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The River Knows Everything

Desolation Canyon and the Green

by James M. Aton, photographs by Dan Miller

Hardcover Price $40.95
Ebook Price $31.95
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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Finalist for the 2009 Utah Book Award

"Aton practices his trade at a masterful level. His writing is clear, even elegant. Scholars in various disciplines will consult the book as a summary of knowledge; the prose is equally accessible to the river guide or backpacker interested in deepening his understanding of Desolation Canyon. The scholarship is fine, the writing is superb, and the topic is unique."
—Gary Topping, author of Glen Canyon and the San Juan Country

"In a word, The River Knows Everything is invaluable. Jim Aton has revealed the stories, the characters, and the long-forgotten history of the area. There are no books that even come close to the level of detail on the subject and depth of research that this one reveals. Dan Miller's beautiful color photographs make the book doubly attractive for river runners and everyone else."
—Roy Webb, author of Riverman: The Story of Bus Hatch


Desolation Canyon is one of the West's wild treasures. Visitors come to study, explore, run the river, and hike a canyon that is deeper at its deepest than the Grand Canyon, better preserved than most of the Colorado River system, and full of eye-catching geology—castellated ridges, dramatic walls, slickrock formations, and lovely beaches. Rafting the river, one may see wild horses, blue herons, bighorn sheep, and possibly a black bear. Signs of previous people include the newsworthy, well-preserved Fremont Indian ruins along Range Creek and rock art panels of Nine Mile Canyon, both Desolation Canyon tributaries. Historically, Utes also carved rock art, including images of graceful horses and lively locomotives, in the upper canyon. Remote and difficult to access, Desolation has a surprisingly full history. Cattle and sheep herding, moonshine, prospecting, and hideaways brought a surprising number of settlers—ranchers, outlaws, and recluses—to the canyon.


Utah Westerners Newsletter, July 2010
Book News Inc., 2009



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James M. Aton is the author of John Wesley Powell (Boise 1994) and, with Robert S. McPherson, River Flowing from the Sunrise: An Environmental History of the Lower San Juan (Logan 2000). The latter won the Hundley Award from the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association. He was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar of American Studies in Indonesia (1989-90) and the People's Republic of China (1997-98) and has been professor of English at Southern Utah University since 1980.

Dan Miller is a professional photographer who has worked for most of Utah's major newspapers, including The Salt Lake Tribune and The Herald Journal. He currently designs books and sets type for USU Press. His previous books include, with Michael R. Weibel, High in Utah: A Hiking Guide to the Tallest Peaks in Each of Utah's Twenty-nine Counties (Salt Lake City 1999) and, as photographer, with author Marlin Stum, Visions of Antelope Island and Great Salt Lake (Logan 1999). He is married to Diane Bush.

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  • Hardcover Price: $40.95
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-87421-652-3
  • Ebook Price: $31.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-0-87421-736-0
  • Publication Year: 2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by James M. Aton, photographs by Dan Miller
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87421-652-3
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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