Where the Rain Children Sleep


Where the Rain Children Sleep

A Sacred Geography of the Colorado Plateau

Michael Engelhard
With new essays and a new preface by the author

256 pages


May 2010


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Inspired by a year of hiking 120 desert canyons, Where the Rain Children Sleep is nature writing in the best tradition of Edward Abbey, Ellen Meloy, and Craig Childs. Much more than one man’s memoir of his time in these canyons, it is an eclectic, well-informed, critical, and in-depth collection punctuated by flashes of humor and whimsy. The vivid thread connecting these essays is the Navajo concept of a “sacred geography.”
Michael Engelhard has traveled and explored the Southwest for close to twenty years. His heartfelt portrayal of this region straddles the fences normally separating natural history, ethnography, personal reflection, and travel narrative. These essays spring from a growing concern that the song of the land, the stories of these places, and the voices of their nonhuman and indigenous inhabitants might not be heard against the din of bulldozers, powerboats, turbines, and four-wheelers.

Author Bio

Michael Engelhard is an avid outdoorsman and essayist with a particular interest in cultural ecology and the symbolic dimension of landscapes. He is the author of Redrock Almanac: Canyon Country Vignettes and the editor of Wild Moments: Adventures with Animals of the North. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.


“[Engelhard’s] poetic descriptions of wet canyons, ancient pictographs, and sandstone cliffs grace every page, along with the Navajo and Hopi mythology that explains how this unique geography was formed. . . . Compelling and thought-provoking.”—Booklist 

“Rummaging around in a brain packed with natural history factoids, ethnobotanical lore, Indian myths and political history, [Engelhard] unloads a writerly cache stirred by memory and spiked with passion.”—Los Angeles Times

“The finest Abbey-inspired prose I’ve encountered since Ed himself. This man is a talented and unaffected writer, an experienced wilderness wanderer and something of a sage—just the gust of fresh air our stagnant nature/travel genre so desperately needs right now.”—David Petersen, author of Heartsblood and On the Wild Edge: In Search of a Natural Life.

“A superb addition to the literature of a place that has inspired a rich tradition of American nature writing. Engelhard mixes natural history, anthropology, legend, and myth into his own gritty and sometimes amusing travels through canyons and down rivers.”—Jack Turner, author of Travels in the Greater Yellowstone

Where the Rain Children Sleep takes us on one of the best jaunts into the slickrock wilderness in decades. There are no mincing steps on this stark journey: These taut essays run strong and clear through these hidden canyons with just the right mix of outrage and reverence.”—Doug Peacock, author of In the Presence of Grizzlies: The Ancient Bond between Men and Bears

"The Colorado Plateau is a place to explore and, figuratively, get lost in. Where the Rain Children Sleep is a good book for exploring the plateau, where one explores the plateau only in the book or takes the book along on one's journeys there."—Tom Wylie, Bloomsbury Review

Table of Contents

Preface to the Bison Books Edition
Skiing Walhalla
Kachinas and Cinder Cones
Beelzebub's Weekend Retreat
Splendid Desolation
This Occupied Earth
Fish in a Dry Place
Death Hollow
Down the River with Ed and the Major
The Unspeakable Beast
In Limbo
Where the Rain Children Sleep
The Importance of Getting Lost
Wild Again
Thieves of Time
A Salt Pilgrimage
Glass House on the Ridge
Selected Bibliography