Kathryn Wilder is the author of the memoir Desert Chrome: Water, a Woman, and Wild Horses in the West (Torrey House Press, May 2021), a 2022 Colorado Book Award winner in Creative Nonfiction, Silver Nautilus Book Award winner in Memoir, and winner of the National Indie Excellence Awards in Regional Nonfiction: West. Her work has been notably cited in Best American Essays and has appeared in such publications as Terrain.org, High Desert Journal, River Teeth, Midway Journal, Fourth Genre, Sierra, and many anthologies and Hawai`i magazines. A graduate of the low-rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Wilder was a 2022 finalist for the Ellen Meloy Fund Desert Writers Award (also in 2019, 2016, and 2007), and a 2018 finalist for the Waterston Desert Writing Prize. She lives among mustangs in southwestern Colorado, where she ranches with her family in the Dolores River watershed.



“Testimony to the healing power of wildness . . . a candid memoir that interweaves a trajectory of loss, pain, and hard-won serenity with a paean to wild horses.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Wilder’s love of horses and the land is the theme threaded through her, and her writing makes a heartsong of it all.” 
—LIDIA YUKNAVITCH, bestselling author of Verge and The Chronology of Water 

Desert Chrome journeys through parched valleys, on wild rivers, and into deep rock canyons on a unique quest. In this authentic, hard-won account of her life, Kathryn Wilder finds the warm, true hearts she’s been seeking and that deserve our humanity, healing, and a hell of a lot better future than they’ve been dealt. There’s a quiet heroine at the center of this story, yes, pointing toward a beautiful world. It can be ours if we’ll love better, lean closer, and listen to the voices, like Wilder’s own, well worth heeding from birth.”REBECCA LAWTONauthor of The Oasis This Time

“A raw and honest journey of addiction, love, trauma, and redemption—grounded in a deep love of place and all things mustang. The best memoirs reveal the deeply personal in order to see the larger world with renewed clarity and insight—this is one such book. As Wilder moves from heroin to horses, we see a substantive journey of recovery and strength—and ultimately, of resilience.” —LAURA PRITCHETT, author of Stars Go Blue

“I learned so much reading Kathryn Wilder’s book, Desert Chrome—about wild horses. About desert and water. About Kat. We were neighbors years ago, but the new paths along which, with smooth and stunning prose, she leads readers into the depths of her life suggest how little we know those close to us. And how huge life can be once we commit with our whole hearts to wildness.” —BROOKE WILLIAMS, author of Open Midnight

“For too long, the lone cowboy myth has corralled the American West in the barbed wires of dominion and destruction. Tangled in that telling are women and mustangs—their wildness, togetherness, and vulnerability. In Desert Chrome, Kathryn Wilder bucks against a story as desiccated as the deserts she has dwelled in—kicking hard enough to free what was bound, to redeem what was broken. Listen now, to the thundering of hearts and hooves. They’re coming for us, at last.” —AMY IRVINE, author of Air Mail and Desert Cabal

“A powerful coming-of-age story, into the age of a woman’s strongest power, when, with complete awareness of her past, she can, with might and strength, will the future before her.”CMARIE FUHRMAN, author of Camped Beneath the Dam

“‘Blame it or praise it,’ Virginia Woolf writes, ‘there is no denying the wild horse in us.’ Desert Chromeis the story of a landscape and the many ways the land sings us into being. It is the story of one of our most iconic North American species, Equus caballus, the wild horse. And, most of all, it is the story of a woman coming to know her own wildness—a wildness that is free, and sustaining, and on her own terms.” —JOE WILKINS, author of Fall Back Down When I Die and The Mountain and the Fathers

Desert Chrome galleys
Brumley Point and Temple Butte in the background
Chrome’s son, Remy
Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area, Disappointment Valley, Southwest Colorado

27 thoughts on “About

  1. This is one of the most wonderful books I have read in a very long time. The author has such keen descriptive ability and she takes us with her in out into the desert, with the horses, into her heart. It is tender, raw, sweet, bitter and certainly provokes thought and great emotion. I applaud the author for being so brave, for telling her story as it is. It is a brilliant memoir. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Dont know how I have missed THIS blog – remember seeing your name many times, and have been reading TJs blog for a few years. Look forward to this one.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I just finished Desert Chrome and enjoyed it very much. I can identify with the love of horses, the outdoors and the soul touching events of life. Some books provide enjoyable stories and some touch you somewhere deep, this one did both. I have lived in Tucson for 30+ years and felt at home immediately when I moved here. I take my grand-daughters for riding lessons (a skill I never achieved in my lifetime). I finished the book while sitting in my Denali jacket that my daughter brought home 17+ years ago after a summer of working there in the park hotel. It is also somewhere I hope to see one day. Your book has stirred up a long held desire to travel more and experience more.

  4. Hello Kathryn. I met you last fall in Mancos. You were with a couple of your friends discussing writing. I was with a couple of my friends just drinking coffee. You were very kind to chat a bit about your book. I bought it. I just want to say congratulation on the Colorado Book Award. Nicely done.

  5. Hi Kathryn!
    I read Desert Chrome and was extremely impressed! I am a teacher at Southwest Open School in Cortez, CO. I will be teaching a unit in April/May 2023 on the impact horses have had on life in the southwest and their continued role in our lives today. I would love to invite you to speak to the kids of you experiences. I wanted to reach out to you as early as possible because I know your schedule is busy. Please let me know you thoughts and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

  6. I can’t thank you enough for your honesty about your journey. Your passages about place and one woman’s relationship with it was so powerful for me. I feel less alone. On top of that, I am drawn to the plight of the mustang. Like you, when I look at them I am filled with curiosity and love. Thank you for telling your story. It was an important read for me.

      • Hi again, a little back story to share. I lost a very good friend to pancreatic cancer in Nov ‘21. We shared a deep love for plants and animals in New England and then in the Southwest. Our favorite place to meet up was in the canyons outside of Escalante, Utah. Second favorite place was walking through aspens groves and wildflowers in the Wasatch. I miss my walks and talks with my buddy but your book gave me hope that I’ll find that company again, I just need to pick up my feet and put on that backpack. Thanks.

  7. Congratulations! So appreciated your book. Got to hear you read in the spring at a BLM museum near Dolores. Gave to book as gifts too. Glad to know you won the award and wish I could hear you again at the Cortex Library. Wish it was being zoomed for those of us at a distance. Hope you have a great turn out!

    • Thank you so much, Sherry, for reading Desert Chrome, and sharing it with friends, and for keeping in touch! Yes, I would also like a Zoom version, but this is in-person only (remember when not so long ago it was the other way around?).

    • Indeed I do and in person is best!
      Still appreciate zoom when that’s not possible. Greetings from WA state. Thank you for the reply 😊♥️

  8. Just bought your book in U of Az bookstore. Sounds wonderful! Water, horses, dessert.
    I am a 74 yr old newish equestrian. (Crazy, right?)

  9. I am at p. 100 of Desert Chrome. I am slowing down and savoring every description. When reading a book I really love, I read slower, so as not to have it end. I am the one who bought your book at the U of Az bookstore while visiting me family there.

    You are certainly not done telling us all what is important thru your personal stories. We are your friends who are listening.
    Congrats, Kathryn. Already you impact life for many!

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