Essays

The hidden fires
The hidden fires
Keeping honest about what we burn and why.
The time of the Indigenous critic has arrived
The time of the Indigenous critic has arrived
Now that the industry is finally greenlighting Indigenous films and TV, Indigenous critics ought to lead the conversation.
The public lands that kept us sane
The public lands that kept us sane
In honor of National Public Lands Day, High Country News staff reflect on access to spaces across the West.
The lone punk rocker of Paonia
The lone punk rocker of Paonia
A musician finds a home among a small town’s orchards and fields.
Can hunting keep us human?
Can hunting keep us human?
In the New Machine Age, hunting helps us accept mortality as truth.
The pioneer of ruin
The pioneer of ruin
Amid a desolate mess in Cisco, Utah, a young woman resurrects a home.
Relittering: Take your trash and show it in the sun
Relittering: Take your trash and show it in the sun
Philosophy teaches us little more than how to confuse our settled opinions.
The arresting quiet of a crane migration in Washington
The arresting quiet of a crane migration in Washington
Sandhill cranes, cattle and the surprising benefits of their coexistence in the West.
A strange feeling of safety for a Black American
A strange feeling of safety for a Black American
Under the gaze of tribal police, a writer finds a new sense of freedom.
After the mountain yellow-legged frog disappeared
After the mountain yellow-legged frog disappeared
A wildlife biologist returns to a childhood stomping ground, devoid of its once-plentiful amphibians.
In this rapaciously dry year, a quiet question grows louder: What are we doing here?
In this rapaciously dry year, a quiet question grows louder: What are we doing here?
Drought, dread and family in the American Southwest.
Saving baby Jo from the smoke
Saving baby Jo from the smoke
A mother grapples with her decision to flee the 416 Fire with her infant daughter.
Monument Valley
Monument Valley
The spectral lines between life and the inert.
In a desert, I learned to fish
In a desert, I learned to fish
Dams, invasive species and roadways. All this, so I could go fishing.
What the Ice Age West predicts about our future
What the Ice Age West predicts about our future
An American creation story.
A bird’s song adds wonder to the world
A bird’s song adds wonder to the world
If a song defines a place, what does it mean to lose it?
The nowhereness of airports
The nowhereness of airports
The way air travel has devolved says something awful about humans.
Your stoke won’t save us
Your stoke won’t save us
The idea that outdoor recreation leads to meaningful conservation rests on a big ‘if.’
Why we tell stories of the missing and murdered
Why we tell stories of the missing and murdered
A crisis continues across Indian Country, highlighted by a forthcoming documentary.
This acequia  life
This acequia life
The irrigation of the land defines our West in ways I can hardly explain.
Frackin’ on heaven’s door
Frackin’ on heaven’s door
How many people over the centuries have loved the Pawnee Buttes, only to see them ravaged?
When boyhood friendships were forged outdoors
When boyhood friendships were forged outdoors
After his friend’s passing, a writer reflects on a life spent chasing fish and toads.
You’re made of the same stuff sloshing around in tidepools
You’re made of the same stuff sloshing around in tidepools
When the tides pull back the water line, a writer takes a trip through time.
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