Utah ©Author Adventures
Southern Utah ©Author Adventures

Edward Abbey, Writer-Protector of the Southwest

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) is best known as a poet, philosopher, essayist, novelist, and artist who recognized and endeavored to preserve the raw beauty of Utah through his writing.

According to https://wildaboututah.org/edward-abbey: “He moved to Utah in 1956 to take a job as a ranger in Arches National Monument. During his time in Arches, he created a multi-volume journal of his experiences. He later collapsed the journal material from three seasons into one season to produce one of the bestselling books on nature ever written, Desert Solitaire... Abbey died in 1989, perhaps in part a victim of his own hard living. As he requested, he was placed in an old sleeping bag and buried beneath a pile of rocks to keep the coyotes away with ‘No comment’ engraved on his gravestone.”

Numerous articles have been published about the contradiction between his words and his behavior. A telling example can be found here: https://www.desertusa.com/desert-people/edward-abbey.html.

In addition to Desert Solitaire (1968), a bestselling novel and probably the most famous work of Edward Abbey is the The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), which cried out about the Glen Canyon Dam’s impact on the natural environment.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” — Edward Abbey

If you like Abbey’s writings, you might also like to read and visit the places connected to John Graves in TexasMarjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida, Rachel Carson in Maryland, and Henry David Thoreau in Massachusetts.

Arches National Monument

Long past the publication of Edward Abbey’s works, Arches National Monument, which is within a national park five miles north of Moab on US 191, annually attracts tourists and photographers, especially between March and October. Read about it here: https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm. Popular places within the park include Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers, Balanced Rock, Wolfe Ranch, and the Windows Section.

Traveling south-north, Arches National Monument is the first stop on the Author Adventures Utah Trail.

Patricia Smart