Places to See in Southeast Utah

Located in the Navajo Indian Nation in the middle of nowhere just off of highway 160 is the Four Corners Monument. The really cool thing about this place is standing on the X and knowing you are in four different states at one time. The monument has booths located on all four sides where the Navajo’s sell souvenirs. Located North of the monument is a half mile hiking trail which leads down and around a bluff where the views of colorful sandstones can be seen.

With highway 163 from Bluff to Monument Valley being part of the Ancient Trails makes the highway a very scenic drive, where around each curve and over every hill is eye-catching scenery, from flat arid land to bluffs and monoliths that change their appearance as one drives by. Just West of Mexican Hat is the location where Tom Hanks ended his cross-country run in the movie Forest Gump.

Monument Valley just across the state line in Arizona has a seventeen-mile unpaved road which leads one through the valley where mesa’s, butte’s, and tall spires can be seen. The road is over gravel and clay and in some places over slick rock with the going very rough, but passable in all types of vehicles. Although many of the views are of the same formations, the narrower buttes and spires appearance changes with different angles. Although one’s imagination may see one thing, many of the spires and butts were given names by early settlers of the canyon. With most of the canyon being an empty desert, orange looking sand surrounds the rock structures with a limited amount of vegetation.

Gooseneck State Park may be a small park, but it allows one to look down 1,000 feet into the earth’s skeleton for an excellent view of the San Juan River carving its way through the desert floor. The river twists and turns for over 6 miles while only advancing 1.5 miles West towards Lake Powell.

Unlike Monument Valleys loop drive, Valley of The Gods is a 16-mile unpaved road through a sandstone valley that features stunning geological formations. For the most part, the road which leads one through the valley is smooth with a few dry washes. The scenic drive has two entrances, with the East entrance just West of Bluff on highway 163 and the West entrance just North of Mexican Hat on highway 261. As one travels the meandering road around sharp turns and steep inclines, the views of the sandstone monoliths and mesas are spectacular.

Traveling highway 261 to highway 95 can be a real treat. Six miles in is the Moki Dugway, an unpaved, but well graded three-mile stretch of highway with switchbacks and hairpin curves which takes one up 1,200 feet to the crest of Cedar Mesa. Near the top is a scenic pullover which allows for the spectacular views of the San Juan River Gorge and Valley of the Gods scenic drive. The drive across the mesa, which covers 400 square miles takes one through a forest of Junipers, Pinyon, and other native plants, where cattle and other wildlife have an open range to roam freely.

About 40-miles West of the Natural Bridges Monument on Utah 95 is Glen Canyon Recreation Area. As the highway winds its way through the canyon the amazing views of rock structures as well as sandstone structures line the canyon walls as well as all along the canyon floor. Dipping through the canyon floor the highway passes over an arch bridge where the mighty Colorado Rivers flows through the gorge beneath it and just around the next bend the highway passes over the gorge of the Dirty Devil River just before its merger into the Colorado River. Reaching the top of the mesa on the West side is Hite Overlook, which offers visitors a spectacular view of the Glen Canyon recreation area and the Colorado Rivers pursuit to reach the Northern section of Lake Powell.

Natural Bridges National Monument which sits on top of the Northe

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Jerusalem: The Two Golgothas

According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ was crucified at a site notorious for its name – Golgotha, which is the Hebrew word for “skull”. In Latin, the word is “Calva” or “cranium”. Its ancient Greek word, “Kraniou” confirms the same meaning. Three verses of the Gospels confirm the name of the site: Mathew 27:33, Mark 15:22, and John 19:17. But where is it located?

One problem in locating the true site is that the Bible contains a little description. John also names the place as Golgotha-the place of the Skull, but he adds a detail, “the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city,” thus visible to passersby (John 19:20).

Since the 4th century AD, the tradition location of Golgotha was reportedly discovered when Helena, mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine, made a pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem to find the true site of the crucifixion and collect artifacts connected to it. According to legend, she was directed to a location beneath a pagan temple to Venus, previously built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and found the cross on which Jesus was crucified as well as those of the criminals who suffered next to Him. She also found the nails that pinned Jesus to the cross, a part of the “titulus” above Jesus’ head which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” and the tunic He wore while carrying His cross to Golgotha.

Believing that the site of Christ’s execution had been discovered, Constantine ordered the temple to be demolished, so a large church could be built over it. This church became known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It included a small outcropping where Christ’s cross stood and the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Since then, faithful Christians have been coming to visit this most sacred place, especially from the Greek, Roman, Armenian, and Coptic churches. However, since the mid-19th century, pilgrims have been visiting another location where they believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

A rocky hill outside Jerusalem became the focus of attention of Christians. It is known as “Skull Hill” because the front side resembles the features of a skull, with two deep holes for eyes and one for a nose. These key features cinched the place as the true “Golgotha” among mostly Protestant Christians. Plus, according to early Christians, criminals’ skulls and bones lay scattered in front of the outcropping. Close by, a tomb was uncovered as well as a winepress. Archeologists concluded that the area must have been an “agricultural garden” owned by a wealthy person. Today many pilgrims regard this place as the true location of Christ’s execution and burial. If Christians are not convinced this is the real site, the gospels read that “at the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no-one had ever been laid” (John 19:41).

Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy follower of Christ, claimed His body from Pontius Pilate, the local governor, and laid it in a new tomb which he owned. In front of the foot of the tomb, a long thin block which was meant to hold back a large round stone could be rolled over the entrance to seal it. Isaiah 53: 9, refers to a prophecy related to Christ’s burial: “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death… “.

Although archeological and geological evidence reveal two possible sites where Jesus was crucified and buried, many visitors who come to either site generally feel blessed as they are spiritually soaked in what the Savior went through to take away the sins of the world. Does it really matter to the believer on which location Jesus suffered? No, as long as their hearts are moved by many as the most powerful spiritual experience.

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