Steel on Stone: Living and Working in the Grand Canyon



The Grand Canyon National Park has been called many things, but home isn't often one of them. Yet after years of traveling the globe, Nathaniel Brodie found his home there.

Steel on Stone is Brodie's account of living in the canyon during the eight years he worked on a National Park Service trail crew, navigating a vast and unforgiving land. Embedded alongside Brodie and his crew, readers experience precipitous climbs to build trails, dangerous search-and-rescue missions, rockslides, spelunking expeditions, and rafting trips through the canyon on the Colorado River. From Brodie's chronicles of tracking cougars and dodging rampaging pack mules to adjusting to seasons spanning triple-digit heat and inaccessibility during the winter, we learn about the life cycle of this iconic park, whose complex ecosystems coexist with humans, each one seeking a deeply personal experience, and the subcultures and hierarchies that form deep within the canyon.

Following in the steps of naturalists like John Wesley Powell and Edward Abbey, Brodie deftly weaves histories and tales from canyon aficionados into his own story. Over time he comes to realize that home is not always a place on a map but instead is deeply defined by the people we encounter, including those who finally call us to move on.

Steel on Stone is a love letter to the Grand Canyon and those who have given years of their lives to work its trails so that we may understand and enjoy it today as the transformative landscape we seek.

Product Details

$18.95  $17.43
Trinity University Press
Publish Date
January 29, 2019
5.5 X 1.0 X 8.4 inches | 0.9 pounds
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About the Author

Nathaniel Farrell Brodie worked for many years on the Grand Canyon National Park Service Trail Crew. He has also worked as a farmer, carpenter, beekeeper, journalist, troutslayer, and editor. He received a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Nonfiction Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He was the recipient of the PEN Northwest Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, and was a finalist for both the Ellen Meloy Desert Fund and the Waterston Desert Writing Prize. His essays have appeared in a number of magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.


"[Brodie] uses his eight years on the Grand Canyon National Park Service trail crew as fodder for the elegantly written Steel on Stone... takes the reader on a meandering but ultimately satisfying trek alongside a man searching for a place where he can belong." -- The Oregonian