Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey


This title is part of BHA's Jim Posewitz Digital Library: Required Reading for Conservationists


When I think of Desert Solitaire I remember a little riverside camp I scraped out of the grass and brush by the Colorado, not far from Moab, Utah, near the mouth of a canyon that’s since been re-named Grandstaff. I was a year out of college and living on public lands: national forests in South Dakota and Wyoming, national monuments in Arizona, BLM lands in Utah, for seasons at a time.

Edward Abbey woke me to the rare and piercing beauty of remote Western landscapes – and the looming threat of their dissolution. Desert Solitaire tells those tales but is also rowdy and profane, funny and sexy. For me the book was the gateway drug to Abbey’s other works, novels like The Brave Cowboy and The Monkey Wrench Gang, essays like Blood Sport, Snow Canyon and Death Valley. I’d be lying if I said that the writing of Edward Abbey had nothing to do with my young and growing conviction that these lands and waters – places owned in common by us American people – represent our most valuable possession, impossible to replace, easily lost … and worth fighting for.

For how can any reasonable individual remain unmoved by Abbey’s call to action?

“This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You’re holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don’t drop it on your foot – throw it at something big and glassy. What do you have to lose?”

-KATIE McKALIP, BHA Communications Director


Purchase Desert Solitaire on Amazon Smile, and register Backcountry Hunters & Anglers as your preferred non-profit to give back to your wild public lands, waters and wildlife. 

About Zack Williams

Backcountry Journal editor

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