Review: Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Edward Abbey (1968)

More than thirty years ago, when Arches National Monument in Utah was a brand new nationally “protected” wilderness, Edward Abbey spent a season there as one of the park’s few rangers. He wrote a book years later, recalling his solitary experience and reflecting on how much had changed since access into and interest in the park had increased. I couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate book for my vacation this fall to Zion National Park, a few hours drive from Arches. This book encompasses more than Abbey’s ranger experiences, expanding to include rich stories of the history and folklore of this region.

During his lifetime, Abbey was an avid environmentalist, and it’s with more than a tinge of anger and sarcasm that he wrote of the state of our country’s national parks. While his thoughts on the method and madness of the US government’s management of national parks may seem extreme to some, I found I shared many of his opinions on how to deal with the conflicting interests of government, tourists and wilderness.

Rule number one: Get out of the car and walk!


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