“COME ON IN”
The canyon country of southern Utah and northern Arizona is something special. Something else. Something strange, marvelous, full of wonders. So far as I know, there is no other region on earth much like it, or even remotely like it. Nowhere else have we had this lucky combination of vast sedimentary rock formations exposed to a desert climate, of a great plateau carved by major rivers — the Green, the San Juan, the Colorado — into such a wonderland of form and color. Add a few volcanoes, the standing necks of which can still be seen, and cinder cones and lava flows, and at least four separate laccolithic mountain ranges nicely distributed about the region; add more hills, holes, humps and hollows, more reefs, folds, salt domes, swells and grabens, more buttes, benches and mesas, more synclines, monoclines and anticlines than you can ever hope to see and explore in one lifetime, and you begin to arrive at an approximate picture of the Plateau’s surface appearance.
An approximate beginning. A picture framed by sky and time in the world of natural appearances. Despite the best efforts of a small army of writers, painters, photographers, scientists, explorers, Indians, cowboys, and wilderness guides, the landscape of the Colorado Plateau lies still beyond the reach of reasonable words. Or unreasonable representations. This is a landscape which has to be seen to be believed, and even then, confronted directly by the human senses, it strains credulity and retreats a little beyond complete belief.
The canyon country does not always inspire love. To many it appears barren, hostile, repellent; a fearsome, mostly waterless land of rock and heat, sand dunes and quicksand, of cactus, thornbush, scorpion, rattlesnake and agoraphobical distances. To those who see our land in this way the best reply is, “Yes, you are right, it is a dangerous and terrible place. Enter at your own risk. Carry water. Avoid the noonday sun. Try to ignore the vultures. Pray frequently.”