ST. GEORGE — A new book put out by a publisher in Tennessee has captured the allurement of the Grand Circle, an area of 1,500 miles of the Colorado Plateau, and once again put Southern Utah on the map.
For 100 years, the Grand Circle has been one of the most famous American destinations. The iconic national parks of the Grand Circle are spread across Southern Utah and northern Arizona. Miles of colorful canyons, magnificent monuments and craggy rock formations are featured in the new coffee table book “The Illustrated Guide to Exploring the Grand Circle, Utah & Arizona.”
“It was challenging to decide what to include, what to leave out,” said Joel Anderson, owner and creative director of Anderson Design Group in Nashville, Tennessee.
Anderson said he looked at what was most accessible and stunning in the area, deciding not to include sites that need permits or guides to visit. The book is for all hiking skills or those who simply want to drive and go to scenic overlooks.
The text of “Illustrated Guide to Exploring the Grand Circle, Utah & Arizona” is written by Daniel S. Pierce, a historian, outdoorsman and professor at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Artwork for the book was created by Anderson and his team. It is the Anderson Design Group’s third installment of Illustrated Guides to Exploring.
“Nobody can adequately describe the experience of watching a sunrise silently transform the pale shapes of the Grand Canyon into a glowing masterpiece of immense proportions,” Anderson said. “These iconic places really cannot be adequately painted, photographed or written about. Yet every artist, photographer and writer who experiences them in person feels compelled to celebrate and share their own interpretations of the natural beauty they have encountered.”
In addition to the stunning photography, the book includes illustrations that harken back to the 1930’s travel poster artwork. Anderson said he was intrigued by the romance and adventure of that style.
“I enjoyed the pleasure of collaborating with a talented team of artists – Aaron Johnson, Derek Anderson and Michael Korfhage,” he said.
The 150-page book opens with an introduction, a map of the Grand Circle and some information on suggested itineraries when planning a trip to the Grand Circle. Pierce covers the background of the Grand Circle, beginning with the region’s indigenous history. Some historians place human habitation in the area that is now Southern Utah and northern Arizona as far back as 12,000 years, he writes.
European exploration of the Grand Circle dates as far back as 1540. Spanish explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado sent one of his lieutenants, Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, to explore the Grand Canyon.
Much later, European explorers and their descendants settled in the region. The harsh climate, challenges of farming and ranching and traveling across the Grand Circle region discouraged most European colonists.
By the 1800s, Mormon groups, U.S. Geological Surveyors, miners, ranchers and Army regiments began exploring, mapping and settling the space. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell became the first white man to travel down the entirety of the Grand Canyon on a Colorado River.
The 1900s saw a surge of activity in the Grand Circle, from mining operations and Hollywood moviemaking to a bipartisan effort in both state and federal governments to set aside parts of the Grand Circle as national parks and monuments.
Pierce said he hopes the book will deepen the appreciation of the region for both residents and visitors, as well as encouraging others to visit the “important treasures of the Grand Circle.”
“We hope this book helps all to commit to the preservation of this amazing region for the benefit of future generations,” he said.
“Illustrated Guide to Exploring the Grand Circle, Utah & Arizona” is available online.
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