I spent a good deal of my childhood on the Colorado Plateau, a high, wind-swept desert encompassing much of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. It is some of the most gorgeous terrain on earth, with eight national parks and several more national monuments. The Grand Canyon is on the plateau, together with Zion's and Arches National Parks in Utah and Mesa Verde, which holds the most spectacular concentration of Anasazi cliff dwellings. There are still undiscovered Anasazi ruins among the thousands of canyons of the plateau.
The population of The Colorado Plateau has increased around the perimeters in areas such as Flagsaff, Arizona, but is still only about a million people in an area the size of California. As you penetrate the interior and find yourself in the red rock canyons or places much like the vast, beautiful, but deadly labyrinth of Witch's Warts in The Righteous, you will enter a wilderness unlike anything else in the world. It is a land of hoodoos, domes, goblins, fins, reefs, and natural sandstone arches.Mountains, river canyons thousands of feet deep, dry creek beds and secret thin, ribbon-like gorges.
I can remember camping under the desert sky near Canyonlands National Park as a boy scout, looking up at the stars as the thin air bled away the heat of the day. Through that desert air, the stars were so close that it felt like I was clinging to the skin of the earth. It was impossible to look up at the night sky without thinking about my place in the universe. I woke up in the night to find gray foxes snuffling near my sleeping bag, looking for bits of food the scouts had carelessly let fall. One turned, his face just visible in the dying light of the camp fire. We looked at each other for a long moment and then he disappeared into the night.
It is no surprise that the desert has given rise to so many religious movements over the years. This is where my polygamists take refuge when the world focuses its frowning attention. It also seems like a good place to wait for the end of the world.