288 pages, illustrations, tables
This ambitious book will enthrall armchair naturalists and river runners alike, offering a stunning tour through the natural, environmental, and human history of Cataract Canyon, a seventeen-mile run of free-flowing river above Lake Powell in the canyonlands of southern Utah. Setting the stage with preliminary chapters on geology, hydrology, prehistory, geography, biology, and river-running history the authors take the reader on a "downriver journey," narrating an exploration of the river that is breathtaking in scope. From the plants and animals that live along its banks to the humans who seek out its rapids, from the wind and water that continue to shape the landscape to the government agencies that seek to control it, all of these become stories woven into the larger fabric of a beautiful, fragile, complex ecosystem where change good or bad is inevitable."
"Cataract Canyon is a book of scientific and emotional integrity. Consider it a passport for anyone entering this particular stretch of the Colorado River with their eyes wide open for a joyous pilgrimage."
– Terry Tempest Williams, author of Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert
"Cataract Canyon is a labor of experts who love not only the river and everything about it, but who are able to faithfully record the facts without diminishing the mystery of how it all folds together and thereby unfolds in the human mind and eye. A more comprehensive collection of natural, environmental, and human history is hard to imagine [...] The knowledge imparted in this book is endless and endlessly fascinating."
– The Times-Independent, Moab
List of Tables
List of Illustrations
1. Geography and Prehistory
The Plethora of Names and the First Inhabitants of Canyon Country
2. "We Decide to Name This Cataract Canyon"
A Brief River Running History of Cataract Canyon
3. The Twisted Rocks and the River
Geology and Hydrology of Cataract Canyon
4. A Hard Place to Make a Living
The Plants and Animals of Canyonlands
5. Very Flat Water
The Approaches to Cataract Canyon
6. The Center of the Universe
The Confluence of the Green and the Grand
7. Sliding Slopes and Running Rapids
The First Twelve Rapids and Tilted Park
8. Hell to Pay
Mile Long Rapid and Big Drops
9. Cathedrals in Mud
An Elegy to Drowned Cataracts and Impressive Slide Canyons
10. "The Strange and Impressive Scenery"
Common Threads among the Canyons of the Colorado River
About the Authors/Contributors
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Robert H. Webb is a research advisor with the U.S. Geological Survey in Tucson, Arizona. Jayne Belnap is a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Moab, Utah. John Weishiet is a senior river guide and co-founder of Colorado Plateau River Guides, which publishes the journal The Confluence.