The most recommended books about the Colorado Plateau

Who picked these books? Meet our 2 experts.

2 authors created a book list connected to the Colorado Plateau, and here are their favorite Colorado Plateau books.
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Book cover of Geology of the Canyons of the San Juan River

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Wayne Ranney Why did Wayne love this book?

I’ve been fortunate to have “stumbled” into a geologic writing career and if I had to put my finger on a single book that has the greatest effect on me choosing this path, it would be this little river guidebook. Maybe you will not run the San Juan River (but you should!). Nevertheless, the introductory chapters to the rocks and landscape of Monument Valley and the San Juan River will have you planning a trip there in no time. The chapter called “Permianland” was especially enlightening to me - I have read the first two paragraphs in it innumerable times. Great book!

By Four Corners Geological Society,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Geology of the Canyons of the San Juan River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Four Corners Geological Society Staple-bound Pamphlet 1973. 94 pp. Size 8" by 5" by about 0.25". Binding intact; no loose pages. Covers and pages clean and unmarked EXCEPT a red upside-down "PAID" stamp on front cover and an occasional dirt spot. All text pages are unmarked. Numerous B&W photos, charts, maps, and drawings. Articles by D.L. Baars and Jack A. Ellingsen (both of Ft. Lewis College, Durango) and Gary C. Huber (of Colorado School of Mines, Golden) discuss the geology and canyon structures of the river from around Aneth westward to about Big Bend. The last chapter is the "River…


Book cover of Geology of the American Southwest: A Journey Through Two Billion Years of Plate-Tectonic History

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Wayne Ranney Why did Wayne love this book?

Of all the books I am recommending, this might the one that may be a bit more technical for the average reader. But after reading the other four, I think you will be ready for this comprehensive look at the evolution and development of the Southwestern landscape. Baldridge has written the complete reference to how the very ancient rocks play a role in how the modern landscape looks. Most folks I talk to who have read this were very happy they did so.

By W. Scott Baldridge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Geology of the American Southwest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two billion years of Earth history are represented in the rocks and landscape of the Southwest USA, creating natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Death Valley. This region is considered a geologist's 'dream', since its rocks provide a slice through a huge range of Earth history, and provide examples of many of the geologic processes shaping the Earth. For this reason, the region attracts a large number of undergraduate field classes, and amateur geologists. Geology of the American Southwest, first published in 2004, provides a concise and accessible account of the geology of the region, and…


Book cover of If You Poison Us: Uranium & Native Americans

Bruce E. Johansen Author Of Resource Devastation on Native American Lands: Toxic Earth, Poisoned People

From my list on Native Americans and lethal uranium mining.

Why am I passionate about this?

I retired in 2019 after 38 years of teaching journalism, environmental studies, and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. About half of my employment time was set aside for writing and editing as part of several endowed professorships I held sequentially between 1990 and 2018. After 2000, climate change (global warming) became my lead focus because of the urgency of the issue and the fact that it affects everyone on Earth. As of 2023, I have written and published 56 books, with about one-third of them on global warming. I have had an intense interest in weather and climate all my life.

Bruce's book list on Native Americans and lethal uranium mining

Bruce E. Johansen Why did Bruce love this book?

This was one of the earliest, and best written, of several books between 1995 and 2022 that have dissected the deadly situation concerning Navajos and Uranium.

Published in 1995, If You Poison Us contains both medical information and graphic personal stories of afflicted miners. This book played an important role in accelerating the political drive to get compensation for ex-miners whose lives had been ravaged by continued exposure to “yellow dirt.”

By Peter H Eichstaedt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If You Poison Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The supply of uranium that fueled the Cold War came largely from the Four Corners area of the Colorado Plateau. Some of the richest deposits were found on the Navajo Reservation, where about one-fourth of the miners and millers were Native Americans. For nearly three decades in the face of growing evidence that uranium mining was dangerous, state and federal agencies neglected to warn the miners or to impose safety measures in the mines.


Book cover of Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Wayne Ranney Why did Wayne love this book?

Okay, not everyone can hike the steep trails in Grand Canyon. However, you can do the next best thing and learn geology too by reading this wonderfully crafted book. Crisp and engaging writing makes the blisters fade away. The geologic descriptions reflect the most current theories. Nearly all Grand Canyon trails are covered allowing the authors to cover all aspects of the canyon’s geology.

By Lon Abbott, Terri Cook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


* Part of the popular Hiking Geology series
* Appendices cover additional geologic information for the non-geologist
* Everything needed to plan the trip, including information about permits, lodging and camping, mule rides, and recommended day trips

Etched on the Grand Canyon's steep walls are stories of how this majestic landscape came to be: volcanic islands, stark deserts, and tranquil seas come and gone, and histories of plants and animals that have made this place their home. You'll see this story up close on the trail with the help of Hiking the Grand Canyon's Geology. In eighteen excursions, there's something…


Book cover of Desert Heat, Volcanic Fire: The Geologic History of the Tucson Mountains and Southern Arizona

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Wayne Ranney Why did Wayne love this book?

I used to teach Topics in Regional Geology at Yavapai College (Prescott) and when preparing for field trips in the Santa Catalina and Tucson Mountains, I leaned heavily on this clearly written and engaging book with a fascinating storyline. Dr. Kring brings readers of all levels on a wondrous journey through time in the desert southwest. I think one of the most amazing aspects of the book is that none of the main parts of the story are readily obvious to anyone. Only geologic sleuthing has unearthed them.

By David A. Kring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Desert Heat, Volcanic Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

softcover


Book cover of Volcanoes of Northern Arizona

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my earliest memories, I have been fascinated with rocks, landscapes, and the movement of time. It was perhaps only fitting then, that I should have landed in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1970s working as a backcountry ranger where I discovered GEOLOGY! Since then, my world view has been shaped by the record of earth history that is held in sedimentary rocks, mountain belts, and the colorful and varied landscapes of the Desert Southwest and Colorado Plateau. I am in love with these landscapes and know them well. This love affair causes me to visit other landscapes around the world and ponder their development. 


Wayne's book list on the geology and magic of the landscapes of the American Southwest and Colorado Plateau

Wayne Ranney Why did Wayne love this book?

Who knew there were volcanoes in northern Arizona? Wendell Duffield takes readers on a visual and literary tour de force of this amazing region. The San Francisco Volcanic Field contains over 600 vents and cones with one large stratovolcano, a half a dozen or more silicic dome volcanoes, and hundreds of basalt cinder cones. All are explained in clear, concise prose. And who knew the Grand Canyon had volcanoes too, some of which spilled cascading lava flows into the canyon, damming the river at least 17 times. It’s all here in this little book that has a big impact.

By Wendell A. Duffield, Michael Collier (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Volcanoes of Northern Arizona as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a popular look at the fiery origin of Northern Arizona’s landscape. With magnificent aerial photographs, original geologic illustrations, and detailed road logs to many of the key features, this book is an indispensable tool for the traveler, the educator, and all who are interested in the remarkable landscape of northern Arizona.