Autumn is too modest. It should announce itself far and wide, trumpeting the truth that, “This season will be brought to you in living color.” The colors of fall are a wakeup call to open our eyes to the beauty of the world we live in.

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Back east, sightseers book “Leaf-Peeping” bus tours, eager to observe and enjoy a day full of colorful sites, ooh-ing and aah-ing with mutual appreciation of colorful, awe-inspiring landscapes.

Spend Time in Nature and Enjoy the Benefits

We all know that spending time in nature is good for us! What better time than fall, when nature dresses up in her most colorful finery? Psychological research has shown that nature experiences are desirable and healthy. Consider just a few benefits, confirmed by credible research (drawn from an online article: “Psychological Benefits of Nature Experiences: Research and Theory.” John Davis, PhD. Naropa University and School of Lost Borders).

 

1.Nature Speeds Stress Recovery

A variety of studies over many years have shown faster recovery from stress in response to nature. Even viewing nature videos or movies leads to faster recovery. Over one hundred research studies show that stress reduction is a key perceived benefit of outdoor recreation.

 

2.Nature Promotes a Sense of Well-Being

The restorative effects of a natural environment, whether in a wilderness setting or a local nature preserve, lead to mental clarity and positive outlook on life. Merely looking at pictures of nature scenes (as compared to urban scenes) leads to increased sense of well-being. This may help explain the predominance of posters and picture calendars with nature scenes on walls of windowless rooms.

 

3.Nature Helps Us Heal

For someone recovering from surgery in a hospital room, a more natural window view promotes health and more rapid healing. There is also evidence that bringing plants and pets-which surely count as part of “nature”-into hospital rooms and residential care facilities, such as nursing homes, improves physical and mental health.

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Enjoying Wasatch Front Canyons

As a dyed-in-the-wool Westerner I can’t imagine anything more magnificent than the colors of our canyons in autumn. The Alpine Loop is one of my favorite fall drives. I never quit being astonished at the beauty of the mountains clothed in autumn finery; each turn in the road reveals new and amazing calendar-worthy sights.

It is really world-class scenery, and when my husband and I drove it last week I took pictures and want to share some of them with my Meridian readers. The brilliant reds of the maples and the yellows of the quaking aspen outdid themselves; the contrast with the deep greens of the various types of pine trees was astounding.

We also took the “side drive” from the Loop to Cascade Springs and I’ve never seen that area more beautiful. Most of the hills approaching the Springs were burned black in a fire just a few years ago, but have almost entirely recovered and looked more colorful than ever this year. Notice on some of the pictures the black tree skeletons evidencing the burn, totally overshadowed now by verdant new-growth foliage.

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Looking Back

I’ve been taking this drive for more than thirty years now, and never cease to be taken back by its beauty. Every autumn I tend to say, “This year is the best! It’s never been so gorgeous!” I always feel that I haven’t really seen the Alpine Loop until I’ve driven it from both directions because each vantage point offers different, but equally mesmerizing scenes.

One fall, commuting to American Fork, I discovered that if I left for work hour early I could drive the Alpine Loop just as dawn spreads light into every crevice and splashes onto the colorful leaves. I enjoyed it so much that I took the drive several times. Without fail as I crested each ridge, I couldn’t restrain myself from oohing and aahing at the amazing autumn panorama. On those drives I passed Sundance, the gorgeous resort built by Robert Redford, then proceeded to enjoy the autumn scenery through the equally gorgeous Provo canyon.

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Bringing the Colors of the Past into the Present

I took three of my granddaughters on a picnic up Millcreek Canyon just last Saturday and the colors were incredible! We had so much fun. I’ve often wondered how people can live within minutes of such breath-taking beauty and not bother to avail themselves of it. I have a friend who has lived in the Salt Lake Valley all her life, yet I, a relative newcomer, had to introduce her to the delights of Millcreek Canyon in autumn.

This canyon has a special appeal: it presents autumn finery “up close and personal.” Instead of faraway spectacular views, the beauty in Millcreek Canyon invites and embraces you; the canyon is so narrow that the colors are right in your face, and you can reach out and grab them! Many are the times I have stopped the car and picked an array of colorful leaves that have fallen to the ground from trees right beside the road. The upper Millcreek Canyon offers the addition of subtle shades of burgundy, rust, and lime green, and a lemony yellow to the usual autumn palette of bright yellow, flaming red, and orange. The resulting blend of colors paints a fall picture that is truly a feast for the eyes.

Our favorite autumn picnic area in Millcreek Canyon in a spot called Church Fork. We lovingly dubbed this area “The Waterfall Place” because a good-sized creek tumbles down one incline after another as you drive up the narrow to picnic sites, some right beside a waterfall.

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Take Advantage of Approaching Autumn

There’s no getting around it: getting out and enjoying nature is good for you! I start feeling the benefits the moment I turn off the freeway and start up one of the gorgeous canyons that have become such an important part of my life. I immediately breathe more deeply and feel a greater sense of calm.

If you live close to any canyons, don’t wait until the leaves turn in the valleys. The minute you can see color on the mountains, start your Canyon Capers! Nature beckons, waiting to help and heal us! Nothing can change a dreary black-and-white life to Technicolor more quickly than driving through blazing autumn scenery.  Take advantage of this fall season, brought to you in living color! 

 

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