Author Edward Abbey's Solitude in Arches National Park
Abbey's two years as an Arches National Park ranger inspired him to write "Desert Solitaire," and coin the phrase "industrial tourism."
Author and conservationist Edward Abbey loved the desert of the Southwest, although he was born and raised on the opposite side of the country in Pennsylvania in 1927.
The time he spent as a park ranger in what was then Arches National Monument (today it is Arches National Park) in 1956-57 became the foundation for his book, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. Published in 1968, Abbey’s classic reveals his fierce devotion to the desert’s wild landscapes and equally fierce opposition to something he called “industrial tourism” where development, including visitor centers and roads, is the center of people’s “nature” experiences rather than nature itself.
Desert Solitaire has become a must-read for visitors to Arches National Park and for anyone who shares Abbey’s passion for the red-rock desert landscapes of Utah.
Abbey went on to work in a handful of parks, including Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. He died at age 62 from surgery complications on March 14, 1989, in his home in Tucson, Ariz.
“The desert wears… a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act it seems to be waiting — but waiting for what?” – Edward Abbey, 1968