One of the hidden gems of American life along with libraries is our “best idea”, the National Park system, which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year, August 25th to be exact. Today there are 59 National Parks and more than 400 nationally designated memorials, historic sites, preserves, seashores and much more.
OC Public Libraries has many resources about the national parks to help you plan for trips. So if your summer includes a road trip to one of our country’s beautiful national parks, check out some of the wonderful books or dvds we have to offer while planning your trip.
For a complete overview of the United States’ national park system The National Parks: America’s Best Idea: An Illustrated History by Dayton Duncan is an excellent comprehensive guide to the history of the parks. Ken Burns made a fantastic companion DVD based on the book above in 2009 which originally aired as a series on PBS.
Some of the newer books in the library system on the United States’ national parks as a whole, many published this year and last to commemorate the 100th year anniversary, include the following:
The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams is described as “part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique”…and “a meditation and manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.”
The Wonder of It All: 100 Stories from the National Park Service by Jonathan B. Jarvis includes short one to two page stories from 100 different park employees and volunteers from various national parks from coast to coast on every conceivable park topic from wildlife in the parks to search and rescue operations.
A Thinking Person’s Guide to America’s National Parks by Robert Manning is described in the online catalog as “a collection of essays that delve into issues affecting America's national parks and historic sites. The authors, who all have deep personal and professional connections to the national parks, explore how the nation's biological and cultural diversity is represented; the importance of balancing between recreation and preservation; the dynamics of nature as they are shaped by a changing climate; and innovations in technology, sustainability, and stewardship that provide a sense of purpose and hope.”
For those planning a trip this year, you may wish to check out the following books.
Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges by David Scott Logan includes practical information on the history and accommodations at many of the national park lodges that are considered architectural and historical treasures.
If you are looking for information on some of the most iconic hikes in the national parks, you may consider The National Parks Coast to Coast: The 100 Best Hikes by Ted Alvarez.
We also have plenty of books on individual national parks.
Simply search for each park by name in the subject search field of our online catalog to get updated travel books on specific parks.
If you wish to read about some famous people associated with National Parks, consider those below.
John Muir was a critical figure in establishing the national parks and is today considered the "Father of the National Parks." He camped and hiked with President Theodore Roosevelt, another heavy supporter of the national park concept, in 1903 through the Yosemite and Sierra Nevada area and is considered one of the most vocal proponents of the national park system. You may wish to read his
My First Summer in the Sierra
and The Mountains of California.
Or you may wish to study the lives of some of the explorers such as John Wesley Powell, who led the first expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869. His diary and memoir, The exploration of the Colorado River and its canyons document his adventures.
For children, there is the Mysteries in our National Parks series by Gloria Skurzynski, which is similar to the Nevada Barr books in that it’s set in different national parks and covers various conservation issues mostly concerning wildlife. The first in the series is Wolf Stalker and is about wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone. Others in the series include mysteries about whales beaching themselves off Acadia National Park, condors in the Grand Canyon National Park, manatees in Everglades National Park, bats in Carlsbad Caverns, wild mustangs in Zion National Park and many more. We have mysteries 1-12 in our library system and the books are shelved in XFICI which is considered roughly a 3rd to 5th grade reading level.So go forth, explore like our forefathers and enjoy the numerous national parks/ monuments of our country knowing that you are prepared and well informed with books from the library.