Colwell Cedars Retreat

      ~ merging awareness, creativity, and nature ~

Reviews of Canyon Breezes

          “Mr. Colwell’s book is deeply metaphysical. Some may pick up this book and take it as a travel log of sorts, but it is so much more to those relatively few people that are characterized as having what Plato referred to as the life worth living; so few of us choose to live the examined life. We are either too busy, not busy enough, too bored or too stressed. Mr. Colwell has not fallen prey to relegating himself to this level of merely science centered living. He has worked hard over decades for the United States Forestry Service, and has learned the lessons of nature, that great and ultimate announcer of the other part of reality, the numinous. He has understood the difference between the merely beautiful and that which is sublime. He effectively conveys his knowledge of an expanded reality far removed from that of mere science, for he has lived and has allowed himself to experience the wonder and the centeredness of that other non-scientific facet of reality. And now he shares what he has learned over four decades with the readers of his book. If you believe this book is an easy read, you are wrong. For those of you that have been fortunate enough to have visited some of the places Mr. Colwell refers too, as you read these passages you will recognize immediately some of the grandeur, the holiness, the completeness of his words. For those who have not been so fortunate, there is no better elemental guide to metaphysics than this work of Mr. Colwell.
          “I invite you to take a moment and listen to a man who thinks along the lines of Thoreau and Emerson. Canyon Breezes, a relatively small and inexpensive book, so pertinent and alive with the magisterium of non-science, of metaphysics, a book so rich in that which ultimately matters, is now available and a must read for those who are able to open their eyes…for those who dare to expand their horizons and think in terms of letters. Do yourself a favor. Grab a cup of coffee, a copy of Canyon Breezes, and find a quiet, comfortable corner. Read Mr. Colwell’s book slowly, thoughtfully, and… most importantly…listen to what he is really saying.”  Robert, in Georgia.

          “Your writing is excellent, for you were able to place me “there” where you were, where I could see, hear, and feel. Thank you for sharing your love of the natural world.”   Mary, in Colorado

          “Canyon Breezes was a perfect book. Short chapters for quick reading. In depth introspection of the small lovely things in nature. I would recommend it for every hiker. This book touches the heart with the depth of insight into the magic of nature. I would recommend it for all hikers and nature lovers. As a confirmed book lover, I especially enjoyed the wordcraft and spellbinding turn of a phrase.”   Donna, in Colorado

          “Colwell has an uncanny ability to see well beyond the world at face value. Canyon Breezes searches for the meaning of life in the canyon walls, spring monsoons, and rock formations. A great read for anyone who wants to find spiritual value in the world around you.”   J.D., in Colorado“It’s the kind of book you can read one essay and reflect on his storytelling or you can read several in one sitting. You can sample a random piece to discover a message that speaks to you. And, you may pause, reminded of one of your own experiences. The vivid and engaging writing style will make you appreciate the wonders of the West even more — and inspire you to get outdoors and do your own exploring. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding read.”  Ray, in Texas

Canyon Breezes
Author's Invitation ~~ Contents
About the Author ~~ Reviews

~About the Author~

          When the West called, Joseph Colwell left the flat prairies of central Illinois for the University of Idaho. During his college years, he spent summers working in Idaho state parks, Mt. Rainier National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.  With his degree in wildlife management, he spent the next 27 years with the US Forest Service. 

          He worked on five different national forests across the West, managing and exploring the land.  He helped bring moose into Colorado, peregrine falcons into the northern Sierra, and created a program of guided hikes under the full moon in South Dakota.  Retiring from his Forest Service career, he continued work as a Fire Information Officer on wildland fires, assisting the general public and homeowners with understanding wildfires.

          Joseph and his artist wife Katherine now live on their 40-acre nature preserve overlooking the North Fork Valley of western Colorado.   They created Colwell Cedars Retreat, offering a peaceful, secluded haven for guests as well as local wildlife.   While not working on his property, Joseph is guiding hikes on his four miles of trails, tending the organic garden with Katherine, reading, and enjoying the retreat’s mesa with its spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains and West Elk Wilderness.

Canyon Breezes  -- Contents

  • On the Rim
  • Arches
  • Lost in the Rocks of Time
  • October Storm
  • Interlude: Clouds of Heaven
  • Interlude: Spring Thunder


  • Bodega Head
  • Stinson Beach
  • Muir Woods
  • Interlude: Laughingwater
  • Interlude: Water Journey


  • Assembly of Angels
  • Jornada of Ravens
  • The Last Grizzly
  • When the Hummingbirds Leave
  • Interlude: Buttercup
  • Interlude: First Sunflower
  • Interlude: The Butterfly Migration


  • Homestake Mine
  • Weathered Dreams 1980
  • Leaning Cabin
  • Lance Creek, Wyoming
  • Interlude: Dragonfly
  • Interlude: Weather Station


  • Glenwood Canyon
  • The Smoke of Summer
  • Flight of the Cattail Down
  • Aspen Gold
  • Interlude: Aspen in the Rocks of Heaven
  • Interlude: Mt. Rainier


  • Silence
  • I Know There is a God
  • A Wilderness of the Soul
  • Sun Stands Still
  • Interlude: Lazuli
  • Interlude: Pollinators


  • Behind the Stories

          I invite you on an adventure of discovery and insight into nature drawn from over 45 years of observation while working and exploring throughout the West, penning thoughts about what I have seen and what inspires me.  Influenced by John Muir, Sigurd Olson, Aldo Leopold, Loren Eiseley, and many others, I look beyond the obvious to ask questions about what makes our world and its history so mysterious and magical. Curious to a fault, I cannot be satisfied with simple answers. What makes the natural world? What makes living things behave as they do?  What makes humans behave as we do?
          I have explored California’s North Coast, the trails of Mount Rainier, the slickrock canyons of Southern Utah, the high peaks of the Colorado Rockies, and the forests of South Dakota’s Black Hills—always asking questions, be it to the chickadees at feeders or the cougar that haunt the wilds.  I find magical moments in nature. The wild areas contain hidden secrets; so too, the city parks and our very own backyards. Join me in these stories of personal exploration, and may you be inspired to find your own special places.
          Joseph Colwell, March 30, 2015
          Hotchkiss, Colorado