There are an
amazing number of books available
about the Anasazi. There are books about the
who they were, how they lived, and what happened to them. There are
also lots of books about visiting Anasazi country. Many are generic,
focusing on the Anasazi sites that are developed and promoted. There
are many amazing sites throughout the Four Corners area and a good
book is vital to enjoying your visit.There are also a number of
detailed hiking guides full of valuable
information for anyone interested in exploring the wilder parts of the
area. I have read and own many books on all aspects of the Anasazi and
I can't tell you how much pleasure I have gotten while learning from
them. and am a firm believer that owning some of these books
Mesa Area Hiking Guides
Cedar Mesa area of Southeastern Utah offers many different
opportunities for hiking to undeveloped Anasazi ruins and rock art. You
can fins all types of visiting experience ranging from a developed site
with paved access to multi day backpacking trips into desert
wilderness. The best way to develop a plan for learning more about this
area is to invest in one of more hiking guides. The following three
books are ones that I use constantly. Each has its own strengths and
weaknesses which I outline below. If you are interested in visiting
Anasazi ruins in their natural state would will want these guides.
Mesa Hikes SE Utah by Jim
152 pages, paperback, 8"x5"|
Jim Beard has been helping
Anasazi Country for many years. He publishes the website www.anasazis.com where
he provides a
lot of great information.. He is a very serious hiker and has spent
most of the past 20 plus years exploring the area. This book provides
the most comprehensive guide there is to hiking on Cedar Mesa. He
discusses all of the major and minor access points to all of the
associated canyons. The hike descriptions always provide enough
information for an experienced hiker and give accurate information
about hiking obstacles and routes.
This book is for the
experienced hiker not the
beginner. Beard does not provide specific directions to most ruins. In
fact, he rarely mentions ruins by name and expects his readers to make
their own discoveries. Many of the accesses he discusses are
undeveloped in any way and may be difficult to find and follow for
inexperienced hikers. He does not provide GPS coordinates. Beard has
his own writing style which some find difficult. However, the info is
first rate and accurate.
While many find Beard to be
difficult to read,
I love this book and depend on
it for my trip
planning. This book is a must have for anyone serious about hiking on
Cedar Mesa. I strongly recommend supplementing this book with one of
the maps described below.
Hiking Guide to Cedar Mesa by
Tassoni 195 pages, paperback, 9"x6"|
This was the first guide book
I ever had to
hiking in Anasazi country. It features Comb Ridge hikes as well as
covering all of Cedar Mesa and the associated canyons. This book is not
as comprehensive as the Beard guide described above but it is better
suited to those new to hiking in the area. Tassoni provides place names
and directions for finding many of the most spectacular ruins in the
area. He gives a lot of specific data, including GPS coordinated for
many car parks, trail heads and archeology sites. Be aware that there
are some GPS errors in the book and many of his hike descriptions are a
little off. However, in total the book does a good job of getting you
to the best known sites in the area.
The content layout in the book
is a little
cumbersome with all of the GPS coordinates listed in a table instead of
in the associated text. This means you have to flip pages a lot but I
consider this a minor annoyance.
In summary, I think this is the best
book for the
first time visitor to Cedar Mesa. It covers all of the major trails and
sites and gives good basic information for all hikers. Some of the maps
are inaccurate and I recommend you get a good map as a companion to
Hiking Guide to the
Plateau: Non-Technical by Michael Kelsey 384
This book is both much more
and much less than
the two books above. It is a guide to almost every canyon of the
Colorado River drainage. It includes descriptions of hikes in 120
canyons in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. While some canyons have just a
single hike associated with them, many have multiple hikes in a single
canyon so the total number of hikes/trailheads covered is much higher.
This book was not written for
but gives beginners much of the information they need. Kelsey
maps and geologic cross sections for each canyon described. The author
has a very concentrated writing style and he gets a lot of detailed
hiking information into each page. This is a very dense book using a
small type font and very little white space on the page. This can make
it hard to read at times but only because you are getting so many
uses the metric system
for reporting distances in the book. For major distances he usually
includes miles as well but most distances are given as metric only.
Kelsey provides a conversion chart but it is cumbersome if you have to
consult a chart for every distance. Another factor to be aware of is
that Kelsey is an amazingly strong hiker and his personal hiking times
should never be used as a guide. He attempts to provides hiking times
for what he considers an average hiker but I have found that most
actual hikers need longer (even much longer) times than his
This book is a hiking guide
and not an Anasazi
guide so it discusses quite a few canyons with no archaeological sites.
Where ruins exist, Kelsey points out a lot of them. His maps show where
to look for ruins and rock art and his hiking descriptions often talk
of ruins by name.
In summary, this book provides
information about almost every canyon in the region. Accurate
information along with maps and photos are strong points. However, the
information in this book is less accessible than the others and it may
take you some time to get comfortable with Kelsey's style. For an
experienced hiker this is the best choice.
Gulch, UT -
Trails Illustrated Map Approximately 4" x 9"
folded, 26" x
38" opened, Scale = 1:62,500|
I am a big believer in the
value of having and
using good maps and this is the best map available for the Cedar Mesa
area. It covers all of Grand Gulch and most of the associated areas.
Map coverage extends as far East as Butler Wash, so, most Comb Ridge
hikes are on this map. It strikes a good balance between size, scale
and detail and is a valuable tool for hikers. If you are exploring the
areas North of the map boundary you will need the Manti
La Sal National Forest, Utah
map in addition to the Grand Gulch map.
Learning to understand and
properly use maps
is one of the most important aspects of hiking in backcountry areas.
Many canyon hikes are in places where there are no developed trails and
it is vital that you learn to use your maps. This map is a must have.
|Utah Anasazi Canyons - 2014
Cedar Mesa Canyon Atlas -
Hikers TOPO Maps Approximately 8" x 10", paper bound, Map
addition to the
tools available for exploring Anasazi country, this book of maps
provides topographic maps for most of the Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge
area. The 72 page book is almost entirely maps and most pages are full
page topo maps which are organized into West, Central and East areas.
Each area has a larger scale map that shows the full area and defines
the individual maps which follow. In all, most of the maps you will
need to explore this area are in this book.
like this book a lot. It is great to have the topo maps organized and
easily accessible. The book is small enough to be packable, however, I
often photo copy the individual map I need prior to a hike. There is
very little text in the book and it is not a guide to trails.
book has maps to the most popular sites on Comb Ridge but it
not a hiking guide. However, it is the perfect compliment to any of the
guide books described above. This single book will give you most of the
maps you need to explore the heart of Anasazi country in southern Utah.
Anasazi Guide Books
Ancient Ruins of the
Southwest: An Archaeological Guide (Arizona and the Southwest) by David
Grant Noble 160 pages, paperback,
of the Southwest by William M. Ferguson and Arthur H. Rohn 310
pages, paperback, 11"x8.5"
About the Anasazi
of the Old Ones by David Roberts 270 pages, paperback,
8.5" x 5"
first published in 1997, this book has probably inspired more people to
explore Anasazi country than all others combined. The book is a
narrative of the author's explorations of the Cedar Mesa area of
Southern Utah and describes many of his hiking explorations. Roberts is
a very well-know mountain climber and author and he was able to tap
into a network of local experts who helped him visit and describe the
best of the area. Some of the author's musings on Anasazi culture and
their unexplained disappearance from the area are no longer
considered to be likely but in all there is great info in the book.
Roberts struggles with the on-going issues of how to allow and
encourage people to enjoy what remains without further degrading the
experience. He wrestles with this throughout the book and it is even
more important today that we continue to try to find solutions.|
Roberts is an excellent writer with a great
evoke the environment he is describing. This book provides an inspiring
invitation to learn more about the mysterious Anasazi and the
spectacular canyon country they called home.
Ridge and Its People: The Ethnohistory of a Rock by Robert McPherson
264 pages, paperback, 8 1/2" x 11"|
Spine: Seeking the
Anasazi on the First Traverse of the Comb Ridge by
David Roberts, photos by Greg Child 190 pages, hardbound,
6" x 9"|
This is the story of an epic
backpacking trip and Anasazi exploration. Beginning the hike where Comb
Ridge first begins to emerge from the ground in Arizona, the trip takes
three friends northward all the way to the end of the ridge. Most of
this trip takes place in wilderness on the Navajo Reservation and the
logistics of the hike are very complex. Read my full review of Sandstone Spine
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