The Heart of the Southwest

Twin Rocks in the the center of all there is to see in the heart of the Southwestern US

All roads lead to Twin Rocks, in amazing Bluff, UT

Why come and visit us at Twin RocksEasy.  You’ll have a great time that is completely unique.

The Twin Rocks Trading Post sits just beneath the Navajo Twins geologic formation in the historic pioneer town of Bluff, Utah. Barry and Steve Simpson, local boys, share their passion for cultural tradition and artistic innovation with both artists and visiting collectors.

Open minds and imagination have resulted in a Navajo basketry renaissance. You’ll also discover one of the finest contemporary Native American turquoise jewelry collections in the world. (No kidding!) And, the Twin Rocks Modern Navajo rug is the first Navajo weaving design innovation in decades.

Pop in.  There’s always a lively conversation going on about the west of old, contemporary Indian art, and travel exploits.  (Tell us yours!)

This is our home. If you have any questions about the Four Corners regional culture and landscape, feel free to ask us.  If we don’t know, we’ll point you in the right direction. When you visit us in Bluff, we promise you a top-notch experience in Native American art and hospitality.

Our friendly team is happy to give you an authentic experience that is comfortable, informative and fun. Like many people we have met over the years, we hope you come through our front door as customers and leave as life-long friends. And, you can always give us a buzz at 1-800-526-3448.

Welcome to our part of the planet, friends. Life will never look quite the same way again.

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Come to Twin Rocks Trading Posts and visit Arches National Park

Arches National Park is one of the natural treasures near Twin Rocks.

The First Morning

“This is the most beautiful place on earth.

“There are many such places.  Every man, every woman carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, actual or visionary.  A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.  Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

“For myself, I’ll take Moab, Utah.  I don’t mean the town itself, of course, but the country which surrounds it — the Canyonlands. The slick-rock desert.  The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky — all that which lies beyond the end of the roads.”

…………..

The above was written by Edward Abbey, and it is from his book about our red rock country, Desert Solitaire.  His use of words is incomparable.  The perfect description of how we feel about this, the part of the land we carry in our hearts.  The part that grabs travelers as they pass through.

Come to Twin Rocks in Bluff, UT and discover the art that emerges from this magical place.  You will be captivated and amazed. But you won’t be surprised. Art that comes from land with this sort of beauty is breathtaking, purely imagined, and the inspiration is clear.

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Mom and Duke’s Trading Post

Rose and Duke Simpson at their Blue Mountain Trading Post in Blanding, UT

Rose and Duke Simpson — aka Mom and Dad — in the Trading Post

We at Twin Rocks are Trading Post kids.  It’s sort of like being a military brat. You are in a world of your own, understood only by those who’ve been there, done that.  Thankfully, it’s world that comes to your own door, and it’s also a world that’s as big as you want to make it when you step outside and climb into your truck.

How many miles do you want to go to find a few perfect pieces?  How many artistic friends do you want to meet on the way?  How many do you want to make?

Trading is an old and venerable way of life.  The Mayans went up and down their trade route which, some say, went all the way to present day Santa Fe, NM, for more years than we can count.

Here in Bluff, when you stand at the Great Kiva, you can still see the paths that led to Chaco, the center of another civilization.

We at Twin Rocks learned to trade from our dad, Duke Simpson, still the patriarch of our family.  With five kids in five years, we went to work pretty young, and mom was good at laying down the law.  (Which was a good thing — we were kind of an unruly crew.)

Duke could and would trade for anything.  He’d head off in his pick-up truck with a roll of baling wire to start the bargaining, trading up, around and over.  (Having plenty of baling wire is kind of a big deal in west.)

This year is a landmark birthday for Duke and Rose who have been together for just about forever.  We wish them well. We’re glad they gave us the life they did.  Happy Birthday!

PS:  Yes, they still have a trading post.  And they have an RV Park.  If you want to stop by, head up the road 25 miles from Bluff, UT and say hello to those good people at Blue Mountain Trading Post!  Treasures await you.

Zuni Deer Kachina Pin/Pendant — Magic to Wear

Twin Rocks Trading Post carries one-of-a-kind, quality southwest jewelry

Zuni Deer Katchina Inlay Jewelry

This piece of Southwest Zuni Jewelry is sterling silver inlay, and we at Twin Rocks consider it a particular find! This Deer Kachina that can be worn as a pin or pendant.  Set with green malachite, the blackest jet, mother of pearl, coral from the faraway ocean, and the iconic Southwest stone, turquoise.   It is a true beauty.

Expertly crafted by artist Andrea Lonjose Shirley, it may be the perfect gift, and it’s certainly an heirloom waiting to happen!

Another type of mosaic work, called overlay inlay, this piece features two pieces of silver.  One is for the backing and the second, with a pattern cut from the silver, is soldered on top.  Instead of leaving the silver empty, as in Hopi overlay, zuni artists fill the opening with stones laid in to form a mosaic design.

It’s an intricate process and it takes a steady hand, a fine eye, and an imagination that is boundless.

If you’re cruising around the Great Southwest, you’ve just finished ooooo-ing at the Grand Canyon, or you’re about to explore Mesa Verde, stop by Twin Rocks.  The art is amazing, the folks are friendly and there’s a cool drink with your name on it at the Twin Rocks Café.

Two Navajo Artists Find Grace in their Folk Art

Navajo carfts, and carvings, teach us about the old gods, the animals spirits and the place they hold in our lives.

Marvin Jin and Grace Begay, Navajo Artists, Find Grace and Fun

Based upon the Navajo Creation Tales, the extraordinary and unique sculptures of Marvin Jim reflect a time long ago, when animals and humans walked and worked together to create this new world.Traditional Navajo stories speak of conversations among all beings, of behaving in a manner of mutual respect, and of all beings having an equal position in the community. These legends are an essential part of the Navajo culture.

The tales are of universal interaction, compassion and tolerance — all the things necessary to live a balanced existence.

The animals played prominate roles in these myths. For example, Coyote is often portrayed delivering fire to humans, a selfish act initially, but one that proved selfless in the end. There was Turkey who kept his wits about him during the great flood. When everyone else grabbed  personal possessions, Turkey gathered life-giving seeds. These seeds made it possible for the people to survive.

The four great rams who dispersed the flood waters into a mirage world, making the earth livable are mentioned. Duck, who dove back into the troubled waters to fetch the forgotten medicine bag of First Man is also an important part of the stories. This act cost him his beautiful plumage, but gave rise to the sacred mountains which guard and protect the people.

Marvin has chosen to recreate these lessons through sculpture. Raised in the traditional Navajo way, this talented young artist, carves his “upright animals” to show that there was once, and will be again, a personal connection to the animal world.

There is a special grace and love in his work that make you feel happy.  Isn’t that a miraculous thing?

Katie Lee, Angel of the Canyons, and Singer

Katie Lee is a great woman who has done her beswt to save our beautiful red-rock canyonlands

Katie Lee, Angel of Canyonlands, folksinger, and Wild Spirit

Katie Lee, born in Tucson in 1919, is an Arizona folk singer, writer, actress and photographer.  We were lucky enough to hear her sing, in a little cafe, here in Bluff, UT.  How fortunate we are to have people such as Katie Lee come to Bluff.

Katie Lee is vibrant, a fighter, a storyteller, and is still achingly beautiful.

She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After that, she went on to study with two of the most successful folksingers of the 1940s, Burl Ives and Josh White. Her early albums of folk music, Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses (1960) and Songs of Couch and Consultation (1957) are long out of print, but six more recent CDs are still available. She has also released three videos, including Love Song to Glen Canyon.  That’s the film she came to show is in Bluff.

After joining a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon, she became a regular on river trips on the Colorado River and joined the opposition to the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. In 1964, Lee released an album on Folkways Records, entitled, Folk Songs of the Colorado River. In the 1980s she recorded a cassette-only release Colorado River Songs consisting of old songs popular among river runners on the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, along with some original compositions. This release was hailed by Edward Abbey and David Foreman among others. Colorado River Songs was expanded and re-released in 1997 on CD. She has also released Glen Canyon River Journeys on CD, which mixes music and spoken word commentary, and is featured on the 2005 Smithsonian Folkways compilation album, Songs and Stories from Grand Canyon.  Quite a woman?  Yes.

She has also written three books: Sandstone Seduction, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle and All My Rivers Are Gone. Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle is a study of the music, stories, and poetry of the American cowboy. It was also recorded as an album.

Katie Lee met her first husband “Brandy” (Edwin Carl Brandelius Jr.), her book Sandstone Seduction is dedicated to him, on a trip to Baja California. Brandy was a war veteran, a race car driver and a good friend of Turk Murphy’s. Katie Lee noted Brandy as the prime influence on finishing and publishing her first book Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle. Brandy is the father of Jerilyn Lee Brandelius, author of The Grateful Dead Family Album (and four other children) from his first marriage.

Sandstone Seduction, a memoir, relates her continuing love affair with desert rivers and canyons, and reveals her Lady Godiva-style bicycle ride through downtown Jerome, Arizona, where she lives.  The chronicles of her adventures in Baja California appear in the book Almost An Island written by Bruce Berger.

October 1, 2011 Katie Lee was inducted into the Arizona Music Hall of Fame. We are honored that she came to our part of red-rock country, and consider her to be the Singing Angel of the Canyons.  Thank you, Katie Lee, for your courageous and fun-loving spirit!

Katie Lee, Angel of Canyonlands, folksinger, and Wild Spirit

Happy Father’s Day to Our Beloved Bluffoon Dads

Father's Day at Twin Rocks Trading Post with Barry and Steve Simpson

Happy Father’s Day to Barry and Steve Simpson, the Twin Rock Pops!

We’d like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there. You know who you are.

Most certainly that includes our own Barry Simpson and Steve Simpson.  Your bio-families and work families, both, love you loads!

(May you both take this day off…)

— The Crew at Twin Rocks