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'Beyond Parks' offers a few gems

LITTLE-KNOWN SOUTHWEST: OUTDOOR DESTINATIONS BEYOND THE PARKS, by Barbara & Don Laine; The Mountaineers Books; 2001; 272 pages; $16.95.

This new outdoor book just doesn't live up to its title.

Now it may be that I'm too familiar with the four-state territory covered in the book. I had hoped, however, this guide book would contain new and amazing — albeit obscure — places to explore. (But I didn't come away totally empty-handed; the book did outline one intriguing place — Canyon de Chelly, east of the Grand Canyon — that I'd never heard of before.)

Newcomers to the West, or those who haven't yet explored beyond the boundaries of their home state, should find this book all it is cracked up to be — a look at OTHER great outdoor places beyond the well-known national parks in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

The book begins with some background of the four-state area, plus some ethics and safety guidelines. (A photo of a rattlesnake warning sign is included in this section, the first-such sign I've seen.)

There are plenty of maps in the book to ensure no one gets lost trying to find these various national monuments, national forests or historical park spots. A sprinkling of good black and white photographs also livens up the book.

This book, written by Don and Barbara Laine of northern New Mexico, doesn't ignore the famous national parks but only gives a page or so to each, while multiple pages are provided on most national monuments.

Pipe Spring and Sunset Crater are two great Arizona national monuments included in the book, and Dinosaur National Monument and Bent's Old Fort historic site are two featured Colorado sites.

For New Mexico, there's Petroglyph, Pecos and Fort Union national monuments.

Utah's national monuments are: Cedar Breaks, Golden Spike, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges and Timpanogos Cave.

The book is well-written, and the authors explore many of the familiar places in a different way. For example, they refer to White Sands National Monument as "the Southwest's largest public beach," though it is hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com