Stuff I’m Reading: “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey


Delicate Arch from the Upper Delicate Arch Trail. Photographed 03/2010 at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.

After spending a few seasons as a National Park Service ranger at Arches National Monument (now Arches National Park), Edward Abbey reflected on his tenure. Although written in 1968, I find these words still hold true:

“Industrial Tourism is a threat to the national parks. But the chief victims of the system are the motorized tourists. They are being robbed and robbing themselves. So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of the urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while…

“A man on foot, on horseback, or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles. Better to idle through one park in two weeks than try to race through a dozen in the same amount of time. Those who are familiar with both modes of travel know from experience that this is true; the rest have only to make the experiment to discover the same truth for themselves.”

–Edward Abbey, “Desert Solitaire


About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Culture, General, National Parks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Stuff I’m Reading: “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey

  1. Dan B says:

    I spent some time in Arches National Park working on a trail crew there and I read Desert Solitaire in the evenings. Great book, I imagine he’d be even more disappointed now with all the RVs everywhere and so many National Park completely open.


  2. I have that on my summer reading list…Michelle


  3. neihtn2012 says:

    He is absolutely right about motorized tourists, and I am one of them. We brag about covering thousands of miles and seeing so many parks, in one week! We’ll have to learn to slow down and truly enjoy the sights that nature has created for us.


  4. Jeremy Sell says:

    I do “whirlwind” visits of multiple national parks when I have limited time available, but the best visits I’ve had are the ones that last several days. The three days I spent in Big Bend, the three I spent in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains, the two days at Canyonlands, and the four days at Isle Royale provided the best quality time I’ve had in nature. Abbey definitely speaks the truth here.


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