Over a hundred million years ago, the area that is now Dinosaur National Monument attracted the behemoth creatures of its namesake with its plentiful supply of food and water. Renowned for its world- famous fossil quarry, Dinosaur National Monument is also home to two of the West’s legendary whitewater rivers: the Yampa and the Green. In this new addition to the Desert Places series, river runner and author Hal Crimmel, along with photographer Steve Gaffney, invite readers to partake in the beauty of Dinosaur National Monument’s remote, rapids-filled canyons, and wonder at the unique ecological niches found in this high desert oasis. Gaffney’s reflective photographs emphasize the rough perfection of the landscape; Crimmel’s pensive meditations and his river expertise combine to create a rare point of view, one that ventures into places the guidebooks don’t go. But this narrative is more than tribute—it is a reminder of the fragile nature of desert places. Crimmel lyrically combines his descriptions with an examination of the complex issues relevant to managing public lands—invasive species, tourism, dams, endangered flora and fauna—to address the contradictions inherent in “managed wilderness.” Over four seasons and multiple trips, Crimmel and Gaffney have captured the rivers’ sense of place, creating a portrait of a dazzling high desert landscape that needs to be appreciated and protected.
Hal Crimmel is a former river guide who currently teaches writing and literature at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He is the editor of Teaching in the Field: Working with Students in the Outdoor Classroom. Steve Gaffney is a Los Angeles–based freelance photographer whose work can be seen at www.stevegaffney.com.
List of Illustrations ix
Dinosaur: A High Desert Oasis 3
A Season of Ice: The Monument in Winter 4
High Water and Wingless Protein: A Spring Journey 17
A Quest for Solitude: Summer in the Canyon of Lodore 23
A Short Time to Be There: Echo Park 36
On the Last Free-Flowing River: The Yampa River in August 48
The Season of Fading Light: Early Winter on the Green River 61