| Trail Guides | Maps
| Hiking and Camping | Natural
History | Environmental Issues |
Living | Politics/Democracy | Edward Abbey |
Books included in the list below all contain
subject matter which deals with the desert southwest, the outdoors, natural history or
other topics of interest to the author. I have found that the more you learn about a place
the more you see, the deeper your understanding becomes, and the more it becomes a part of
you. A rating system (1-5 stars) has been included based on my own subjective and
opinionated viewpoint, which you can ignore or attach unwarranted importance to as you see
Books on hiking are a good way to find some good
places to explore since there are usually descriptions of areas and pictures.
are not a substitute for maps however, so it is a good idea to purchase a map of the area
you will be visiting (one that encompasses the driving route you will be taking is
preferable, since it may save many fruitless hours of searching for a trail or route
entrance). Many of the hiking books sold through outfitters seem to be written for
people who prefer very short day hikes (3-7 miles) making them fairly useless, though you
may be able to employ them to piece together a real hike.
Mazel, David, Arizona Trails - 100 Hikes in Canyon and Sierra, Wilderness
Press, Berkley, CA, 1992
This was the first hiking book I purchased after moving
to AZ and it has proved to be one that I continue to reference (though it's looking a
little ratty these days). Hikes from the Grand Canyon to the Chiricahuas (including many
longer ones) are described in detail and include trail lengths, elevation changes, natural
history, trail descriptions, best times to hike and photos. Maps are also included,
but are cropped in odd placed and have to be read across several pages making them
difficult to read (I have gotten lost using only this book, so carry a separate map as
well). This book may no longer be in print.
Kelsey, Michael, Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado
Plateau - 5th edition, Kelsey Publishing, Provo Utah, 2006
This is the definitive canyon hiking book out
there. The book outlines 120 hikes mostly in southern Utah
(including Canyonlands, Arches NP, Grand Staircase Escalante, Paria
River, Zion NP and others), northern Arizona (Grand Canyon NP,
Navajo Nation and West Clear Creek), as well as a few hikes in
Colorado. It provides a tremendous amount of information for its
size (maps, geology, photos - the works) all in a great, easy to
reference format. Many people have strong opinions of this book - I
have to confess it's one of my favorites.
With the release of the 5th addition, Canyon Hiking
Guide to the Colorado Plateau is now all in color and contains many
excellent photographs that make for good browsing as well as for use
to help plan the best places to visit. Like Michael’s other books
this one provides a high return for the money. It’s a must-have for
anyone interested in venturing into the canyon country. Be aware,
however, that the book contains some idiosyncrasies that take some
getting used to:
Some descriptions are brief - the phrase "route find east to the
next canyon" may encompass several hours of nasty bush whacking
and a thousand foot elevation gain. This brevity may also lead
to difficulty in following described routes or finding trail
Michael is a hard core hiker - if he uses the words steep, long,
difficult or narrow, you can safely add the qualifier
"extremely" before each of these adjectives. In cases where he
lists the length of time it took for him to complete a
particular hike, multiply that time by 1.5 or more to determine
how much time you may want to allot.
any book, information becomes dated over time. Actual hiking or
road conditions may have changed since the hike was written up.
Kelsey, Michael, Hiking and Exploring the Paria River -
5th edition, Kelsey Publishing, Provo Utah, 2010
With the release of the 5th edition, Michael has
greatly expanded his Paria book to include a number of
technical canyons in the Paria area. Like his other
books, this one is now all in color. With the many
photographs throughout the text it makes for pleasant
browsing on the couch when it’s not possible to get away
for a hike. In addition to extensive information about
hiking the Paria River and Buckskin Gulch, the book
covers a significant area to the north along Cottonwood
Wash Road in the Grand Staircase National Monument as
well as Bryce Canyon and other areas.
The book contains a bit of something for anyone who
might be interested in the outdoors or historic areas.
Along with many hiking routes, the book now contains a
number of technical canyons for the more adventurous
explorers. You will also find it to be the best resource
for many unique natural features (hoodoos, arches and
rock formations) and man-made features (from Mormon
settlers and earlier) that photographers will enjoy.
Michael has also done quite a bit of investigation into
the history of the area, and includes information and
photographs throughout the text that adds depth and
context to the sites seen when traveling in the region.
I’ve yet to find a better book for the Paria River,
certainly nothing that approaches this book’s
comprehensive scope. It should also be noted that the
price ($13.57 on Amazon as I write this) is a steal.
Technical Slot Canyon Guide to the Colorado Plateau – 2nd
Kelsey Publishing, Provo Utah, 2008
This is the authoritative guide to technical slot canyons on the
Colorado Plateau and includes canyons suitable for a range of skill
levels from beginner to expert. The book covers canyons throughout
northern Arizona and southern Utah (and two in Colorado), and while
the canyons are mostly sandstone in composition, they are fairly
diverse in terms of water, features, technical challenges, and
appearance. They also include some of the most beautiful canyons to
be found. I learned of canyons and got my start in the sport of
canyoneering by reading an earlier edition of this book and visiting
the locations listed. Michael puts out editions faster than I can
keep up though and I suspect it will be some time before I get to
all the places in this version.
The book includes 75 descriptions comprising well over 100 canyons
with color photos. The maps are hand drawn and will get you where
you’re going, but as with any guidebook, you’ll want to carry full
USGS 1:24,000, 7.5 minute topographic maps for the added detail they
provide. Also be aware that some of the canyons included in this
edition are very difficult, requiring difficult climbing, high
stemming, and deep pothole escapes. Read the description closely to
make sure it is suitable for your experience.
For those willing to develop the requisite skills to complete them,
the Technical Slot Canyon Guide will provide many days of
Boater’s Guide to Lake Powell – 5th edition,
Kelsey Publishing, Provo Utah, 2008
Not everyone who ventures onto Lake Powell just wants to fish, drink
and sunbathe. For the rest, there are many things to see and do from
the lake, many of which can be found in the Boater’s Guide
including: hiking, camping, canyoneering, archeological sites and
tons of great scenery. The trips range from easy hikes to hard core
In addition, Michael has included information for boaters (marinas,
launch sites, fuel) camping and hiking tips as well as historical
and geological information about the area. The book is now all in
color which highlights the photographic opportunities to be had.
Hand drawn maps are included throughout the text, but I found it
helpful to have a GPS and detailed lake map with coordinates since
the shoreline is so complex I find it hard to orient myself to the
Hiking and Exploring Utah's Henry Mountains and Robbers Roost - 3rd
Kelsey Publishing, Provo Utah, 2009
This is the only guidebook to the technical slot
canyons of the Robbers Roost area on the market. I’ve only done a
few canyons in the area so far, but they’ve all been remarkably
scenic. Robbers Roost also features the Great Gallery, which is one
of the best pictograph panels around. Although the bulk of the book
is dedicated to canyoneering, the book also features some hikes in
the Henry Mountains. I used this guide to climb Mt. Ellen a few
years ago as a way to escape the heat of the desert. On a summer day
projected to hit 110 F, we actually experienced a little sleet on
the 11,500 ft summit of Mt. Ellen. The last section of the book
details the history of the area including the exploits of Butch
Cassidy and the Wild Bunch in the 1880s-90s.
This 3rd edition is all in color and features great photographs
throughout, including many historic pictures of early inhabitants of
the region. Hand drawn maps are included for all hikes which include
profile views for the canyons (which is a very handy way to get an
overview of the canyon at a glance).
Kelsey, Michael, Hiking and Exploring Utah's San
Rafael Swell - 3rd edition, Kelsey Publishing, Provo Utah, 1999
Another great Kelsey book. Not so many hikes as the
publication above, but still well worth the sticker price.
Annerino, John, Hiking the Grand Canyon, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco,
I use this book as a reference for every Grand Canyon
backpacking trip (mainly for the trail mileage information). This book also contains
trail descriptions, natural history, canyon history, geology and a dose of environmental
protection info as well. You have to skip around in the book to find the information
you are looking for, but it's a good reference.
Allan, Steve, Canyoneering 1, 2 & 3, University of Utah
Press, Salt Lake City, UT, 1992
This series of books covers:
1: San Rafael Swell
2: Technical Loop hikes in Southern Utah
3: Loop Hikes in Utah's Escalante
Many interesting canyons are described, including many technical
hikes. I have heard high praise for Steve's books, and the
descriptions (when I have used them) are quite thorough. Because
specific hikes/canyons are difficult to reference, there are no maps
to speak of, and most of these canyons are covered by Michael
Kelsey, I don't really use these books very much for hike planning
(except perhaps as another source of descriptive info where Kelsey
is brief). Maybe I'll get into them more at some point, but will
have to summon the effort to break out the maps and follow along as
the author describes a particular route.
Day Hikes from the River: A Guide to Hikes from Camps Along the
Colorado River in Grand Canyon – 4th edition,
Vishnu Temple Press, 2010
This book is a very good resource for those rafting Grand Canyon who
want to see all the best places along the way. It also is a great
guide for technical canyoneers looking for information on remote
Canyon locations. The photos and maps are rather low quality, but they
convey the necessary information.
Cosmic, Ray, The Favorite Hikes, Flagstaff &
Sedona, Cosmic Ray, Flagstaff, AZ, 1996
More of a pamphlet than a book, a bunch of short hikes
are described along with some pretty good hand drawn maps. You can get some good ideas for
placed to go, but you'll have to bang out 3 or 4 of his hikes for them to add up to a full
day of walking. Directions to the trailheads are good.
Tonto National Forest, US Forest Service Map
Encompasses a very large area some of which is not
covered in other maps, however, like most USFS maps they are made of paper, do not have
topo markings, do not have trail mileage and are difficult to read.
Sessions, George (editor), Deep Ecology for the 21st Century, Shambhala
Publications, Boston, 1995
A collection of philosophical essays that examine mans
relationship with the natural world and the concept of 'Deep Ecology' an ecocentric rather
than anthropocentric way of viewing the world. Many essays are very good and thought
provoking & may help crystallize your own thoughts or feelings.
Meadows, Donella H., Meadows, Dennis L., Randers Jorgen,
Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse Envisioning a
Sustainable Future, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, Vermont,
The authors treat the earth as a system examining
such variables as: population, lifespan, raw materials, industrial
output, pollution, food production, technology and standard of living.
They look at the current and future state of each variable and attempt
to model their complex interactions. They analyze a host of possible
future outcomes using various assumptions as to population growth, the
availability of undiscovered resources etc. The resulting models most
often show overshoot and unsustainable use of available resources,
resulting in environmental and economic collapse. The authors advocate
for fundamental changes in the way the human population lives
(particularly those in the developing world) to move towards a
Pigs at the Trough, Crown Publishers, New York, 2003
Outlines the closed loop
process of corporate greed and political contributions that are
subverting democracy and bankrupting the small investor. Very lively,
funny and maddening to read.
Stauber, John; Rampton,
Sheldon, Toxic Sludge is Good For You (Lies,
Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry), Common Courage Press,
Many groups, industries and
think tanks would like to influence your opinion to suit their needs.
The book explains who these groups are and the techniques they use,
enabling you to recognize their lies for what they are. A serious issue?
Definitely, but also an entertaining and enlightening read.