Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back-Country Hiking In Zion National Park

Zion National Park, in southwest Utah, preserves the most fairytale landscape in the American Southwest, and offers some of the best day hikes to be found anywhere in the region.
The park is divided into two sections: a large square containing Zion Canyon and its offshoots along the Virgin River basin and a smaller rectangle at the northwest corner made up of the finger canyons of the Kolob.

The palette throughout the park is striking, with umber, vermillion and burnt sienna laid across cliff faces in striated competition. The tops of some buttes stand out chalk white where hematite - the iron oxide that acts as the glue in Navajo sandstone - has leeched out with the rains. But one of the unusual features of the North Fork is that here alone, and only well up the crevice, the rockface and sand turn coral pink, a disorienting allusion to a Caribbean beach.

The views are stunning on day hikes: Take the short but steep Weeping Rock or the easier Riverside Walk, where hanging gardens of wildflowers drape sandstone walls in spring and summer. Much more challenging -- and not for the vertiginous -- is Angels Landing, which snakes along a narrow ridge with a drop-off of 1,500 feet, ending at a summit high above Zion Canyon.

Checkerboard Mesa

Temple of Sinawava

Zion National Park's 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs are world renowned for their big wall climbs. Due to their difficulty, most routes in the park are not recommended for inexperienced climbers.
A petroglyph found near the entrance to the park.
The Watchman Trail is a short trail (3-miles round trip) that leads to a viewpoint on top of the first layer of cliffs roughly 300 feet above. This trail doesn't actually take you to the top of the Watchman Mountain, but from the viewpoint you can get a good view of the peak to the south.

The first rays of the new rising sun and autumn storm clouds conspire to create a scene of pure peace and beauty along the the Towers of the Virgin in Zion National Park. The leftmost formation is the West Temple, the highest point in Zion. On the far right lies the Altar of Sacrifice, known as such for the blood-like red iron stains near its top which contrast to the white Navajo sandstone.

The carefully chosen gift of art is always understood to be a treasured gift that expresses personal taste as well as the relationship it honors. These signed, limited edition photographs are available for your holiday gift needs. Simply contact me at to order.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Have Art, will travel.

Looking back on the twelve shows I did this year, it’s been a successful season overall by many standards. In a declining economy, my sales are trending upward (thank you!), and I’ve had better acceptance than ever at art shows. I’ve managed to get into many of the top shows on the east coast, some of which I will apply to again, and some of which I won’t. My new work is pleasing not only you, but me as well. I’ve met some wonderful folks on the circuit and nothing makes me happier than when collectors allow me to photograph the artwork that they purchased from me in their homes and workplace. From a brownstone in South Philly to a vacation home in Cape May, here are four examples of how my fine art photographs can grace your walls, be it in a corporate, residential or institutional space.

So if you’re looking for a unique solution for your blank walls let my photographs of the American Landscape inspire and exude the kind of healing energy that it inherently can carry.

To view my fine art photography please visit me here or contact me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Lighthouses of Cape Cod

"(A lighthouse) is such a potent image: practical, because lives depend on it, and at the same time, utterly romantic, this lonely building on the cusp of land and sea, sending out light into the darkness."
~Jeannette Winterson

There are capes all along the New England coast, but when anyone talks of "the Cape," the meaning is immediately clear. The quiet villages along the bay side, the beautifully desolate dunes of the outer Cape's national seashore, lively Provincetown, and of course, the lighthouses. There is something so comforting about a lighthouse, the notion of saving the lives of hardworking sailors, fisherman, and travelers on ships. The Cape has many historic lighthouses. Cape Cod has had over twenty lighthouses operating along its shores over the past 200 years and today seven still operate and several other decommissioned lights stand along the coastline.

Chatham Light A monument near the foundation of the north tower stands to preserve the memory of Capt. Marshall N. Eldredge and six surfmen of the Monomoy Life- Saving Station, who died on March 17, 1902 trying to rescue survivors of the stranded schooner-barge Wadena.In 1987, a Nor'easter broke through the barrier beach offshore of the lighthouse. The break eventually grew to over a mile. The overlook and part of the parking lot were washed away in the "Perfect Storm" of October 31, 1991.

Nobska Light is located at the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, between Buzzard's Bay and Vineyard Sound. The first lighthouse on the site was built in 1828.

Originally built in 1797, rebuilt in 1853, and replaced in the same location with the current structure in 1857, Cape Cod’s oldest lighthouse is officially named "Cape Cod Light" on the NOAA nautical chart for the region. It sits perched 120 feet above the ocean in the Highlands of Truro. Its beam shines 174 ft. above sea level to give mariners warning of the treacherous sandbars off this shore.

The present Nauset Lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is made of cast iron with a brick lining and stands 48 feet high. It was built in 1877, and was located in Chatham as a twin to the one that is there today. In 1923, the smaller wooden lighthouse in Eastham was retired, and the north tower in Chatham was dismantled, moved to Eastham, and reconstructed about 200 feet from the edge of the cliff near the relocated keeper's house. In the 1940s, Nauset Light was painted red and white as a daytime indicator of the red and white beacon.

Race Point Light is located approximately 2.5 miles from the heart of Provincetown, at the northwestern tip of the Cape. Established to safely guide mariners past the treacherous shoals and strong cross current at the northern tip of Cape Cod, the original Race Point Light Station was first illuminated on November 5, 1816. The light atop the rubble stone tower shone 25 feet above sea level and it was one of the earliest revolving optics, which helped distinguish it from other lighthouses on Cape Cod.

A selection of James's favorite images are available as Limited Editions of a 250 print series in each size. Each print is numbered and signed by James.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life as an Itinerant Photographer on the Festival Circuit

I’ve given a lot of thought to the good people that come into my booth on a summer’s afternoon to look at my work. Some of my images reach out and grab them by the heartstrings, or remind them of a life-changing event. Some of my images conjure up peaceful feelings in the viewer. And sometimes they are looking at a photograph for reasons they can't even fathom. They stare at a piece not knowing for sure why they're staring at it. Some see an image that perks their interest because it reminds them of a place they might have been with a loved one in the past. “Of course, I don’t mind if you look around”, I say. Sometimes they purchase a piece without even thinking about it: an impulse buy on a perfect afternoon. The memories so thick they have to brush them away from their faces. The one constant through all the years is art is a part of our past, It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.

Here is the story behind just one of those images that happened at my last show. I was busy talking to a few folks that wanted to know about a photograph I had on display. While fielding their questions, a second couple who looked like they were in their forties were in front of my print “Gone Fishing”. The man was making hand gestures and the woman had tears running down her eyes. I was hoping that this wasn’t a spat, an argument in the making, but they left before I could ask them if they had any questions. This was Saturday afternoon. Come Sunday morning I’m back in my booth, sipping a cup of coffee while the festival got underway. The same fellow, minus his female counterpart was the first person to approach me. Pointing to the framed piece he said, “I’d like to buy this”. While I was wrapping up the photograph I casually remarked that I remembered seeing him in the booth yesterday. He told me that he had persuaded his wife to leave the house and get some air. Her father had passed away three weeks ago and she hadn’t left the house since the funeral. While strolling the show, they stopped in my booth to browse and it was upon seeing this one photograph that led to her emotions to overtake her. She had loved her father dearly, and ever since his retirement at age seventy, his constant mantra was “Gone Fishing”. He loved fishing so much, my customer said, that his daughter had the words, “Gone Fishing” printed on his mass card, which he took out from his wallet to show me. “She’s at mass and I want to have this hanging on the wall for when she comes home”, he said.

I photograph for a living. I’ve been shooting to make ends meet since I left school. It is my way of surviving, of earning a living and of navigating this world. It is my way of bringing something to the table, contributing what I believe is the best thing I have to offer for others to enjoy. I am also in the business of storytelling. I always have been, always will be. Telling stories, bringing life to characters, devising plots, visualizing scenes and staging sequences of events, images that tell a story. All in exchange for a penny, a smile and a little of your time and attention. And in this instance, a tear.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Legend People

Little is known about the earliest inhabitants of Bryce Canyon, although archaeologists believe Paleo-Indians hunted about 10,000-15,000 years ago in the region of modern-day Bryce Canyon National Park. Artifacts have been unearthed south of Bryce Canyon from the Anasazi Basketmaker period around 700 A.D., as well as traces of Ancestral Puebloans and the Fremont People who likely searched the area for firewood and game animals. Paiute Indians also inhabited the area as hunters and gatherers beginning around 1200 A.D., staying for several hundred years.

In season this area draws thousands of tourists but Bryce is pretty remote - 250 miles or more from either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. So what's the draw?
"They all come for one thing - to see these spectacular rock formations call hoodoos," Ranger Jan Stock said. Just like me. Nowhere else can you find so many curious ... mystical ... otherworldly ... just how do you describe these things?

60 million years ago, this area was covered by an enormous lake. as the climate dried, smaller lakes appeared. Streams ran across, depositing sand and gravel. Over eons, the once-huge lake became completely filled with sediments ... that compressed and hardened into rock. Then 16 million years ago, the Colorado plateau dramatically rose ... uplifted by geologic forces ... ripping apart the land and breaking it into masses of rock. The rushing of the Paria river and the relentless forces of erosion transformed the rock into the hoodoos we see today. But Bryce canyon isn't really a canyon ... it's an amphitheater, carved out of the surrounding plateau ... which still bears its Paiute name: "paunsagunt".

The Paiute Indians who once lived here their own explanation. As told by Stock, the Paiutes said the hoodoos were the remains of the Legend People, creatures who could turn themselves from one shape to another.

“Before there were any Indians, the Legend People… lived in that place. There were many of them. They were of many kinds — birds, animals, lizards, and such things — but they looked like people…. For some reason the Legend People in that place were bad…. Because they were bad, Coyote turned them all into rocks. You can see them in that place now, all turned into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces, with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks.

Hikers from all over the world make the trip to Bryce. Should you go, (and I highly recommend you do) pass Thor’s Hammer, one of the most well known hoodoos in the park. And make sure to stop at the overlook near Silent City, a group of rocks that lives up to the name. The visitor center at Bryce boasts that the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Trail may be the most beautiful 3 miles in the entire park system, and quite honestly, it’s tough to argue with that claim.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Faith and devotion in the Landscape

The four Pueblo mission churches of San Jose de Laguna, San Ysidro, St. Geronimo, and San Lorenzo de Picuris are prime examples of defining cultural identity. With notable exceptions, much recent architecture has ceased to symbolize permanence, sacredness and collective identity (Jackson 1994), yet these characteristics are embedded in New Mexico’s Pueblo mission churches. Today it would be difficult to imagine the Land of Enchantment without these mission churches or the faithful people who fill their pews.

San Jose de Laguna

Pueblo people believe that their link with the land, the root of their existence, is facilitated by the churches. This church hosts the cross of the Laguna religion, which represents the four directions of Creator and Holy Spirit. The church and the material with which it was constructed, is a connection between the Pueblo Indians and their origins: the land. 

 Picuris Pueblo

 San Lorenzo de Picuris

PicurÌs Pueblo is located in a hidden valley of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the village has been continuously occupied since circa 750 AD. The ancestors of today’s inhabitants named this place Pinguilthaî which means “mountain warrior place.”

 San Ysidro

This church was constructed in 1868 and dedicated to San Ysidro, patron of farmers, the church incorporates materials salvaged from the original structure. The building is one of the finest surviving examples of mid-19th century New Mexico religious architecture. It is maintained by the Corrales Historical Society and used for community functions and other cultural events.

St. Geronimo

For over 1,000 years the Tiwa Pueblo people have called this land home. Surrounded by the pine-lined Sangre de Cristo mountains, the 95,000-acre Taos Pueblo is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. Named for the Taos Pueblo patron saint, St. Jerome's Chapel is one of the outstanding National Historic Landmarks in the plaza.

If you go - There are personal dwellings and/or important historic sites at pueblos that must be respected as such. Don't climb on the buildings or peek into doors or windows. Don't enter sacred grounds, such as cemeteries and kivas. If you attend a dance or ceremony, remain silent while it is taking place and refrain from applause when it's over. Many pueblos prohibit photography or sketches; others require you to pay a fee for a permit. If you don't respect the privacy of the Native Americans who live at the pueblo, you'll be asked to leave.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Grandest of Canyons

Beyond the Rim

I first saw the Grand Canyon by the light of a winter moon. A handful of the canyon's snow-topped buttes shimmered under its gaze; ethereal and serene, they seemed to float above the darkened canyon floor. Under the moonlight, the Grand Canyon lay mysteriously, almost terrifyingly, still.

Such quietude is typical of the Grand Canyon. Like explorers of old, one can experience the canyon in a more isolated, and even primitive, state if you know when to go.

Lipan Point

Above a sweeping curve in the river and with views far downstream to the west, Lipan Point is the most dramatic and easily accessible place from which to view the canyon. It's also a superb spot to watch the sunset. The Unkar Delta, one of the park's archaeologically richest areas, is visible directly below the overlook.

Powell Point

The adjectives "awesome" and "breathtaking" are much over-used today, but gazing out over the Grand Canyon from the South Rim is so awe-inspiring that it honestly took my breath away.

Desert View

The Indian Watchtower is at the eastern end of the south rim of the Grand Canyon. From a distance the building's silhouette looks like the Anasazi watchtower it was meant to mimic. The building sits out on a promontory overlooking the Grand Canyon.

Hopi Point

Upon emergence into the Fourth World, the Hopi ancestors entered into a spiritual pact to become to become stewards of the earth. In fulfilling this pact, the Hopi ancestors were instructed to travel to the corners of the land, leaving their “footprints” as evidence of their passing, as they searched for the center of the universe, the Hopi Mesas. These “footprints” are manifest in the form of the archaeological sites, petroglyphs, and other cultural remains that are seen in the Grand Canyon and across the southwest. Clans including Antelope, Flute, Katsina, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Spider, Sun, and Bear, have all called the Grand Canyon home at some point.

Mather Point

To feel the significance of being a part of a world that has carved such greatness contrasted by feeling so insignificantly small in comparison was magnificent and humbling all rolled in to one. Don't miss this experience.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Raven and the Ruins

With the tent set up at our campsite inside the breathtaking and tranquil Hovenweep National Monument, we hiked to the Castle and beneath a canopy of trees we ate our lunch. The air was cool and the sun was setting low in the indigo sky. The staggering beauty of the walls provides stories no photo could hope to create. Out of nowhere, dark, gray clouds blew in, masking the sun and dropping the temperature about fifteen degrees. It drizzled sporadically for about an hour. Suddenly the clouds parted and sunbeams bathed the ruins in light. We were cognizant to all of the natural wonders and beauty of the ruins. I had never been so impressed by an act of nature. In this desert of mystery and mysticism, it felt as if an ancient Anasazi God had been watching over us.

Above, ravens arced across the sky whispering amongst themselves the secrets of millenniums long since passed… "Like a Blessing" I thought, "Like a gift".

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ancestral Voices

It is a cold winter’s day in the desert and I’m about to enter Upper Antelope Canyon for the first time. Our guide Veree Chee' says that to older Navajos, entering a place like Antelope Canyon was like entering a cathedral. They would probably pause before going in, to be in the right frame of mind and prepare for protection and respect. This would also allow them to leave with an uplifted feeling of what Mother Nature has to offer, and to be in harmony with something greater than themselves. It was, and is, a spiritual experience.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is "Tse' bighanilini", which means "the place where water runs through rocks." Upper Antelope is at about 4,000 feet above sea level and the canyon walls rise 120 feet above the stream bed and is located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
I'm here in the winter to escape the hoards of tourists who frequent this canyon every day in season. I'm looking to see, feel and touch the beauty, peace and healing powers of this sacred place. Walking into Antelope Canyon is like walking into the heart of the Earth.

As Veree' leads us through the inner canyon she pauses to play her native flute as we explored the canyon. Listening to the rhythmic swells of her flute as it echoes off the canyon walls is a very intimate and deeply personal experience. It’s as if Veres’ music belongs in this place of reflection and reverence. Listening to her music is a gift that has great transformational potential.

Veree' Chee

Taking in the wonder!

The Eagles’ Gift

But how does a photographer come to such a place and presume to create a photograph? I had photographed Lower Antelope before and always run into the same problem: it's dark inside. You want to photograph the depths of the canyon but the farther back you go, the darker it gets. Moreover, I didn't want to just record what it looks like. I wanted to suggest the timeless inner works of the ever changing Earth that are so obvious inside Antelope Canyon. The Earth is all around you, changing all the time, full of transfiguring energy.
 Technical prowess in photography is both necessary and a potential pitfall. It can often lead to the feeling that technical solutions can overcome all problems. But it is not the necessary application of talent or technology that brings the joy of photography to me. 

For me, true awareness of the landscape comes from engaging the subject on its own terms, letting the atmosphere percolate in while closing off the rest of the world, and entering into a sort of communion with a place. If that sounds spiritual, I suppose in some ways it is. I know, of course, that the land is completely oblivious to, and has no need, for my presence and feelings. But I've always had a strong bond and appreciation for nature's beauty, and for the honor of being in its presence, and I'm becoming more and more aware of how amazing and unexplainable this is.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Art in the Desert

On the way to Death Valley we decided to stop at Beatty, Nevada to stock up on some provisions and just to check out the town. At a campground on the outskirts of town I said hello to this man sitting outside of his travel trailer, enjoying a cup of coffee.  How ya doing? he asked while leaning back in his lawn chair. “I'm doing well thanks, yourself?” I asked. Don't worry about the dog he said, seeing I was eyeing his approaching dog. I make it a point not to pet strange dogs and this one was no exception. Looking like a cross between a mut and another mut, he looked like a bad attitude. I asked the man a question about the road to Death Valley, he extended a hand and said "I'm Tiny", I shook his hand, it was like putting my hand in a hydraulic press, "Jim", I said. “Coffee Jim”? “Sure” I said. Over a cup of good strong coffee he told me "You might want to stop at Rhyolite along the way, it's only about a half hour from here, and it's a pretty interesting place for being in the middle of nowhere". Tiny seemed to be an interesting guy, he looked intimidating as hell but I got the sense his looks belied his personality. Thanks for the java I said, can I take your photograph before I go"? "I suppose" is all he said.

I took Tiny’s suggestion and now we’re in Rhyolite, Nevada, a ghost town off the main road and I’m staring at sculptures that somehow remind me of Cadillac Ranch in it’s eclecticness. A group of prominent Belgian artists, led by the late Albert Szukalski, created a self-described art situation consisting of seven outdoor sculptures that are colossal not only in their scale, but in their placement within the vast upper Mojave desert.

                                    The Last Supper"

Close up of the above

Belgian sculptor Charles Albert Szukalski created “The Last Supper” in 1984; the eerie white shrouded figures almost glow supernaturally against the dark mountains. Szukalski was later joined by European artists who wanted to create site-specific works in the desert. Szukalski and his fellow Europeans loved the backdrop of Rhyolite and the Amargosa Valley, finding it a perfect setting for evocative, large-scale sculptures. Szukalski later added two more sculptures: “Ghost Rider” (a shrouded plaster ghost contemplating a bicycle) and “Desert Flower” (an explosive assemblage of found metals and car parts that blooms upward like a yucca plant). It took the interest and dedication of two artists, Charles Morgan and Suzanne Hackett-Morgan, to transform an aesthetic oddity into The Goldwell Museum. Both had loved the site since the mid-’90s, when they curated a show at the Contemporary Arts Collective Gallery and set up a website devoted to it; when Szukalski died in 2000, his partner donated the site to the nonprofit organization the Morgans created to preserve it.

Ghost Rider

 Ruins of the Cook Bank

Beyond preservation, they sought to establish a studio and residency program for artists to work in and be inspired by the Amargosa desert in the same way it inspired Szukalski. The two created the Red Barn Art Center, a facility for artist residencies, workshops and exhibitions. Starting in 2007, Goldwell hosted its first three residencies. The following year, it hosted nine artists in multiple disciplines from around the country. In addition, Goldwell sponsored workshops and art/design symposia featuring prominent national and regional talent. The first was the “Gathering of Desert Photographers,” a three-day event, bringing together photographers, curators and writers with an interest in the desert as an art space.
What distinguishes the Goldwell Museum from the merely out-of-the-way art oddities that dot the West is its dedication to an ongoing dialogue between artists and the landscape. More than merely preserving Szukalski’s vision, Goldwell extends it, giving artists from across the spectrum the chance to experience the Nevada landscape and incorporate it into their own art, turning the seed of Szukalski’s “Last Supper” into an everlasting feast of artistic possibility.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Death Valley: Beyond the Imagination.

“The spirit of Timbisha has received many travelers from other lands, and all of Mother Earth’s belongings; the home of the Timbisha Shoshone Newe (Peoples), has been used as a commodity of sorts. Timbisha is not a “valley of death” – it is the valley of the Red Ochre. Red Ochre is used spiritually by the Newe with its Healing Power. Not of death but for life. Waters from the mountains to the east and west flow underground into this valley. Overflows of nearby springs once formed streams of surface water by its own course, bringing life.”
- Pauline Esteves, Tribal Elder

The Timbisha Shoshone Indians were devasted to learn that pioneers misunderstood their homeland enough to name it "Death Valley." To the people who lived in the area for more than a millennium, the valley's resources offered everything necessary for comfort and contentment. Traditional brush homes made perfect desert dwellings, allowing breezes to filter in through the arrowweed walls. Men hunted jackrabbits and bighorn sheep, using arrows tipped with stone points. Women wove baskets so intricately coiled they could hold water. These were sometimes decorated with patterns of interlocking shapes or a delicate geometry of lizards and butterflies.

The Timbisha's oral history relates that they have lived in the area since time immemorial -- and, many visitors are surprised to learn, still live in the heart of Death Valley today. To fully understand the valley in all its vast dimensions, it is essential to be aware of of this deep connection between the natural landscape and Timbisha Shoshone culture.

A kinship with the ancients is strongly felt in a landscape that looks much as it did when they inhabited it. Dreams take shape here. Deserts do that. Chimeras. Mirages. Thoughts that begin to form patterns rather than bouncing back at you. Tricks of light that make the veil between form and illusion thin to the point of disappearing. Looking up at the stars, I felt wonderfully small.

Zabriskie Point 

This land is not a subtle place; the effects of the forces of nature are glaringly obvious in the tortured landscape, where rocks have been lifted and eroded, twisted and metamorphosed, then left naked. And yet, in the midst of this climate of extremes (and despite decades of full-scale mining operations in the area), birds and rodents and reptiles and insects live together in intricate, delicately balanced communities. Death Valley even boasts its own species of fish and snail. Over the next few days I explored the mountains, canyons and flats of the park, reveling in the silence, the solitude and the vistas. It could take an eternity to learn all it’s secrets.

The Mesquite Sand Dunes

Beautiful colors in this aptly named Artist's Palette area

It's said that the West was built on legends. And that legends are a way of understanding things greater than ourselves. Forces that shape our lives, events that defy explanation. 

The valley of the Red Ochre is such a place.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Mid-July, 1957. Noon. A ranger at Arches National Park takes refuge from the 110-degree heat under the shade of his house trailer’s  awning, and observes the 12,000-foot-high La Sal Mountains rising off to the southeast. The ranger is Edward Abbey, an unknown writer whose book Desert Solitaire will one day make him famous. In a passage from that book, written nine years later, he recaptures the view from his shaded ramada: "The mountains are almost bare of snow except for patches within the couloirs on the northern slopes. Consoling nevertheless, those shrunken snowfields, despite the fact that they're twenty miles away by line of sight and six to seven thousand feet higher than where I sit. They comfort me with the promise that if the heat down here becomes less endurable I can escape for at least two days each week to the refuge of the mountains -- those islands in the sky surrounded by a sea of desert. The knowledge that refuge is available, when and if needed, makes the silent inferno of the desert more easily bearable. Mountains complement desert as desert complements city, as wilderness complements and completes civilization.”
Edward Abbey is gone, buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in the desert. But the mountains he once looked to for refuge remain on the horizon, just as they have for the past 20 million years.
The forests and lakes in Utah’s second-highest mountain range provide a dramatic contrast to the barren slick rock and sands of the surrounding desert. A journey through Castle Valley and the La Sal Mountain range, reaching an impressive 12,721 ft. elevation, includes both desert and mountain terrain providing a nice visual contrast of red rock and green forests. The La Sal Mountains are filled with aspens, maples and gambel oak rivaling anything you’ll find in the Rockies. The La Sal mountains not only complement the redrock desert below -- they have shaped it as a potter shapes clay. Rising above the surrounding landscape, the mountains mine water from the clouds and store it in snowfields and lakes. Spring-fed perennial streams radiate in every direction from the La Sals, each entrenched in a winding canyon carved through colorful rock. The La Sals are surrounded by a labyrinth of their own design.



The 142-mile Kokopelli bike Trail blasts out of the gates near Fruita, Colorado, with cliff-top trails perched above the Colorado River. Crossing into Utah, the Kokopelli bike trail twice crests 8,500 feet. The last apex, high in the La Sal Mountains, marks the trail's descent into Moab—a rollicking drop of nearly 7,000 vertical feet over 32 miles. Then it follows desert track and jeep roads and on to Moab.

And speaking of jeep roads, high clearance, four wheel drive is the only way to get around out here. Off road tires and a good spare are a necessity. The rugged landscape which surrounds the La Sal mountain range is cut off from the outside world by the Colorado River on the north, the Dolores River on the east, and by the cliff walls of Spanish Valley on the west. Remote, rugged, intact, the entire region retains, to this day, the feel of primeval wilderness.

           The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine

Here's to a New Year filled with exploration!