There's been much talk the last year or so of nature deficit disorder and the fear that our younger generations are being alienated from nature for a whole variety of reasons. Too, there's been a lot of concern expressed over visitation trends in the national parks.
I'm not about to announce that I've found a panacea for these woes. But the Yellowstone Expedition Guide by TravelBrains could go a long way toward helping kids get curious not just about nature, but about national parks.
This multi-media guide, winner of a 2006 National Outdoor Book Award, helps bring Yellowstone to life for kids and adults even before they leave their homes. With its mix of text, gorgeous photography, audio CD, and CD-ROM, Yellowstone Expedition (MSRP $39.95) not only introduces one to the park but whets one's interest in wanting to visit Yellowstone.
Written by Charissa Reid, who draws her knowledge of Yellowstone from growing up in the park and now working as the park's oral historian, Yellowstone Expedition mixes park trivia with natural and human history, geology and wildlife.
Turn the pages and you learn the differences between geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles, get some history on historic Fort Yellowstone as well as the wildfires of 1988, even learn a bit about the wolf recovery program.
Flower lovers will enjoy the colorful guide to wildflowers in the park, while the section on wildlife could help provide the background for many young naturalists facing school projects. Once in the park, when kids spot animals they can turn to the guide's wildlife section to learn more about those animals.
Some of these sections are covered on the CD-ROM, which definitely helps youngsters appreciate what to expect on a trip to Yellowstone. Not only is the primer on geothermal features repeated here with a narrator and images, but the disk also contains more than 130 color photos of Yellowstone as well as a movie of the park's geysers.
The CD-ROM also contains maps to the various attractions and which help you select hikes in the various regions of the park. Click on an attraction and up pops a 360-degree panoramic photo of the attraction.
And for planning your trip, there's a section to help you learn more about accommodations (with pictures that show the interiors of lodge and cabin rooms), dining, camping, and activities.
There's even a section on ranger activities.
Topping it all off, Yellowstone Expedition includes an audio CD that describes Yellowstone's wonders that you can listen to as you explore the park in your rig.
All of this is packaged in a hard-cover spiral notebook, making it easy to toss into your suitcase or car for use once you reach the park.
In sum, Yellowstone Expedition takes the traditional park guidebook to the next level by incorporating multi-media presentations. Though I haven't personally seen them, TravelBrains also has guides to Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, 2nd Manassas, and Antietam.