Rio Grande del Norte: Two rivers run through it

“Rio Grande del Norte is one of the most enchanting parts of our Land of Enchantment. Our communities welcome this monument designation because it ensures that our irreplaceable natural heritage will be permanently protected for the well-being of our culture, local economy, and future generations.”

-Joe Maestas, former mayor of Espanola, New Mexico

After driving past the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and through Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis, we bumped just over the New Mexico border into Cerro, a tiny town on the edge of the Rio Grande … Read the rest

Volunteer Colorado

Colorado is replete with opportunities to volunteer outdoors. From trail work on Colorado’s famous fourteeners, to invasive species removal, to wildfire risk reduction, if you want to volunteer in Colorado’s open spaces, there’s a group for you. Our first volunteer gig was seed collection with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers. Seed banks are helpful to native plant restoration efforts elsewhere in the state. It’s quiet and calming work, and generally not physically taxing, which was a nice break from the high-exertion trail work from earlier in the summer.

Our seed … Read the rest

Canyons of the Ancients

Through the strength of the spirits, our ancestors built these dwellings here. That’s what makes them so significant. We want to encourage others to preserve these dwellings for future generations to come and observe because our cultural and traditional ways bring the soul nourishment. – Ernest M. Vallo Sr., Eagle Clan, Pueblo of Acoma, 004

Canyons of the Ancients, comprised of just 176,056-acres, contains the highest density of known archeological sites in the country. I feel like we should just be able to leave it there.

Humans have … Read the rest

Bears Ears

Whose Ears? Bears Ears! Whose Land? Our Land!


We were finally headed to Utah, the epicenter of the public land-privatization movement and home to two of the hotspots of the administration’s monument “review.”

Our first stop in Utah was Salt Lake City (SLC) to attend the This Land is Our Land march during the Outdoor Retailor show. Like any good Portlander we will drive hundreds of miles for a good protest. This would be the last Outdoor Retailor held in SLC, as the show was moving to … Read the rest

Vermilion Cliffs

Protected in 2000, the monument houses a geologic wonderland of erosional formations—
sheer cliffs, slot canyons, vibrantly colored yellow-red-orange-purple sandstone dunes, rock outcroppings, mesas and tablelands. It’s a remote and seemingly unspoiled area, and home to many sensitive species of plants and animals. The monument is also home to over twenty species of raptors, and, after being reintroduced in 1996 by the Peregrine Fund, California Condors!

(As an aside, we learned that the condors (and other birds of prey) in the area still face challenges, including lead poisoning … Read the rest

Grand Canyon-Parashant

This monument is vast and magnificently diverse. It includes deep canyons, 30 degrees hotter than the forest, to 8,000’ Mount Trumball with beautiful ponderous pine. It’s also remote and undeveloped. There are no paved roads into the Monument and it would be simple to find singing solitude. The remoteness, vastness and huge landscape-level-protection is what makes this Monument so, well, monumental.

Our exploration Grand Canyon-Parashant began in Nevada, where we contemplated a western entrance to explore Pakoon Springs. A couple we meet in Gold Butte told us a Read the rest

Gold Butte

In far southeastern Nevada, Gold Butte National Monument preserves a remote and rugged desert landscape. Gold Butte isn’t your typical desert, though. It has outcroppings of red and pink rock, sculptural red sandstone piles, mountains rising unto 8,000 feet, and canyons. These features make for a stunning contrast to the desert basin stretching between the Virgin River to Lake Mead.  Scattered throughout the basin and rock formations are amazing reminders of the over 10,000 years of people who have called the area home. There are remnants of indigenous … Read the rest

Grand Staircase-Escalante

America’s Public Lands Embody Our Common Ground: Heritage, Freedom and Hope for the Future.

Designated in 1996, Grand Staircase-Escalante is a serious powerhouse of amazing vistas, cool landscapes, adventure, science and history. Its designation established it as the scientific monument, and despite a serious lack of staff (the monument science staff has gone from 17 to 1 since 2000) and funding (by 2016 the monuments budget was already 1/3 of what it was in 1996), the monument continues to wow visitors, provide grand solitude and be a place … Read the rest

Basin and Range

“The vast, rugged landscape redefines our notions of distance and space and brings into sharp focus the will and resolve of the people who have lived here.”

– Presidential Proclamation establishing Basin and Range National Monument.

The Basin and Range National Monument, created by President Obama in 2015, protected 704,000 acres and is an ecological and geological powerhouse, offering unparalleled opportunities for solitude. The Monument includes two large valleys surrounded by eight separate mountain ranges, and is home to much wildlife (including many threatened or sensitive species) and … Read the rest

Craters of The Moon

My feet are tired but my soul is wide awake – Craters of the Moon 

Craters of the Moon National Monument preserves an other-worldly landscape in Southern Idaho. The Monument was designated in 1924 by President Coolidge to “preserve the unusual and weird volcanic formations” and significantly expanded by President Clinton in 2000 to include the Great Rift zone and three additional lava fields. Because of its expansion, it was included on the current administration’s review list. Just before we arrived, Secretary Zinke announced he had decided Craters … Read the rest