The Capitol Reef Reader


For 12,000 years, people have left a rich record of their experiences in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. In The Capitol Reef Reader, award-winning author and photographer Stephen Trimble collects the best of this writing—160 years worth of words that capture the spirit of the park and its surrounding landscape in personal narratives, philosophical riffs, and historic and scientific records.

The volume features nearly fifty writers who have anchored their attention and imagination in Utah’s least-known national park. The bedrock elders of Colorado Plateau literature are here (Clarence Dutton, Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey), as are generations of writers who love this land (including Ellen Meloy, Craig Childs, Charles Bowden, Renny Russell, Ann Zwinger, Gary Ferguson, and Rose Houk). Their pieces are a pleasure to read and each reveals a facet of Capitol Reef’s story, creating a gem of a volume. Editor Stephen Trimble guides and orients with commentary and context.

A visual survey of the park in almost 100 photographs adds another layer to our understanding of this place. Historic photos, pictures from Trimble’s forty-five years of hiking the park, as well as images from master visual artists who have worked in Capitol Reef are included. No other book captures the essence of Capitol Reef like this one. 

Part of the National Park Reader series, edited by Lance Newman and David Stanley

Stephen Trimble began his writing and photography career as a park ranger, including a season at Capitol Reef National Park. His books include Bargaining for Eden, Lasting Light, and The Sagebrush Ocean.

Table of Contents:
Introduction: Paradise & Slickrock by Stephen Trimble
Part I: The View from Boulder Mountain: The Geography of Hope
1. Geology of the High Plateaus - Clarence Dutton
2. Wilderness Letter - Wallace Stegner
3. Into the Escalante - Linda Elizabeth Peterson

Portfolio: The Bright Edge Photographs - Stephen Trimble
 
Part II: Native Heritage: Culture & Memory
4. Dwellers of the Rainbow - Rose Houk
5. Fremont Places, Fremont Life, Fremont Place - Steven R. Simms
6. Fulfilling Destinies, Sustaining Lives - Rosemary Sucec
7. Seeing Is Believing: The Pectol Shields - Robert McPherson
 
Part III: Exploration: Walking on the Flinty Mountains
8. Incidents of Travel and Adventures in the Far West - Solomon Nunes Carvalho
9. Sights Once Seen: Daguerreotyping Fremont’s Last Expedition through the Rockies - Robert Shlaer
10. Photographed All the Best Scenery - Jack Hillers
11. Gilbert’s Notebooks - Charles B. Hunt
12.  In Cathedral Valley - George C. Fraser
13. One of the Great Trips of the World - John A. Widtsoe
 
Part IV: Canyon Country: Earth Unmasked
14. An Introduction to the Park - Ward J. Roylance
15. Come on In - Edward Abbey
16.  Impracticable Ridges - Charles Bowden
17.  The Neverlasting Hills - Michael Collier
18. A Field Guide to Brazen Harlotry - Ellen Meloy
19. Vignettes from “The Near-Sighted Naturalist” - Ann Zwinger
20.  Feathered Cultivators - Ronald M. Lanner
 
Part V: Home: Listening to the Desert
21. White House on the River - Ruby Noyes Tippets
22.  Pleasant Creek History - Lenard E. Brown
23. Two Marshalls - Sidney A. Hanks and Ephraim K. Hanks Jr.
24. Too Lonesome Down There - Billie Bullard
25. Eating the View - Lurt Knee
26. Landing under the Sleeping Rainbow - Chip Ward
27. The New Face of Nature  - Utah Valley University Capitol Reef Field Station Students
28. The O-Bar Drive - Ray Conrad
 
Part VI: Fruita: Verdant Village, Sweet Sanctuary
29. Pick, Pick Apples - Kate MacLeod
30. The Junction - Franklin Wheeler Young
31. Echoes of Childhood in Old Fruita - Clay M. Robinson
32. Poverty Flats & Paradise - George Davidson
33. Jeweled Jars of Memory - Jen Jackson Quintano
34. High Plateaus - Wallace Stegner
35. Red Rocks and Eccentrics - Renny Russell
36. Charles Kelly - Gary Topping
37. The Forgotten Park: Charles Kelly - Jonathan Thow
 
Part VII: National Vision: Crafting Wayne Wonderland
38.  Fix the Roads, the Tourists Are Coming - Jared Farmer
39. The Forgotten Park: Uranium Mining - Jonathan Thow
40. From Barrier to Crossroads: The Genesis of Expansion, 1968 - Bradford Frye
41. Putting Together the National Park - Lurt Knee
42 Right-of-Way - Jared Farmer
 
Part VIII: Refuge: In the Wild Heart of the Fold
43. Capitol Reef ’s Most Famous Photograph: Minor White’s Moenkopi Strata, 1962 - James Swensen
44. Capitol Reef, Illustrated - Stephen Trimble
45. Shouting at the Sky - Gary Ferguson
46. So What If We All Want Redemption - Ann Whittaker
47. Landscape of Desire - Greg Gordon
48. Rock Glow, Sky Shine: The Spirit of Capitol Reef - Stephen Trimble
49. October Journey - Rose Houk
50. The Trouble with Cell Phones - Craig Childs
51. Discover Your Own Private Paradise - Steve Howe
52. Spoked Dreams: An Odyssey by Bicycle and Mind - Charles Riddel
 
Part IX: Practicable Ridges: Nurturing the Future
53 . Bargaining for Eden - Stephen Trimble
 
Capitol Reef Timeline
Suggested Reading
Acknowledgments  
Sources and Chapter Notes
Index

Praise and Reviews:
“When it comes to Capitol Reef, Trimble’s breadth of knowledge is surpassed only by his passion for the place, its people, and its grandeur. I can’t imagine a better guide through the geological beauty of the Waterpocket Fold nor through the stories of those who have known—and have sometimes been defeated by—the power of the place.”
—Jana Richman, author of Finding Stillness in a Noisy World

"Consider a subject in the hands of a gemcutter: any way you turn it, it will reflect light, depth, and a mysterious variegated understanding more comprehensive and more lasting than a single view can expect to illuminate. Stephen Trimble has assembled a marvelously faceted survey, as essential as boots on the trail, to exploring Capitol Reef National Park. Equal parts science, cultural anthropology (with its lessons in hope and hubris), history, eco-theology, and, if one counts the number of times the word “love” surfaces in these pages, part love letter, this volume leaves no stone unturned or topic in the card catalog unpopulated. But even while it is manifoldly knowledgeable, it also rather delightedly admits that much of the map is still blank, with unnamed windings and washes, chasms and canyons, and the multitude of shapes that stone can assume under the “creative impulse” of erosion—a reminder that this is not only a wilderness, but a changing one as well. From the sedimentary record of human occupation over time to the literal landscape with its “audacious geology,” and finally, to the omnipresent and disconcerting beauty of Capitol Reef, this collection will stir the mind and excite the heart. You’ll be grabbing your pack and boots before the last page settles and, like me, heading back to see all that I missed."
Lynn Stegner, author of For All the Obvious Reasons

“The richness and variety of literature on the greater Capitol Reef region is astonishing, brought together here for the first time. Reading this collection animates the natural and cultural history of greater Capitol Reef. The writings left by the people who have lived in and passed through offer a window into the soul of a place.”
—Jedediah Rogers, author of Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country

The Capitol Reef Reader, Steve Trimble’s latest tour de force, is a red rock anthology that I couldn’t put down. Steve has woven a body of work as fascinating and gripping as Capitol Reef itself. And after immersing myself in the Reader I can’t help but believe all of us can embrace Steve’s optimistic call to preserve the authenticity of our West.”
—Mark Udall, US Senator, Colorado, 2009–2015