There are times when one national park jaunt could entail visits to several national parks, and so you might think you'll need several guidebooks to the parks on your itinerary. Well, if you're heading to the High Sierra parks of Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, there's just one book you really need.
And Yosemite & The Southern Sierra Nevada by David Page not only takes you to those parks, but provides finely detailed information on Death Valley National Park and areas to the east and west of the parks.
No disrespect to all those national park app makers out there, but you just won't find the detail and resources in those apps that Mr. Page has crammed into his 400+-page book.
This edition actually is the 2nd of this title. Mr. Page first brought it to the world back in 2009. In putting together this update, he not only revised sections on lodgings, where to eat, and what to do, but he's stretched here and there and grown this edition by some 50+ pages. Some of the content is within the national parks, some from neighboring areas.
In the chapter on Sequoia and Kings Canyon, for instance, you'll find a two-page spread on mountain biking at the Old Craig Ranch above Three Rivers. And there's a section on Kernville and the Great Western Divide Highway. You'll find a history on skiing at Mammoth Lakes, (handy information for you winter visitors), and a solid section on the Owens Valley and surrounding environs.
You'll find information not just on hiking and backpacking, but on swimming, climbing, cycling, skiing, boating, fishing, bird-watching and more. Did you know that at the Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site in Bishop, California, you can explore 11 acres of exhibits, including the "original 1883 Laws depot, post office, and agent's house, much as they were when the last train ran in 1960"?
Some of the information is straightforward and unvarnished, such as this passage in the Death Valley chapter: "There is expensive gas and free water available year-round at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, and Panamint Springs. There is a mechanic of some kind on general duty at the Furnace Creek Chevron -- and a AAA tow truck. There is no gas at Scotty's Castle. There is no gas at Death Valley Junction (try Mom's Convenience Store, 7 miles to the north and across the state line). Gas is sold at slightly more reasonable prices in Lone Pine, Olancha, Ridgecrest, Shoshone, and Beatty."
Mr. Page even provides a filmography of Death Valley, starting with the 1923 silent film Greed with Gibson Gowland and Jean Hersholt and continuing up to the 2010 production, Tree of Life, that starred Sean Penn and Brad Pitt.
Complementing the detailed narrative are photos -- both present-day and historic -- maps, and oodles of resources that help you find outfitters, gear, lodgings, park gift shops, chamber bureaus, weather information, recommendations on maps you should consider buying, even places to board your pets while you explore on foot.
From a park junky's viewpoint, a slight in the book is the relatively scant information provided on Devils Postpile National Monument. There's less than a page of profile on this unique pocket of the Sierra, a setting cruised by the overlapping John Muir and Pacific Crest trails, where intriguing geology is in your face in the form of the Postpile itself, and where the 100 species of birds make it a worthy stop for birders.