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Hiking Southern Nevada, Volume One by Tom Garrison
Geographers define a desert as a region receiving less than 10 inches average annual precipitation—an area of irregular and minimal rainfall. Meager rainfall means sparse vegetation and results in exposed geological features. One can think of the raw features as the earth without the makeup of vegetation. Deserts can be stark, creating a drama of space, color, relief, and sheer ruggedness. Despite the sparse vegetation, deserts in the southwest United States are full of life—hundreds of plant species, scores of bird species, and many other animals. The best way to observe the flora and fauna is on foot, far from urban areas.
This guide is about hiking and generally exploring desert areas, specifically southern Nevada. There is no better way to experience the ruggedness, the history of settlement by Native Americans and later pioneers, and the solitude than by simply hiking and exploring. My purpose in writing this book is to enhancement the enjoyment of all who wish to sample the richness of southern Nevada. My wife, Deb Looker, accompanied me on every hike.
This book is a testament to her love of the outdoors as much as mine. Through trial and error from scores of hikes, reading many hiking books, and much Internet research, we have become experienced desert hikers. More than 25 years ago we began seriously exploring the American Southwest. During the first several years we concentrated on areas fairly close to our then home in Santa Barbara, California—the Mojave Desert around Barstow and Baker and Death Valley. We later branched out to Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in south central California. In the early 2000s Arizona became a favorite destination.
Finally, we began exploring southern Utah in 2006. In the fall of 2009, we left California and settled in St. George, Utah. St. George is a great base camp for adventures in southwest Utah, southern Nevada, and northern Arizona. While we much enjoy the grandeur of big-name desert national parks—Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and others—our preference is hard to find, out of the bustle of humanity, slot canyons. Fortunately, the area we choose to live is full of slot canyons.
I wrote the 25 stories in this book to describe the natural beauty where we hiked, and to inspire people to get out and enjoy nature. Go outdoors and relax, leave the pressures of daily life behind for a few hours. These hikes are not hard-core three-day backpacking treks through the wilderness. That is a great thing, but not for most people, even those who enjoy the outdoors.
There are many good hiking books with long, tough hikes—this is not one of them. These are more of “get off the couch or out of your daily rut” and see what nature, plate tectonics, and erosion have given you. These stories and hikes are for the average person/family that understands the value of nature, but never quite gets out to enjoy it. My approach to writing is less formal than found in other hiking books. I’m not above making a joke out of slogging through loose sand or commenting on how rocks in a wash kept grabbing at my feet and that is the reason for my stumbles. Humor and not taking myself too seriously are important parts of my life, and these stories reflect that. At the same time, detailed directions for finding sometimes obscure trailheads, the hike itself, and where to look for interesting features are provided.
Review by Dr. John Crossley (owner and publisher of the acclaimed The American Southwest website and Facebook page)
“Hiking Southern Nevada is a detailed, well researched, and entertainingly written guide to the varied trails in one of the Southwest’s lesser known scenic areas. Tom uses his wealth of local knowledge to highlight the best hikes in southern Nevada, including developed routes in the national and state parks, and off-trail walks in more remote places. “
Review by Steve Dudrow (of Mesquite, Nevada is a Certified Interpretative Guide and Public Lands Volunteer)
“Tom’s relaxed, humorous, and informative trail reviews get you, the family, and the car there in one piece as well as providing the required details to enjoy our beloved southern Nevada geological and archeological treasures. Hiking Southern Nevada is a must for everyone’s car library of hiking guides and maps.”
Review by Mike Donahue (Guide To Casual Hiking In Southern Nevada-JUNE 20, 2018)
Moapa Valley Progress Utah writer and hiking aficionado Tom Garrison recently published a compilation of 25 hikes that encourages outdoor enthusiasts to get out and explore some amazing natural areas throughout Southern Nevada.
The book, “Hiking Southern Nevada, Volume One,” is written in an informative and engaging style that imparts Garrison’s love of the desert outdoors.
Garrison and his wife Deb Looker completed every hike in the book, each of which is accompanied by a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) map.
“This guide is about hiking and generally exploring desert areas, specifically Southern Nevada,” Garrison explains. “There is no better way to experience the ruggedness, the history of settlement by Native Americans and later pioneers, and the solitude than by simply hiking and exploring.”
In addition to the colorful and homespun descriptions of the hikes, Garrison provides readers with a quick overview of the hike including difficulty, distance, elevation and what to expect; trailhead access and vehicle recommendation; average hiking time; distance; fees and permits; best season; type of hike, and the symbols used on the maps.
Several of the hikes are accompanied by beautiful photographs that were taken by Garrison.
To avoid the summer heat, Garrison said he and his wife generally do Southern Nevada hikes between October and April.
Nevertheless, he said six hikes in the Panaca/Pioche area are great adventures during the summer including Beaver Dam State Park; Rainbow Canyon and Kershaw-Ryan State Park; Ash Canyon Trail at Echo Canyon State Park; Cathedral Gorge State Park; Stone Cabin Trail at Spring Valley State Park, and caves and vertical life zones in Great Basin National Park.
Garrison said he and his wife began exploring the Southwest some 25 years ago and in 2009 they settled in St. George, Utah, which they use as a base camp for adventures in Southwest Utah, Southern Nevada and Northern Arizona.
Of the 25 hikes in his new book, Garrison said his favorite is “probably Cathedral Gorge.”
“When you go there and walk around, there are all these little slot canyons,” he said. “All the formations are amazing.”
Garrison’s love of the outdoors is obvious in the narration.
“I wrote them (the stories about the hikes) to describe the natural beauty where we hiked and, as importantly, to inspire people to get out and enjoy nature,” he writes in the book introduction. “Go outdoors and relax, leave the pressures of daily life behind for a few hours. These hikes are not hardcore three-day backpacking treks through the wilderness.
“These are more of ‘get off the couch or out of your daily rut’ and see what nature, plate tectonic and erosion have given you,” he continues. “These stories and hikes are for the average person/family that understands the value of nature but never quite gets out to enjoy it.”
“Hike Southern Nevada” is lauded by Dr. John Crossley, owner and publisher of the acclaimed “The American Southwest” website and Facebook page.
“Tom uses his wealth of local knowledge to highlight the best hikes in Southern Nevada, including developed routes in the national and state parks and off-trail walks in more remote places,” Crossley writes.
“Hiking Southern Nevada” is available on Amazon or it can be purchased at the “Desert Rat,” an outdoor outfitting store in St. George.
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From The Author: “It’s always a pleasure to be recognized for one’s work. My latest hiking book, Hiking Southern Nevada, Volume One won the Sliver Quill (2ndPlace) in the non-fiction category of the League of Utah Writers Published Book Contest.
If you find yourself butt sore in a Las Vegas casino and desire some outdoor fun, consider this book as a guide to explore nature.
About The Author: “I was born the youngest of four children to two Dust Bowl Okies who migrated to Shafter, CA in the Central Valley. I graduated with a BA in political science from California State College, Bakersfield in 1974; earned a MA in political science from University of California, Davis in 1976; and finished all but my PhD dissertation in political science at University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980. I have explored and hiked the American Southwest for more than 25 years. My wife, Deb Looker, accompanied me on all those treks and every hike in this book.”
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