Brinks

On January 1, 2013 I was bored and began searching blogs for Anasazi ruins . . . this led me to a blog by a guy who changed my life! After studying his blog I decided that day that I was finally going to do what I had always dreamed of . . . I was going hiking in Utah and I was going to see ruins up close. In a matter of months I had amassed the gear and roped my best friend into going with me. That first year was crazy and some of our best memories ever! We went last year and we are already deep into planning this year’s trip as well. The red rock has gotten into our hearts and it will never leave!

LisaBoone_VDayContestLisa Boone

I dreamt of red and orange sand towers like from Mars. My boyfriend was with me. Months later we turned onto the mountain Loop Road (16 miles NE of Moab), August 2011. How do you describe the intense hues that mimic an unforgettable sunset, but is locked in sedimentary stone? My eyes were being bathed in unknown lands that i never knew existed. My whole being felt thirsty for catching every gaze upon the grand plateaus, towers of red rock history, balanced with green sagebrush. It’s as if you can absorb the iron by just being with the deep red stone. It was a dream within a dream.

LisaSkillett_VDayContestLisa Skillett

It was ALL Edward Abbey’s fault! I was in LOVE with Red Rock Country before I ever saw it! Abbey’s delicious word pictures of the area were realized when I took a trip to Arches and the MAZE in 1993. Now I am moving to Grand Junction in May to drink in my fill of Red Rock Country-I can’t wait!

ScottBishop_VDayContestScott Bishop

As a kid, I remember being amazed at red rock country as my family drove through Moab on our way to Georgia where my father was stationed with the Marine Corps. Years later, I came back to Utah for college and went down to Arches National Park with my brother and some friends. It was like returning to a long lost friend that I had never had the chance to know before. I have returned almost every year since 1987. My wife and I got engaged at Delicate Arch. Red rock country is where I go to find peace.

JailynnHarke_VDayContestJailynn Harke

Summer 2013 I ventured 3-weeks through red rock bliss with my closest girlfriend. We made many memories: learning from our mistakes, by chance, and maybe some simple guidance of curiosity and the open road.

Weather conditions would not permit hiking through the Narrows at the time but we both fell in love with Zion. After returning home, I had the spontaneous opportunity to go back through the southwest with my best guy friend in a quick stent to return two cats to their owner in New Mexico.

We blasted down from OR, through Arches, and dropped off the precious cargo. In the following four days, we managed to see the Grand Canyon, hike the Narrows (see photo), and watch the sun rise over Bryce– an absolute must.

I’ll never forget how much we packed into four weeks and how easily one could spend a lifetime exploring red rock country.

AprilLarson_VDayContestApril Larson

I’ll never forget my first trip to Arches National park. It was May of last year; beautiful spring weather and wildflowers blooming everywhere! Little did I know this trip would change my life forever! As my friends and I hiked the Devil’s Garden loop, we reached the Double O Arch. It was breathtaking! We were able to walk across the bridge of the top arch. As my boyfriend Michael and I reached the top, he dropped to one knee and told me he loved me, and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me! Breathless from the view and the love of my life asking me to marry him, I dropped to my knees with a “yes!”. This was the most epic hike ever! The redrocks of Moab were the perfect place for our very own love story to unfold surrounded by beauty, it was truly magical. We are getting married this September! And will never ever forget the magic on the rocks that sunny day in May

VeronicaEgan_VDayContestVeronica Egan

My Redrock Love Story began in the late 80s, when I worked as a packer for Pack Creek Ranch outside of Moab. The trips took me into Grand Gulch, Salt Creek, the La Sals, and Dark Canyon, and compelled me to see more. In the early 90s I began hiking with Steve Allen, all over SE Utah, the first trip being in Long and Gravel canyons. I was hooked! Now, after carrying a torch for my beloved canyons over 30 years of living in NM and CO, I have finally been reunited with my first love, and am living blissfully just outside of Capitol Reef NP. My heart has finally come home!

ChristianPaul_VDayContestChristian Paul

I met my wife after returning from working in Alaska for the summer. After we started spending time together, we soon found that we loved getting out in the wilderness together. She loves the red rock desert that we are fortunate to have here in Utah. It was an incredible three days out there. One of our fondest memories traveling in the wilderness. This shot is of one of our first trips together in Southern Utah. Backpacking the La Verkin Creek Trail.

Ralph Merrill

I worked summers in Zion and Bryce. I did a lot of running along the Virgin River and hiked many beautiful trails in Zion. Running, and hiking though the hoo-doos, viewing sunrise and the crepuscular glow at sunset from the rim at Bryce were amazing. They are memories not to be forgotten. The Redrocks became part of my DNA. There have been multiple trips to the Redrock Country over 60 years no matter where I lived. Who could not love the beauty and tranquility of this treasure of our country.

TanjaRilkCovington_VDayContestTanja Rilk Covington

Love IS the when we share first time experiences with people who could never conceive how beautiful the red rock is! In this picture, is our whole family, plus a student from Spain!

Birth Moon Over Cedar Breaks. ©Edwina Peterson Cross

Edwina Peterson Cross

Ten weeks before I was to be born, Mama couldn’t sleep one night so Daddy took her for a ride, up to Cedar Breaks. It was hot in Cedar, but actually snowing at the Breaks. The change in elevation was blamed, and Mama went into labor. They made it back to Cedar. I was ten weeks early, but Daddy said there was a tiny sliver of a new moon shining over the red rocks to welcome me home.

God’s Country

The night is sweet with welcome
The sharp freshwashed resin
Of sagebrush after a mountain rain
Incisive, pungent, clean
The cool wet breath
Of silken silver witch wood
Fills the night
A coyote answers

I have

The sky
Is wider than all the knowledge of man
Peaceful as sleep
Black against the mountains
The dawn here doesn’t break
But whispers…
Fine like still silver music
Whirling down satin wires
And this hushed waking
Shakes the stars from the dark streaming Sky
And stirs them into my heart

The quiet stills me inside
Turning my mind like a spade
Leaving bare understanding
Lying easy in the sun
The very air fills me with hope
A clear crystal transfusion
Giving me the peace and power
To walk upright
Into another day

I am a question
These strong red hills my answer

©Edwina Peterson Cross

Paul and Jan Day

Our first holiday in 1991 only saw us seeing a tiny corner of red rock ‘country’ around Monument Valley and the Valley Of The Gods which found us marvelling at the quietness and solitude which seems to emanate from deep within the rock. Sadly on that first trip we missed the ‘rest’ of Utah, but on our next two visits in 1993 and 2000 we fell in love with your red rock, meeting and making friends with some wonderful people along the way. We toured predominantly in the South and South West of Utah: Kanab, Boulder, Moab, taking in such places as Capitol Reef and notably Cathedral Valley and Sinbad ‘country’. Buckhorn Draw in the San Rafael Reef, the Burr Trail and Shafer Trail were and are still are some of our most cherished memories.

Touring in predominantly southern Utah, often off the beaten track, we were lucky enough to be touched by the warmth of not just the people but by the rock itself – in fact they could almost be a mirror image of each other, both have an unqualified ability to soothe the ‘soul’ and make you feel very much alive. The different red hues convey not only the warmth of the sun but a more subtle ‘warmth’, that of the Earth itself.

2005 saw us returning for more of your splendour and this time we cemented our relationship, not only with each other, but with the myriad colour hues of Utah as we were married on 27th June at Cedar Breaks. I only proposed on the 20th June in Salt Lake and we let everyone know we would be marrying at Kolob Canyon and even though no-one from home would be with us (our parents were too old to travel), we sent them postcards so they would know where we would be. Unfortunately, due to a wild fire on the day we couldn’t get to Kolob Canyon and went to Cedar Breaks instead. We were married in the open air at Sunset Overlook with the vista behind and Judge Miller, our friends and the red/orange hued rocks were our witnesses.

We had been to Cedar Breaks in 2000 and taken pictures, but it wasn’t until we returned home that we found out that in each of our parents’ living room was a picture of both us taken at Sunset Overlook in the exact spot where we were married. To us it was a sure sign we were married in the right place.

Additionally in 2005 we were fortunate enough to walk with a ranger to the Great Gallery – an impressive site and an excellent guide.

2007 saw us make our last foray the 6500 miles or so to Utah for our anniversary and yes to Sunset Overlook and as we arrived at the spot some tourists were just leaving and we were lucky to be alone in time and space to savour our memories. Our friends took us to the Rochester Panel as well as other lesser known petroglyphs and pictographs – each one memorable in their own right – and should not be denigrated in any way.

This year is our 10th anniversary, sadly we are not able to make the trip over there but our hearts and minds are never far away from the peace and wellbeing feeling of the red rock country. I would like to quote a Navajo elder who said to me as I was taking pictures, “If you like a place enough you don’t need a picture, you take it with you in your heart” and that is exactly what your red rock country makes us feel.