Some Items To Consider For Your Year-End Gift List

What can you stuff the stocking with, or place under the tree, at year's end for your national park or outdoor lover? Let us count the items.

Books: Good Reads For National Park And Outdoor Lovers

Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs Of Mark Klett And Byron Wolfe

In Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe we are treated to a Jigsaw puzzle of sorts that spans 150 years of Grand Canyon photography, paintings, sketches, and even postcards, a seamless melding of the past and present as seen through works of such giants as Ansel Adams and Thomas Moran.

Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale Of The Bermuda Petrel And The Man Who Brought It Back From Extinction

Rebuilding habitat to what it once was is no easy task, but David Wingate's success in largely reassembling the flora and fauna on one of Bermuda's island can be seen not only in the vegetation, but in a bird once thought extinct.

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Hiking The Wonderland Trail: The Complete Guide To Mount Rainier's Premier Trail

This book is a great aid to planning and completing this particular long-distance hike because the 93-mile Wonderland Trail is no ordinary walk in the woods. That's obvious from the trail fact that you'll gain, and lose, about 22,000 vertical feet as you circle the dormant volcano. Some days while you're cursing the trail's steep switchbacks will be sunny and mild, others will leave you searching your way in a dense, damp fog, perhaps with a chilly drizzle on your shoulders.

Mr. Hornaday's War: How A Peculiar Zookeeper Waged A Lonely Crusade For Wildlife That Changed The World

William Temple Hornaday was a very extraordinary man whom we should be honoring for his crusade to save wildlife, including bison, and yet history shunted him off to a dusty side table until Stefan Bechtel happened accidentally upon him.

World War II Memorial: "Jewel Of The Mall"

In his book on the Jewel of the Mall, the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., photographer Stephen R. Brown not only captures the solemnity of the memorial, as well as its magnificent architecture and design, but also goes behind the scene to document the bronze castings, granite carvings, and erection of the memorial.

Empire Of Shadows: The Epic Story Of Yellowstone

In Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone, author George Black pulls on three main threads that went into the creation of Yellowstone National Park: America's lust for exploring its new lands, a determination to drive Native Americans from their homelands, and the political backstory of Yellowstone.

How To Be A Better Birder

Sure, we'd all like to be better birders! Who takes up any hobby with no desire to keep becoming better at it? Half the fun is continually learning new ways to have fun with your hobby.

Atlas Of Yellowstone

At first glance, the Atlas of Yellowstone is a trivia lover's guide to Yellowstone National Park, with additional insights to neighboring Grand Teton National Park. But the heart and soul of this fact- and map-filled book is Yellowstone and its landscape, its occupants both human and animal, and the reach and impact of this wondrous terrain.

Before They're Gone, A Family's Year-Long Quest To Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks

In approaching Before They're Gone, A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks, Michael Lanza desires to take his young son and daughter to places that most amazed him -- national parks -- before climate change alters their appearance too greatly.

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The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide

You would think someone who has circumnavigated Alaska by foot, skis, and raft would know a little something about backpacking gear, and Andrew Skurka certainly does.

Snake in the Grass: An Everglades Invasion

In Snake in the Grass: An Everglades Invasion, Larry Perez takes us into the green leafy realm of Everglades National Park not in pursuit of the python, but rather in its wake. And it is a wide wake at that.

Your Guide To The National Parks: The Complete Guide To All 58 National Parks

This hefty guide to the national parks -- the 58 "national parks" -- strives to go a step further than the texts offered by publishers such as Fodor's, Frommers, and Falcon Guides.

Gear And Other Things You'll Find Handy

Osprey's Atmos 65 Backpack

Traveling light in the backcountry is quite subjective. Gear that is a necessity to one person, is superfluous to another. A heavy pack to one person is light to another. That, no doubt, is why not all backpacks are created equal.

Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir XTherm

Perhaps it comes with age, or inadequate sleeping pads, but in recent years I've often found myself shivering through the night during fall backpacking treks.

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The comfy NeoAir XTherm at work. Kurt Repanshek photo.

But the arrival of a revolutionary pad from Therm-a-Rest carries the warm promise of making those nights distant memories.

What Protects Your Foot From Your Boot?

What you put between your foot and your boot when hiking, say, down the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, is just as important as the boot you slip your foot into. Which is why we wanted to update you with what's out there on the sock market.

Trekking Poles

A set of sticks is a handy thing to have when you're hiking in the National Park System. They take some of the load off your knees, can offer you greater stability, and, in a pinch, can help you pitch your tent. But which set of trekking poles is right for you? Traveler tested three brands.

Water Vessels, Steel And Otherwise

With disposable water bottles on their way out from a number of national parks, what's the best way to stay hydrated in the parks? Here are some options for you to consider.

Wool Base Layers

Stay warm and dry during your national park visit and you’ll have the foundation for staying happy during that visit. And there are a number of items out there on the market that can help you accomplish that. More than a few are made from wool. Not the scratchy stuff, but finely spun Merino wool. Products in this category that we like include items from Icebreaker’s GT 200 Technical Base Layer collection, as well as Dale of Norway’s Merino wool items.

If wool is a problem for you, check out the HH Dry series of baselayers from Helly Hansen. The LIFA® fibers woven into these items are as soft and smooth against your skin as wool, and are equally efficient at wicking away moisture while keeping you dry. And it has a bit more stretch than some of the wool layers out there. Thanks to Helly Hansen’s ability to produce these garments without seams, you’re unlikely to run into chafing, and the company guarantees these products will be “100 percent itch free.” Price-wise, the company’s Stripe Crew for men retails for $40, while the HH Warm Stripe Crew, with added insulation for winter months, is double that.

Clif Bars For The Season

Clif Bar has a special series of "seasonal flavor" bars revolving around Thanksgiving (pumpkin spice) and Christmas (Peppermint stick and gingerbread). These are tasty bars to slip into your pack or pocket when you head out for a hike, ski, snowshoe, or something else outdoors. Each 68 gram bar totes 240 calories, along with salts (sodium, 6 percent of DV, and potassium, 5 percent of DV), sugars (24 grrams), and proteins (9 grams) to help keep you going. I sampled some back in September during a trip to Yellowstone and must say the flavors come through in the bars. Peppermint Stick tastes surprisingly like ... a peppermint stick, though I liked the Iced Gingerbread a tad better.

Bring The Sound Of The Parks Into Your Home

The composers and musicians at Orange Tree Productions went out into the parks and returned to their studios with the ambient sounds of the parks -- gurgling streams, birds chirping, wolves howling, horses clopping, and even fumaroles sputtering -- and used them as the foundation for their musical scores. Not only will your purchase of one or more of their CDs keep the parks alive in your house, but the company donates a portion of their revenues back to the parks.

Donate To Your Favorite National Park Friends Groups

National park friends groups are always looking for help, whether it's a donation of money or time. Consider the great number of park friends organizations for year-end charitable gifts. They'll be happy, you'll be happy, and you'll come away with a tax deduction.