Today, August 25, 2016, is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. The best way to celebrate, of course, is to get out there and, as the park service puts it, Find Your Park. (This weekend is a particularly good time to do so, as all parks are fee-free August 25 through August 28.) But, just as with birding, if you can’t be out there, you can always read about it. Here are a few of my favorite books on America’s national parks:
- Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks
by Michael Joseph Oswald
This is the best guidebook to all of the capital-N, capital-P National Parks (with the exception of Pinnacles, which was “upgraded” to National Park status after the book was published). It provides brief summaries of the parks and their history and personal recommendations of the “to do” activities. Before you buy, though, just be aware that there is a second edition set to be published January 1, 2017, which will include Pinnacles, new photos, and other small changes.
- The National Parks: An Illustrated History
by Kim Heacox and National Geographic
This is an excellent overview of the history of the national parks, illustrated with tons of photographs.
- The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks
by Terry Tempest Williams
Of the many books about the national parks published this year, this one stands out. In it, Williams writes about a selection of parks that have made an impact on her. It’s an excellent read.
- A Thinking Person’s Guide To America’s National Parks
Don’t let the title put you off – this is an excellent book for any fan of the national parks. It’s a series of essays on various park-related topics – from conservation to how to engage the next generation. It’s a nice variety of topics, and a good introduction to many of the lesser-known units in the park service.
- The National Parks: America’s Best Idea
by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan
You may have seen this on PBS. But if not – and even if you have, actually – having it on blu-ray or DVD is a good idea so that you can watch it whenever the mood hits. And this series is so good that could be very often, indeed. Alternatively, Amazon Prime members can watch for free