Utah…55 years after Abbey

I spent a season in the Utah desert, 55 years too late. Edward Abbey spent a season in a little trailer in Arches, near Balanced Rock, when that was considered truly wilderness, the middle-of-nowhere kind. Last season Arches had to turn cars away for the first time in history. Moab is now full of latte drinkers on mountain bikes, and they’ve darn near destroyed the place (just trying to make Abbey proud here). I truly do want everyone to get to experience the wilderness like I do, just not all at the same time.

Taking my old trusty 1992 Nissan pickup truck on the desert backroads (over 380,000 miles at that time) I was able to find plenty of solitude. Maybe because it was summer, and you’d have to be half-mad to be out where I was, I found plenty of it. I was stationed at Bullfrog, on the shores of the ever-shrinking Lake Powell. May she finally die and become a river again. I’d often bivvy on the desert floor, waking to footprints of coyotes that passed over me in the night. I knew then I was truly living.

On days off I’d take forays into the nearby national parks. I’d sit in the shade during the heat of the day like a lizard, and come out at night to shoot the stars.  I posted plenty of it a couple of years back, but these are the fragments found on the hard drive as I’m determined to clean it all off by summertime. Nothing but new on my horizon…


Upon entering Moab, a once remote desert, now desecrated by the masses


If you sleep at night in the desert, you miss the magic


That orb was so brutal during the day that I couldn’t wait for it to near the horizon


The early morning hours revealed the heart of the Milky Way


Desert pictographs were always a pleasure to find


The moonrise over the desert near Bullfrog 


33 thoughts on “Utah…55 years after Abbey

  1. Turning away cars? Amazing. I love Arches, I think it is a really cool park. But there is so much in the area if people will spread out. I liked Capitol Reef the best and it was empty.

  2. I grew up near here (well, in Wyoming, within driving distance) and some of my best childhood memories are of Dad and Mom taking us camping in these areas in the 90s. Your photos are beautiful. I loved this area so much I took my husband there a few years ago, and he was blown away by the beauty as well. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I drove through that country last summer while reading “All The Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West” by David Gessner. An excellent book that opens up both Stegner and Abbey, showing how they’r both alike and different, but through it all champions of wilderness.

  4. Gorgeous Russ. I have never been to Moeb but of course have heard about it. Yes crowds can really ruin a place. When I’m in nature I like to have the whole place to myself but it is hard unless you really get off the beaten path. When I went hiking in Bolivia last year it was only me, my dad and our guide to the entire park!

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