Nothing says Happy Holidays like a “Best Books” list. Today we’re sharing an updated list of some of favorites on a “Best National Park Books” to buy for the Park Chaser on your Christmas shopping list.
Just a reminder that the links below are affiliate and buying through these links will help us chase more parks!
If you have a smaller reader on your shopping list, don’t miss our “Best National Park Books for Kids List”
Whenever we are looking for our next park to chase, it always seems like we look to the same places for ideas and inspiration. Word of mouth from the trips of fellow Park Chasers usually gets our vacation wheels a’turning. So do our Facebook and Instagram feeds. But 9 times out of 10 though, the idea for our next park to chase comes from something we’ve read.
Since our first trip to Glacier in 2010, we’ve been voracious collectors of books about our National Parks. Our bookshelves and nightstands have a steady supply detailing the photography, history, and conservation of our parks. We keep a running list from the Visitor’s Centers and bookstores on our vacations and ask for them as Christmas and Birthday gifts later in the year. And we have often found that a few minutes of flipping through color photos of beautiful places can take the edge off what otherwise seemed like a long work day.
Today we thought we’d share some of our favorites. Some of these have inspired us to pack our bags and set sail, and others were souvenirs from the places we’ve been. Mostly, we hope picking up a new page-turner encourages you to do some #parkchasing of your own.
The Best National Park Books to Buy a Park Chaser
Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan have inspired thousands of people to visit the National Parks. Including The Park Chasers. Their historical book (and PBS documentary) inspired our best idea ever: to take our very first National Park vacation in 2010. This is a gorgeous coffee table book with full-color images of the best of the park system.
This book was one of our favorite Christmas gifts and arguably one of the best photography collections of the parks ever produced. It is a must-have coffee table selection for anyone who enjoys the National Parks and scenic photography.
While not exclusively national parks, Jimmy Chin’s brand new coffee table book is what’s on our list this year! Many of the shots in this collection of his greatest photography happen in our parks, including Denali and the famous Free Solo accent of Yosemite’s El Capitan. A must-have for 2021.
It’s hard to imagine where our protected lands would be without President Theodore Roosevelt’s passion for the national parks. Douglas Brinkley’s careful history of Roosevelt’s conservation work should be on everyone’s stack for the #NPS100 Centennial celebration.
One of the most popular national park Instagram accounts, Subpar Parks shares gorgeous WPA inspired art with hilarious one-star reviews of our national parks. This gift book is one of our favorites to give to fellow #parkchasers.
Chasing a visit to the 400+ national park units involves stops at hundreds of national monuments. This coffee table book is a great reminder that some of our best public spaces are the less-traveled monuments.
Written by one of our 2019 Park Chaser Profiles, David Kroese, this is the first published narrative covering all 400+ National Park Service sites, a two-year adventure across every state and territory. Join David and experience the inherent marvels within America’s diverse landscapes and their fascinating human and natural history, revealed in engaging context, poetic descriptions, and heartfelt appreciation. The Centennial: A Journey Through America’s National Park System is an odyssey of self-discovery and fulfillment through the nation’s soul.
We’ve used this guidebook on more trips than we can count. There’s a brand new edition out for 2021 with ALL the latest on park reservation systems and the best front-country camping. While it may not always capture our Park Chasing style, it is a good starting point to inspire trips and extra planning!
This the most current edition of National Geographic’s visual guide to the National Park Service. Published for the 2016 Centennial, it’s a great addition to any Park Chaser’s bookshelf. It’s also a good choice for the first-timer who is just getting to know the parks.
Fifty-Nine Parks believes that public lands and the art of printmaking are traditions worth preserving. Each of Fifty-Nine Parks’ posters are beautifully screen printed in the United States and represent artists from around the world. The poster series is archived by the Library of Congress, and a portion from each poster sale is donated to support the conservation of American public lands.
Hands down the most popular way to get out in the parks is to go for a hike. Backpacker magazine put together this guide to the best hikes in the National Parks for the 2016 centennial. It has good day and multi-day hiking trips for all skill levels and interests. It will help every Park Chaser in planning their next National Park adventure.
If you don’t want to see the park on foot, then certainly enjoying one of the Great National Park Drives is in order. The road trip has become an American childhood right of passage for many. With stops in the national parks being a highlight of these trips.
Winner of the 2020 Foreword Indie Book of the Year – Nature award, Walks of a Lifetime covers the adventures of Bob and Martha Manning, Hiking Ambassadors for the American Hiking Society. Walks in this book range from short hikes to multi-day backpacking trips to some of the best spots in the NPS.
During our visits to Glacier, Crater Lake, Grand Canyon, and Mount Rainier, we’ve been lucky enough to stay in national park lodges. From the massive Old Faithful Inn to the smaller cabins and lodges, this book will inspire all of your next National Park stays.