Beef Basin

Six Shooter Peaks, with Bridger Jack Mesa

Some landscapes bring me to tears. When I drive up highway 211 toward the Needles District of Canyonlands, I begin to understand the meaning of the old truism that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. I have this 6-cylinder Silverado I bought from a State trooper. I bought a camper (used), that sits on the truck. Half the fun of camping with it in the American West is just getting there, to places like Oregon and the Great Basin and the Needles.

For reference, the pic at the top of this post is near Beef Basin, looking toward Six Shooter Peaks in the distance, so named because, when cowboys saw lightning strike the twin spires, it seemed like six shooters firing away toward heaven.

The view looks north toward the southern entrance of Canyonlands. Behind me, just along the road, is the famed Newspaper Rock, loaded with tourists but worth a study because it represents a graphic display of ancient ancestral culture. The well-maintained dirt roads like the one you see here access the federal land between ruby mesas toward Beef Basin. Bridger Jack Mesa features prominently in the photo. On fair weather days, you’ll pass rock climbers scaling the Wingate, and may even spot tiny, dollish figures perched atop impossible spires. I envy them their courage, for I am a land lubber.

South from here, you may just glimpse the silvering, humped peaks of the Abajos as they mount the sky above the winding southern canyon through which Indian Creek runs. Fremont cottonwoods canopy the floor of this narrowing gorge. When these gallery forests leaf out in spring, which comes earlier here than in the higher surrounding tablelands, you get the feel of an eastern forest.

You can venture into the Dark Canyon region, a Grand in miniature. Ruins from Ancestral Puebloan times hide as ghosts, resisting our eyes.

Southern Utah remains, in some ways, an undiscovered country. These lands connect up with other heaving, buff-colored swells and basins, either directly or remotely. The Bears Ears, Cedar Mesa, Lake Powell, the Dirty Devil, Monument Valley. All of it within a few hours drive. I wonder what will become of it.

These landscapes are the settings of my novels and short stories. Before these vacant places get sold off and turn into more Moabs, I just wanted people to know them, to love them the way they’ve known and loved me.

© 2022 by Michael C. Just

Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.

You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at

Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through this website or through Amazon at

Four of his short stories have recently been published online:

Lies, Ltd. has been published by The Mystery Tribune @ Lies, Ltd.: Literary Short Fiction by Michael C. Just (

The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW

I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October

Offload, a short story about a man who can heal any disease, is now live and can be read at The Worlds Within at Offload – The Worlds Within