Book Review: Everett Ruess - A Vagabond for Beauty

Here at Frontier Homestead, we thought we would, from time to time, share with you what we are reading. This month our review comes from our visitor services manager, Summer Lyftogt. We encourage you to share with us your favorite reads as the year progresses.

Everett Ruess - A Vagabond for Beauty, a treat for lovers of adventure, beauty, art and writing, sees the life of Everett Ruess from the age of 16 - 20 through letters and journal entries of his treks through the Southwest wilderness from the years of 1930 to 1934.


The book consists mainly of letters written to Everett’s family and friends while on his adventures, before he mysteriously vanished into the barren Utah desert. Many pictures of Everett and his burros are inserted into the text.

The author, W. L. Rusho, with his insights and research into the mystery and stories associated with Ruess’s disappearance, gives this reader a desire to learn more about this icon for modern day adventurers and seekers of natural beauty.

I was especially attracted to Everett’s passions. He was enthralled with the landscape of the Southwest, creating many block prints and writing poems and essays of the beauty of the area. Here is an excerpt from an essay titled “Serene and Tempestuous Days”.


I wandered through the Painted Desert and spent days

            serene and tempestuous in Canyon de Chelly, then

             traveled up Canyon del Muerto in the shadow

             of sheer, incurving cliffs, breathtakingly chiseled

             and gloriously colored. I passed the last Navajo

             encampment and stopped for a space in an abandoned

             hogan constructed of smooth clean-limbed cottonwood,

             with singing water at the door and sighing leaves

             overhead. Tall, gracefully arched trees screened the

             turquoise sky with a glistening pattern of dappled

             green: above and beyond were the gorgeous

             vermilion cliff.


You can get an idea of his passion for the beauty of nature and the landscape from this excerpt.

Frontier Homestead currently has an exhibit of Everett’s block prints provided by The Utah Division of Arts and Museums that will be available through May 1.