I just had to respond to “Chasing After Edward Abbey” (Christopher Reynolds, May 19). Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire” is one of the most accurate depictions of nature I have ever read.
Also super photo of Arches National Park by Reynolds. I was pleased to see the Travel section could devote that much space to show its magnitude. Those large photo spreads add a lot to the section. Thank you.
I enjoyed reading Reynolds’ piece on Abbey. Like Reynolds, I fell in love with his writing when I was in my 20s, although I never met him. I did work as a seasonal National Park Service ranger at Natural Bridges National Monument, a tiny park south of Arches, in 1980. I enjoyed reading Abbey that summer and exploring the fantastical parks, rivers and wild lands of the Colorado Plateau.
I recently pared down my Abbey library, setting aside for donation a few volumes that were less inspiring to me, but keeping several of his essay collections, including “The Journey Home.”
Who can forget stories such as “Disorder and Early Sorrow,” in which he describes an ill-fated off-road trip in Big Bend National Park, destroying his fiancée’s new Ford convertible and his relationship along the way?
On a lighter note, Reynolds’ story has inspired me to think about a road trip down my own memory lane in southeastern Utah, where I spent a glorious summer in God's (and Abbey’s) country.
Thanks for Sara Cagle’s two travel pieces (“Where Blooms Are Still Wild,” “On the 101, a Trove of Treasures,” May 19). We go to southwestern Colorado two or three times a year because my kids live there. May I note that she missed some of the best scenery and drives
►We skip Vegas and spend the night in St. George, Utah. The next day, veer right to Hurricane and drive through Zion National Park, a stunning drive. Better yet, skip St. George and spend the night at the lodge in the national park. Then connect to U.S. 89 north, parallel to Interstate 15, but who wants to drive on an interstate when you are in that gorgeous country and can take the much more scenic 89? (If you must go on I-15, there are lots of speed traps.) If you are in a hurry, take 89 straight to Interstate 70.
Better to turn off 89, go right on Utah 12 and visit Bryce Canyon National Park. Or drive through if you are in a rush. Stay on 12, a beautiful drive, and go to Capitol Reef National Park, one of my favorite parks. Drive through it if you must. Stop and pick apricots at the honor orchards. Go to Hanksville and turn onto Utah 24. Don't neglect the vineyards near Fruita.
►Forget about Crested Butte. If you must see that area, take I-70 to Glenwood Springs, a beautiful drive along the river and through the canyons. Head south to Carbondale. You are not far from Aspen, but skip it. Go south on Colorado 133 to Redstone and Marble. Really interesting old towns with lots of specialty shops worth seeing. Visit Redstone Castle. Gorgeous drive down through Paonia and Hotchkiss. Like Switzerland. Some nice wineries there.
When you come out on U.S. 50, you can turn left to Gunnison if you must. Better to turn right and stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnision National Park not far before Montrose.
From Montrose, go south to Ridgway, but do not stay on U.S. 550. Take Colorado 62 and 145 and get ready for what is, in my opinion, the most scenic drive in the country, Ridgway to Dolores. Spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains.
You will go right past Telluride, and one would be crazy not to spend some time there. It is a one-street old cowboy town, perhaps one of the best ski resorts in the country in the winter, a fun place to visit in the summer with every kind of festival: hang gliding, mushroom, jazz, chamber music, wine. If you have four-wheel drive, it is the best four-wheeling in the country, 600 miles of old mining trails way up into the mountains. By the way, the best wildflowers are at the high elevations up there.
After spending a few days (or weeks) there (the highlight of the whole trip), return to 145, go through Lizard Head Pass, Rico (nice backwoods hotel and restaurant), stunning scenery.
►From Cortez, take U.S. 160 indicated. Stop at Kayenta, Ariz., one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in North America (dates to about 1100). But at Cameron, Ariz., don't go to Flagstaff. Get on Arizona 64 and go to the Grand Canyon. Stay at the lodge on the South Rim if you make reservations way in advance.
And I completely disagree with the U.S. 101 venture. Take Interstate 5 to Interstate 580, then Interstate 680, then north to Napa wineries. Go on the Silverado Trail (not California 29) to Calistoga. California 128 is a beautiful drive to Geyserville (skip Healdsburg). Cloverdate, Boonville, Navarro and the Redwoods National and State Parks. You come out just south of Mendocino.
Drive California. 1 along the coast to Albion, Elk, Timber Cove, Jenner, turn inland on Calfiornia 116 into the heart of the Sonoma and Russian River wineries. To go to Duncans Mills and Guerneville, work your way through vineyards to U.S. 101. Or stay on 1 down the coast through Bodega Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore, over the Golden Gate and back home on 101, with lots of interesting stops along the way.
Readers might be interested to know that the Owens Valley Radio Observatory will be holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 8. The observatory’s website states: "Tour of one of the world’s premier radio observatories, learn how radio telescopes work, find out about current astronomy projects. Water will be available. Directions: Just north of Big Pine, turn east off Highway 395 onto Highway 168. Go 2 1/4 miles, then turn left onto Leighton Lane. Go 4 miles north and through the gate. Follow the sign toward the big telescope.” For more information, visit bit.ly/owensvalleyradioobservatory