Steamboat Springs Scott Warren's book, "Exploring Colorado's Wild Areas," will tempt you to visit areas of the state you might never have visited had you not delved into it.
This is the second edition of the volume published by "The Mountaineers Books." It's packed with summaries of 69 different public places kept largely in their natural state, They include many little known Wilderness Study Areas.
There are familiar places, like the Flat Tops Wilderness south of Steamboat. And there are lesser known arid landscapes like Cross Canyon Wilderness Study Area near Cortez. If the alpine lakes and tundra of the Flat Tops feel like your back yard, Cross Canyon, with its ancient ruins, will almost certainly seem more exotic.
Warren's book is by no means a thorough hiking guide; it lacks detailed trail notes. That's OK, the book would be huge if he gave almost 70 different wilderness areas the full treatment. What he does accomplish, is to give his readers enough of the flavor of an area to make them want to know more.
In addition to his spare, but informative prose, Warren publishes ample photographs and area maps. The strongest portion of the text is represented by the concise paragraphs on geology. It always makes me a little crazy when books of this genre omit information about fishing opportunities. Warren either does not wet a line on his wilderness trips, or is far too wise to write about it.
He is a better-than-adequate photographer, and an even better cartographer. Not that his maps take the place of topos, but he has an uncanny ability to reduce a sprawling wild area to clean little maps. They clearly show the proximity and orientation of trailheads to towns, highways and major geographic features like rivers, canyons and mountain ranges.
The photographs were obviously original color emulsions, and reproduce a little bit on the dark side in black and white. But they succeed in giving the reader a good idea of what to expect if they set out on an expedition. Warren's subjects are more than just mountain ranges and rivers; he aims his lens at wild horses, Anasazi ruins and bighorn sheep. There's even an occasional hiking companion.
I like the book well enough that I'm taking it home, and if the summer turns out the way I hope, I'll use it to spark a trip to a wilderness I haven't visited before.
The cover price of Exploring Colorado's Wild Areas is $18.95. The publisher has a Web page at www.mountaineersbooks.org.