Edward Abbey and the Great American Desert

Chris Clarke over at Coyote Crossing found this old film of Edward Abbey -- an ardent defender of the desert -- that intended to air in 1985, but ended up getting shelved by a broadcast company that apparently rejected his efforts to protect nature.  I read Edward Abbey's Desert Solitude in high school, and have to say that it was one of the few books I loved reading back then. I did not know at the time, though, what the desert would mean to me later in my life.  I cherished the desert's quiet open space, the challenge of an unrelenting sun, and the reward of the most beautiful sunsets. I just took all of that for granted.


Here is another great work on Edward Abbey recently featured in the new ARID: Journal of Desert Art, Design and Ecology.  The piece is an interactive web experience titled "Canyonlands: Edward Abbey and the Great American Desert" that takes you from Ed's arrival at Arches National Park in the late 1950s to the end of his life in 1989, just three years after the film above was taken.  The interactive feature starts with a narrative that asks what emotions the desert should evoke, and how it impacts the human spirit.  The five minute video below contains excerpts from the Canyonlands piece at ARID.

Canyonlands - 5 Minute Clip from Roderick Coover on Vimeo.


  1. Mr. Abbey also believed that the first thing that the government did was build paved roads into the parks- remember the story he told about yanking up all the construction markers in Canyonlands, in "Desert Solitaire?"

    They sure broke the mold with him and Mr. Brower and a few others.

    Folks after you watch these clips, go out and read Desert Solitaire" if you haven't yet, or reread it if you have.


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