What's In Your National Park Reading Room?
After tramping through national parks for upwards of four decades, I've understandably picked up a few books on the parks. Among my collection are the usual trail guides and park guides, natural history selections and park histories.
While many park travelers no doubt have a few park-related texts on hand, how might the park aficionado round out their library? Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:
Death, Daring, & Disaster by Charles "Butch" Farabee, Jr.
Revised in 2005, this 547-page veritable search and rescue encyclopedia tracks more than 400 SAR missions conducted across the National Park System since Yellowstone became the world's first national park in 1872. Chronicling both missteps in the parks and incredible feats of heroism, this page turner not only presents an incredible history of SAR, but conveys the need to be prepared and watch your steps in the parks.
Playing God in Yellowstone by Alston Chase
This controversial book, with the ominous subtitle of "The Destruction of America's First National Park," was first published in 1987 and brought into question the National Park Service's management techniques in Yellowstone. While you might not agree with all his findings, this book will make you think about politics and the parks.
Preserving Nature in the National Parks, A History by Richard West Sellars
Published in 1997, this book provides a historian's view of the evolution of the National Park Service and its system. Mr. Sellars has a keen perspective for authoring this book, as he was employed by the Park Service as a historian at the time he wrote it. Its pages chronicle the management styles of the Park Service's earliest, and more recent, managers and the outcomes they precipitated.
Bear Attacks by Stephen Herrero
First published in 1985 and revised back in 2002, this book is indispensable for those who travel the backcountry of parks with bears, either of the black or grizzly persuasion. Dr. Herrero, a professor emeritus of environmental science and biologist at the University of Calgary, long has been viewed as a leading authority on bear behavior and attacks. This text will help you better understand bear behavior and perhaps make you more comfortable negotiating the park system's backcountry .... if the attacks that he chronicles don't keep you out of the backcountry.
The Grand Controversy by Orrin Bonney and Lorraine Bonney
Who was the first white man to climb the Grand Teton? Was it William Owen in 1898, or did Nathaniel Langford and James Stevenson, members of the 1872 Hayden Survey that explored the landscape that had just a few months earlier become Yellowstone National Park, reach the summit in that year? In this book the Bonneys provide a key portal into America's mountaineering history, tracking not just the ascents of Langford, Stevenson and Owen but a look at other pioneering climbs in the Teton Range.
The Birth of the National Park Service, the Founding Years 1913-33 by Horace Albright
What better way to come to understand the formative years of the National Park Service than by reading the words of Horace Albright, the No. 2 man under Stephen Mather, the Park Service's first director. Mr. Albright, who also served a stint as Yellowstone National Park's superintendent, himself served as Park Service director, from 1929 to 1933.
Desert Solitaire, A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
How better to come to understand the meaning and value of wilderness than by reading this seminal work by the late Mr. Abbey, who was inspired at the time by his time as a seasonal ranger in what was then Arches National Monument.
Ansel Adams, Our National Parks
A classic, both in photographic style and in subject matter. You won't find a single color photo in this collection, but Mr. Adams' use of black and white and the varying hues in between requires a greater involvement of subject texture and thus often makes a bolder statement that a corresponding color image might.
You can find other reading suggestions in the Traveler's Fireside Reads section. Please let us know what you'd add to these mentions.