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Exploring U.S. Highway 89

Photographer Ann Torrence took the scenic route through seven of the West's national parks.

Ann Torrence by Highway 89 sign, image
Photo caption
Ann Torrence captured images of a five-state, 1,600-mile journey.

Ann Torrence, the author of U.S. Highway 89: The Scenic Route to Seven Western National Parks, spent three years chronicling this mostly two-lane road from Canada to Mexico.

Q What inspired you?
It all started when I asked myself a fateful question: Where does this highway lead?

Q Why follow it?
It’s a chance to get a taste of what times were really like at the dawn of the motoring age. The scenery and the small-town flavor are still the same.

Q What are the seven national parks?
Heading south: Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Saguaro.

Q Some favorite spots?
Ear Mountain in Choteau, Mont., where the prairie meets the Rockies. I photographed my first grizzly here—the last place in the lower 48 where the bears are allowed their spring foraging on the prairie. The Oxbow Bend view in Grand Teton National Park is amazing, too.

Q For sunseekers?
Head to Page, Ariz., hang out at Lake Powell, and take the walk to the overlook at Horseshoe Bend as well as the hike in Antelope Slot Canyon.

Q The best landscape?
Out of Flagstaff, Ariz., as you descend from 7,000 feet to the Colorado Plateau, you get a panoramic view of the Painted Desert. It glows.

Q A treat you discovered on the way?
The pie at Thunderbird Restaurant, 12 miles outside Zion National Park’s east entrance.

Photography by Scot Zimmerman

This article was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.