Inspiration for this collection came when out shooting Fall colors with my friend Gary in the Sierras outside of Bishop, California. Seeing restrooms set among some of the most beautiful aspens on the planet, I said to Gary, “That looks like an outhouse in paradise.” Gary just gave me a sideways glance and went on with his photography. No accounting for taste I guess.

Of course, the first time anyone collects one of anything, there is a tendency to start adding to the collection. Have you ever heard of a stamp collector with just one stamp? So over the years, I have noticed and photographed outhouses in some beautiful places. Some are attractive. Some are not. I use them when lecturing to signal my audience that it is time for a break. Here is my collection.

Original Outhouse in Paradise - Eastern Sierra

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Nearby South Lake

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Hot

In second place for hottest outhouse was this one in the Valley of Fire, East of Las Vegas, Nevada. It was 105 degrees Fahrenheit that August afternoon. This is located at the start of the Mouse Tank hike. There are interesting petroglyphs along that hike.

Hothouse in Paradise - Valley of Fire, NV

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Petroglyphs With Directions to Ancient Restrooms

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If one isn't enough, there are three ports-potties at the start of the hike to the Fire Wave.

Trio of Outhouses in Paradise - Valley of Fire, NV

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Hottest and Lowest

Death Valley The hottest place I have ever been is Death Valley. It was 112 F that afternoon. This outhouse is also winner of another category. It is at the parking lot for Badwater Basin. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest elevation of anywhere on Earth. It must hold the incontestable record for lowest elevation outhouse.

Hottest and Lowest Outhouse in Paradise - Death Valley

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Lowest Place On Earth

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112 Degrees!

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Highest – Patriarch Grove

I have been to higher elevations but have not seen an outhouse at those lofty heights. This one is at the Patriarch Grove, home to some of the oldest trees on the planet, the Ancient Bristlecone Pines. The elevation here is 11,300 feet above sea level.


Highest Outhouse in Paradise - Patriarch Grove

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Patriarch Grove at night

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Cold - Bryce

A runner up in the cold category is this outhouse at Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon. Mid day, temperatures were in the low fifties. The length of the icicles give an idea of the night time temperatures. I went out to photograph the sunrise every morning. The coldest morning was seven degrees. The warmest was twelve.

All I can say is I'm glad I didn't have to sit in there.

Icicle Outhouse in Paradise - Bryce

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Winter Sunrise at Bryce

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Bryce Canyon National Park is not a single canyon. It is the colorfully eroded edge of a long plateau, stretching about ten miles from near Sunrise Point in the North to Rainbow Point in the South. Most visitors never go much farther than the hotel complex at the North end. One year, we took the short drive down off the plateau from Bryce to the foot of the canyon. There is a hiking trail along Water Canyon to Mossy Cave. When we were there in March, icicles were hanging from Mossy Cave and the creek was partially frozen.

The red rock spires called “hoodoos” of Bryce are interesting enough. So is a frozen waterfall. Seeing them together is surreal.

Frozen Waterfall - Bryce Canyon

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Outhouse In Paradise - Mossy Cave Trailhead

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The creek and waterfall are the result of a man-made feature called the "Tropic Ditch". The early Mormon settlers to the area wanted to attract others to their little town. To advertise that it was possible to grow fruit trees, they called the town Tropic (the lack of truth in advertising is not new problem). Problem was, they needed a reliable source of water, so they dug a ditch. This "ditch" is a remarkable piece of work as it was dug in 1889 to 1892 to carry water from the East Fork of the Sevier river up on the plateau, down to the town of Tropic below. In those days, there was no mechanized equipment to help. The work was all done by 40 men with picks, shovels and the help of some mules. The ditch was - are you ready for this? - about 10 -15 feet deep and over 10 miles long! A remarkable feat of engineering and perseverance.

Coldest - Yellowstone

The coldest outhouses I’ve seen were in Yellowstone in January. The photo below was taken in the Hayden Valley around four in the afternoon. It was about 5 degrees above zero. There is a thermal vent behind the outhouse that is causing all that steam.

A couple mornings earlier in the Lamar Valley, it got down to minus 27. I would be afraid to sit on a toilet seat at that temperature. It might not come off when I try to stand.

Coldest Outhouse in Paradise - Yellowstone

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Honorable mention for deepest snow on roof.

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Bison in Line for Bathroom

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Most Colorful Geology - Pahreah Ghost Town

I made the slow five mile drive through six inch deep, wet, red mud to Pahreah Ghost Town at dusk. The town had been destroyed by flooding, leaving only some headstones in the graveyard. The area was later used as a movie set but the set was destroyed by flood, rebuilt and later destroyed by fire. The only structure standing was this lovely modern outhouse. I was the only person out there and was a little concerned about getting back out safely to the main highway. In keeping with the ghost town theme, the door of the outhouse slammed while I was out there. There was no wind. No people. No visible coyotes. Hmm...

Most Beautiful Geology Outhouse in Paradise - Pahreah, Utah

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Al Fresco in Borrego Springs

The only open air bathroom I have seen that is still in use by the general public is at the entrance to Palm Canyon in Borrego Springs California. At least you have plenty of fresh air.


No Roof Outhouse in Paradise - Borrego Springs - Women's

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No Roof for the Men Either - Borrego Springs - Men's

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Sign by Borrego Springs Outhouse - Mountain Lions and Rattlesnakes!

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Bodie Ghost Town

This “Two-holer” and adjacent barn were built in Bodie California during it’s gold rush period. Like the rest of the town, these outhouses have seen better days.

Out of Service Outhouse in Paradise - Bodie Ghost Town

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Bodie Single Seater

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A few hours down the road in Laws, California (the old railroad depot outside of Bishop) speaks of a time when you had to gather wood for a fire to heat your bathwater.

Bath Sign

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Minimalist – Grand Canyon

The most minimalist facility I have seen (and unlike some of the others, actually used) is the metal box with a toilet seat and roll of paper that you see here in the Grand Canyon. I took an eight day raft trip with Western River Expeditions and photographer Willie Holdman. Each night the crew would set up this toilet seat about 100 yards from camp, behind some bushes or rocks for privacy. At the trailhead to the it was an oar stuck in the sand if the toilet was not in use. You take the oar with you to the toilet and put it back when you are done. That way, no one has to wonder if the “bathroom” is available and no one is surprised at the facility. If you forget to bring back the oar, you can upset a lot of people who arrive after you have left because they will have to wait unnecessarily.

Minimalist Outhouse in Paradise - Grand Canyon

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That seat is not to be used for urination. That you do directly into the river. Men go upstream and women go downstream. The metal box is carried in the bottom of the raft all the way back to civilization. One of the many excellent services provided by the Western River Expedition guides.

Matches the Bedroom!

Camp the first night

Monument Valley is a gorgeous place but much of it is a long way from from running water, let alone indoor plumbing.

Outhouse in Paradise - Monument Valley (Matches the Rocks)

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Plenty of Indoor Plumbing at Monument Valley's View Hotel

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Hardest to Pronounce - Iceland

If I had to pronounce “Snyrtingar” to find a facility, I’d likely wet myself before I made myself understood. So would all the nearby Icelandic people from laughing at me. Fortunately, they all speak perfect “television English” from watching American film and tv. For guests from other countries, they have the best signs I have ever seen. These are at the parking lot by Seljalandsfoss.

Hardest to Pronounce

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Iceland has the best signs!

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Ladies are not spared the indignity.

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Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

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Apparently For Farmers Who Can't Read

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- But Do Know Their Poultry

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The winner for classiest outhouse resides at the Portland Japanese Garden. Of course, it is a brick shit house.

Classiest Outhouse in Paradise - Portland Japanese Garden

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Maples and Pond at Portland Japanese Garden

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That's it for now. I will update if I see something interesting.

Best,

David

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