NY Times Style Magazine
Winter Travel Edition 2011
Heidi Mount’s family’s favorite restaurant in Moab is Pasta Jay’s (4 South Main Street; 435-259-2900), which has huge salads and Italian-y entrees, perfect for carb loading before a day of hiking, biking, rafting or most likely all the activities available.
It was a misty May morning near Moab, Utah, and I was marveling at a rock: Fisher Towers, to be exact, an enormous hunk of rosy sandstone eroded over the centuries to resemble the fortress of a hermetic medieval wizard who happened to settle in southern Utah. I had pitched a tent in a campground ($12 a night) in the valley below with an outdoorsy friend. We slept next to the Colorado River. There was an outhouse, a Dumpster and a fire pit.
What had led me to this holiday? Perhaps it was Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness,” his 1968 account of being a park ranger in nearby Arches National Park, which chronicles the seasons he spent patrolling vast expanses of rock and shrub and having passive-aggressive dealings with various critters. Perhaps it was the idea of turning “luxury” on its head: I would wear only Tevas (purchased on Moab’s main street) and worn-out clothes with wicking; the chic local boutique would sell rocks; there would be no shower. Yet what wind and rain had conspired to create over the centuries — crazily beautiful friezes, surreal statuary, squint-and-you-could-be-in-the-Valley-of-the-Gods enormities, and arches galore — would make for a holiday of unreal privilege and glamour. For $12 a night.
And so it was. For two days we hiked through the Fiery Furnace (a reserve-early, permit-only rock maze/metropolis) and Canyonlands with its imposing Needles. Everywhere, everywhere, were jaw-dropping rocks: rocks that looked like wooden shoes, Knights of the Round Table, depressed nymphs, Babar and family. The scale and beauty of the landscape of southern Utah is so astonishing as to be almost oppressive, the way Renaissance paintings become too much to bear when visiting Florence. One seeks shelter after a time. We ate massive plates of eggs and pancakes at the Jailhouse Cafe, a carnation pink, picket-fenced, morning…
Read rest of article, and model Heidi Mount’s recommendations at New York Times Magazine.