Many times we find ourselves in a national park just to marvel at the beauty, explore the wondrous sights, or simply kick back and relax without the pressures the rest of the world weighs on us. But there are times when the parks help us in other ways, holding memories that comfort us.
NPT Reviews of Books and other Material
A collection of book reviews to help you pick the perfect read for your national park escape
Kim Heacox has a long history with Denali National Park, beginning in 1981 when he was a rookie interpretive ranger. Rhythm of the Wild is a memoir, describing how Denali National Park has influenced him over three decades during which he experienced the park as a ranger, as a visitor, and as a writer-in-residence.
Wrecked In Yellowstone: Greed, Obsession, And The Untold Story Of Yellowstone's Most Infamous Shipwreck
A few years back, Editor Kurt Repanshek and I had an opportunity to tag along on a research boat headed across Yellowstone Lake. I remember it vividly, because on the way back an afternoon mountain storm whipped up some foamy whitecaps and our boat started to look pretty small for such a big lake (it covers 136 square miles, at an altitude of 7,700 feet).
Mike Yochim, through his two previous books, Yellowstone and the Snowmobile and Protecting Yellowstone has established himself as a legitimate voice and scholar of national park history. Now supplemented by a third book, A Week in Yellowstone’s Thorofare, Yochim has transitioned to something vastly more personal and far less academic.
Coyotes are everywhere in the continental United States despite nearly a century and half of determined efforts to destroy them. The more concerted the effort to trap, shoot, and poison them, the greater their range and their numbers. Next to the wolf, environmental historian Dan Flores writes, the coyote has been and is the most hated, persecuted, and misunderstood member of America’s wildlife community. It has not always been so.
King Sequoia: The Tree That Inspired A Nation, Created Our National Park System, And Changed The Way We Think About Nature
One of my favorite spots in California, just a few miles away from the congestion of the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, is a little known forest glen: Nelder Grove. A century ago this was a logging site, formerly named Fresno Grove, where the towering Sequoias crashed to the ground, to be cut up for grape stakes and fence posts. Massive stumps dot the quiet, verdant hillside, and some giants yet still stand. I always asked myself why, and how, this grove fell, while others went untouched, and were protected.
Anyone who has heard Terry Tempest Williams speak or who has read her writing knows how personal her approach is to her subject, thus the “personal topography” of the subtitle of this book. Visits to 12 units of the National Park System, including seven national parks, two national monuments, a national military park, national seashore, and national recreation area, provide grist for her exploration of this topography and a sampling of different elements of the system.
There are more than a few new books out this year revolving around national parks, and the one that has provided the most wonderment and joy tied to rangering has been Yellowstone Ranger by Jerry Mernin, who spent more than three decades patrolling the front and backcountry of Yellowstone National Park and left us with insights, hardships, humor, and great satisfaction from a career that left him wishing he could have had "another 32 years to work in Yellowstone."
While George Bucknam Dorr had the wherewithal to travel extensively about the world and do anything with his life, he came to cherish the landscape of Mount Desert Island along coastal Maine. It was a lifelong connection spurred by childhood vacations on the island, one that spawned a tireless, and selfless, campaign to both conserve the island’s landscape and, more importantly, see it included within the National Park System.
A grizzly bear attack is a frightful, horrible thing. Long claws raking the body, the cracking of bones, dragging off the victim to consume, then burying it under a thin layer of forest duff.
There is an inland sea of sand that relatively few people realize exists. While the sand dunes of Death Valley National Park are fairly well-known, and most people are aware of the sand dunes at our national seashores, the towering dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado are unknown to most.
For Danny Bernstein, retirement is best enjoyed by following a path through the woods, or a tour through a unit of the National Park System. Whether the park is focused on history, or culture, or natural beauty doesn't matter. For Ms. Bernstein, being in the park system and enjoying and learning from it is what matters.
Erin Peabody has crafted a book on Yellowstone National Park that follows a common path in telling the story of how the world's first national park came about, but which through her deep research and colorful writing rises as an entertaining and informative work that deserves a space on every park lover's bookshelf.