The Proper Edge of the Sky: The High Plateau Country of Utah

Edward Geary is noted for the power and warmth of his writing about Utah country. The Proper Edge of the Sky will do much to enhance that reputation. It mixes geology, geography, biology, history, and folklore into an engaging narrative that draws the reader through the complex patchwork of geological and human mountains, canyons, faults, and monoclines that makes up Utah’s High Plateaus.

Properly speaking, the High Plateaus, as Geary points out, are “a group of elevated tablelands that form the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin” (2). To those whose spatial sense is informed more by highway tourist maps than geological charts, the High Plateaus stretch south from Nephi, Utah, to the Colorado River and east from Sevier Lake to the Green River. They include chains of mountains built of uplifted horizontal strata. Because the strata are more or less flat, they are often not sharp and jagged at their higher elevations, but rather stretch into expansive “parks” and tablelands. As the late Wallace Stegner put it, these “‘are not mountains at all but greatly elevated rolling plains'” (8). The Gunnison and Wasatch Plateaus stretch south to nose into the Pavant, Fishlake, and Thousand Lake Plateaus. The Sevier, Aquarius, and Hurricane Cliffs Plateaus continue to where they begin to break into the Pink, White, and Vermilion Cliffs that drop past the Kanab, Kaibab, and Kaiparowits Plateaus to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. There is, simply stated, not a more “strange and beautiful country” on earth.

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