Desert Solitare Favorites

All quotations from Desert Solitaire by Ed Abbey.

“A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us—like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness—that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.”

“An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches.”


“A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path; let them take risks, for Godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches—that is the right and privilege of any free American.”

“No 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 it’s origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

“If man’s imagination were not so weak, so easily tired, if his capacity for wonder were not so limited, he would abandon forever such fantasies of the supernatural. He would learn to perceive in water, leaves, and silence more than sufficient of the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him for the loss of ancient dreams.”

“Feet on earth. Knock on wood. Touch stone. Good luck to all.”

1 thought on “Desert Solitare Favorites”

  1. Since reading this, Ed Abbey has come up in my life several times, and I’d never heard of him before. A selection from this book is being reprinted in two of the textbooks I publish, and we read one of his pieces in class the other day. Thanks for bringing him to my attention!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *