Journeys: Bedrock City by Stacey Swann


Bedrock City, Valle, AZ

By Stacey Swann

Bedrock City beckoned us on the way up to the Grand Canyon, and my friend Crystal and I cannot resist it on the way back. It’s a diner, an RV park, a gift shop. It’s a theme park. It is constructed entirely, entirely, out of cement. Apparently a shabby cousin to the Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota, the Roadside America website states, “The paucity of vegetation makes this Bedrock seem like an encampment of global holocaust survivors.” That’s arresting.

The Grand Canyon had surpised me. It was so impressive my brain rejected it, automatically flattening the three dimensions into two. I don’t have a problem with heights; I have laid on my belly at Dun Aengus, peering down the sheer cliff face to the gray Atlantic three hundred feet below. But the Grand Canyon, even flattened, left me nauseaus and wanting to flee, like it was too much for my head to contain.

But no fleeing from Bedrock City. We pay money to get into the theme park (though are surprised they have the temerity to charge). We wander through the buildings, fading paint and an aura of abandonment. One house inexplicably holds a live goat. This type of landscape—no grass, no trees, just flat brown dirt and the sad scrub—has always made me soul sick. Who knew painted concrete could be a remedy? The giant green dinosaur towers, cuts the sky, and I feel completely at home.


Stacey Swann writes, live, and teaches in Texas.


Journeys is a project at The Owls site combining images and writing about places. See more >>


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