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Nabokov's Summer Trips

to the West, 1941-1953

Based mainly on Brian Boyd (Vladimir Nabokov−The American Years), the Nabokov-Wilson letters and several of Nabokov's technical butterfly papers

"The locality labels pinned under these butterflies will be a boon to some twenty-first century scholar with a taste for recondite biography. It was at such of our headquarters as Telluride, Colorado; Afton, Wyoming; Portal, Arizona; and Ashland, Oregon, that Lolita was energetically resumed in the evenings or on cloudy days."

Nabokov, On a Book Entitled Lolita, 1956 





First tour, driver Dorothy Leuthold in her new car, destination Palo Alto, California

(May 26) New York City to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Motor Court Lee-Mead)

(May 27) to Luray, Virginia (Parkhurst Inn & Cottages)

(May 28) to Bristol, Virginia (Hotel General Shelby)

(May 29) to the Smoky Mountains and Belva, West Virginia (Maple Shade Cottages)

(May 30) to Crossville, Tennessee (Cumberland Motor Court)

(May 31) to Jackson, Tennessee (George Anna Hotel)

(Jun 1) to Hot Springs, Arkansas (Wonderland Motor Courts)

(Jun 2) to Dallas, Texas (Grande Tourist Lodge)

(Jun 3) to Lubbock, Texas (Motor Hotel)

(Jun 4) to Santa Fé, New Mexico (El Rey Courts)

(Jun 6) to Holbrook, Arizona (Forest Court)

(Jun 7-8) to Grand Canyon (South Rim), Arizona (Bright Angel Lodge)

(Jun 9) to Las Vegas, Nevada

(Jun 10) to San Bernardino, California

(Jun 11) to Santa Monica, California (Mission Court?)

(Jun 13) to Fresno, California

(Jun 14) arrival in Palo Alto, California; stay at a rented home on 230 Sequoia Ave

(First week of September) Ten days driving around Yosemite National Park

(Sep 11) By train back to Wellesley, Massachusetts


(Jun 22): Leaving Chicago by train for Salt Lake City, Utah

At Alta Lodge, Little Cottonwood Canyon, owned by publisher James Laughlin, hiking in Wasatch Range in pursuit of butterflies

(Early September) Return to Cambridge, Massachusetts



No car this time

(Mid-June) By train from Wellesley, Massachusetts, to Estes Park, Colorado (Columbine Lodge), at the limits of Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking along Trail Ridge Road in pursuit of butterflies

(Early September) Back to Wellesley via New York City, by train



First butterfly tour with his own car, a second-hand black 1946 Oldsmobile

(June) Leaving Ithaca, New York, destination Salt Lake City, Utah, for a writers' conference on July 5

(Jun 22) picking up Richard Buxbaum at Canandaigua, New York

Route below Great Lakes and across Iowa and Nebraska

(Jul 3): Arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah (Sorority House Alpha Delta Phi)

(Jul 16) Heading for Grand Tetons

Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Battle Mountain Ranch)

Wilson, Wyoming (Teton Pass Ranch)

(End of August) Heading east across Minnesota, north of Great Lakes and via northern Ontario

(Sep 4) Back in Ithaca, New York


No tour because of lack of time and money



To Colorado and Wyoming in his Oldsmobile, amassing notes for Lolita

(June, last week) Leaving Ithaca, New York

(Jun 30) Saint Francis, Kansas (on US 36)

(Early July) Telluride, Colorado (two nights at Skyline Ranch south of Telluride, then at Valley View Court)

(Jul 15) hiking up Tomboy Road to Social Tunnel

(Early August) Heading northwest through the Rocky Mountains, stopping at Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

West Yellowstone, Montana (Duck Ranch)

(End of August) Driving back to Ithaca, New York


To the Continental Divide in Wyoming in his Oldsmobile, writing Lolita

(Jun 20) Leaving Cambridge, Massachusetts

Stop in Ithaca, New York

(End June) Laramie, Wyoming (Lazy U Motel)

Through Medicine Bow National Forest to Riverside

(Jul 4) Riverside (where some noisy festival is underway)

Dubois, Wyoming (Rock Butte Court)

(Early August) Afton, Wyoming (Corral Log Cabins)

(Sep 1) Back in Ithaca


To Arizona where the weather is too cold and windy for butterfly hunting, in same old Oldsmobile, working on the final draft of Lolita

(Early April) Leaving Ithaca, New York

Birmingham, Alabama

Portal, Arizona

Chiricahua Mountains, hunting butterflies

(Jun 1) Via several Californian lakes to Ashland, Oregon (163 Mead Street)

(Early September) Back to Ithaca via Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons