Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire

Book - 1968
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
An account of the author's experiences, observations, and reflections as a seasonal park ranger in southeast Utah

Simon and Schuster
Hailed by The New York Times as “a passionately felt, deeply poetic book,” the moving autobiographical work of Edward Abbey, considered the Thoreau of the American West, and his passion for the southwestern wilderness.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself by park ranger and conservationist, Edward Abbey. The book details the unique adventures and conflicts the author faces, from dealing with the damage caused by development of the land or excessive tourism, to discovering a dead body. However Desert Solitaire is not just a collection of one man’s stories, the book is also a philosophical memoir, full of Abbey’s reflections on the desert as a paradox, at once beautiful and liberating, but also isolating and cruel. Often compared to Thoreau’s Walden, Desert Solitaire is a powerful discussion of life’s mysteries set against the stirring backdrop of the American southwestern wilderness.

Publisher: New York : Touchstone, 1968
ISBN: 9780671695880
Characteristics: p. ; cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

AnnabelleLee27 Apr 30, 2017

I first read and loved this classic some 30 years ago while in my early 20s and working for the National Park Service like the author (although not in such a remote setting or in such an independent manner). To say this book had a tremendous impact on me and my relationship to the natural world would be a tremendous understatement. Abbey's work is a personal, provocative, poetic, and passionate ode to desert wilderness which rings as true today as it did then (the book was originally published in 1968).
Some of Abbey's assumptions, however, have not aged well and I find his perspective to be colored by the unexamined white male privilege of his time. His views regarding other cultures and of women in general are cringe-worthy and frustrating. That being said, I still find that most of his larger ideas and philosophies are still relatable and deeply relevant in today's world. This beloved book is like a visit with a dear old friend whom I find energizing, challenging, sometimes infuriating, but always inspiring!

Edward Abbey spent summers in the 1950s and 1960s working alone at Arches National Park. The idea he presents about preserving and appreciating nature are still relevant! It might make you a little sad, especially with his story about rafting down Glen Canyon before it was dammed, but overall, it's enlightening, funny and will inspire you to go on your own desert adventure. Recommended by Sarah

NYPLRecommends Sep 04, 2014

NYPL Staff PIck
Ever wanted to live three hot summer months in the desert of Arches National Monument or look for a legendary moon eyed horse that escaped a decade ago. Did they dam Glen Canyon before you could raft down the glittering Colorado River? Join Edward Abbey, an early Park Ranger for Arches in the 60’s as he takes you through his 3 months of adventures in cow country, teaches you a few things about desert wildlife, and sparks a deep love for this beautifully dry and often overlooked area of the U.S.
- Jaqueline Woolcott, AskNYPL

Erin_C_Carr Oct 05, 2012

Abbey is a little crazy, and a bit extreme in his ideas, but hell he's amazing, funny and smart. Moab has always had a special and large place in my heart and this book has a place right next to it. The ideas Abbey expresses in Desert Solitare are still relevant, now more then ever if you ask me. He makes his points in a lovely story of his summer working in Arches National Park (which anyone could be envious of). READ THIS BOOK! It will change your life.

Apr 12, 2011

I've been a lifelong reader and this book is my number one favorite. I grew up in Az and Utah and this book just...its just awesome. I read it over and over again. Love it.


Add a Quote

AskNYPL Jul 30, 2014

“A crude meal, no doubt, but the best of all sauces is hunger.”

AskNYPL Jul 30, 2014

“If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.”

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top