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Cover photo by Jonathan T. Bailey

Seasons of Rock Art on the Colorado Plateau

by Craig Childs

Author photo from Ace Kvale.JPG

CRAIG CHILDS has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including The Secret Knowledge of Water, Atlas of a Lost World, and his most recent Virga & Bone. He is a contributing editor at Adventure Journal Quarterly and his work has appeared in the Atlantic, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. He lives in southwest Colorado.

Author Website


Craig Childs bears witness to rock art of the Colorado Plateau—bighorn sheep pecked behind boulders, tiny spirals in stone, human figures with upraised arms shifting with the desert light, each one a portal to the open mouth of time. With a spirit of generosity, humility, and love of the arid, intricate landscapes of the desert Southwest, Childs sets these ancient communications in context, inviting readers to look and listen deeply.

April 2022 | Nonfiction | $18.95 | 978-1-948814-57-7 | Trade Paper | 224 pp 

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“In Tracing Time, Craig Childs invites us to join him on a journey to visit, experience, and try to understand the ancient rock writings scattered throughout the storied northern Southwest—a journey that includes many colorful components and even more colorful characters. This is not an investigation, in the typical and tiresome sense, but a meditation. Punctuated with reflections on Childs’s own experience and insights shared with him by descendant knowledge-keepers, Tracing Time is an engaging glimpse into a world both fascinating and fundamentally unknowable to those who aren’t born into it.”
—R. E. BURRILLO, author of Behind the Bears Ears


“In a beautifully written new book, Craig Childs climbs desert boulders to find meaning inscribed in the rock, but finds instead mystery. He treks through redrock canyons to see rock art, but is surprised to find himself listening instead, as the artists' voices echo through deep time. As refreshing as a desert storm, Tracing Time is a welcome invitation into the continuities and conundrums of time.”
 —KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE, author of Earth's Wild Music


“The enigma of rock art of the American Southwest has puzzled archaeologists and amateurs for decades. In Tracing Time, Craig Childs adds to our knowledge by listening to the elders as he travels to hundreds of sites, yet the sense of mystery and imagination still swells.”
 —ANDY NETTELL, Back of Beyond Books

“Early in Tracing Time Craig Childs writes, ‘This, I am told, is one way to find rock art. Walk around clapping and when you hear a good echo, go look.’ This book is a long, glorious clapping session. It is also many many careful, patient, thoughtful, loving looks. Tracing Time holds in it voices that echo across years and also the adorned walls off of which so many stories have been refracted through time. Childs guides readers through a long lived in landscape and helps us see more clearly what’s been drawn upon the ancient stones.”
CAMILLE T. DUNGY, author of Soil: The History of a Black Mother’s Garden

“Childs brings refreshing humility . . . Readers might find here, along with a soul-saving historical perspective, a place of calm amid our noise.”


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