Winter 2022

Ancient Arizona

Stories from inside the Stones

"Natural Landmarks of Arizona, " by David Yetman, University of Arizona Press, 2021

As a schoolboy in 1955, he clawed his way with school chums up the face of a volcanic crater called Ash Peak. For David Yetman, age 13, it was only the first of many research treks.

Decades later, Yetman ’64 ’66 ’72, now 80, has compiled a rich, charming book about 32 mountains, 12 peaks and three canyons that make up his “Natural Landmarks of Arizona.”

From Ash Peak, near the New Mexico border, Yetman takes readers north to Navajo Mountain and the Vermilion Cliffs near Utah, down to the Kofa Mountains near Yuma, and home to Tucson’s Tumamoc Hill and Sentinel Peak. Along the way, there are personal tales, professorial geoscience and deep prehistory.

The journey is exactly what you’d expect of the exuberant Emmy-winning host and producer of “In the Americas with David Yetman,” the only PBS television series produced by a university department (the Southwest Center, a unit of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences).

Having fun along the way, Yetman reminds us that “A” Mountain’s lofty parking lot was once “best known as a lane of love” … for students studying the peak’s 20-million-year-old rocks and the culture of the mysterious Trincheras people who lived there until they disappeared 1,300 years ago. 

It’s a book destined for backpacks and nightstands as explorers add their own discoveries and, he hopes, ask, “Why didn’t Yetman write about this?”