Best National Park Books to Buy a Park Chaser

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 that Park Chaser on your Christmas shopping list. Many of these books also appear in our Amazon Bookstore link at the top of the page (and buying through these links will help us chase more parks in 2017 – which we definitely appreciate!)  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 National Parks: America’s Best Idea

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.

The National Parks: An American Legacy

This book was one of our Christmas gifts last year 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.

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

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.

America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book

Every time we spot this pop-up book in a bookstore, one of us has to open it up and flip through it – the Grand Canyon page is terrific!

The Centennial Book Cover by Cardinal Dave

The Centennial: A Journey through America’s National Park System

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. 

Fodor’s The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West (Full-color Travel Guide)

We’ve used this guidebook on more trips than we can count. While it may not always capture our Park Chasing style, it is a good starting point to inspire trips and extra planning!

National Geographic Complete National Parks of the United States, 2nd Edition

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.

59 Illustrated National Parks – Softcover: 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service

When the Works Progress Administration posters came out in the 1920s and 1930s to advertise the new National Park System, these illustrations became instant icons.  Remade for the 2016 Centennial anniversary, this is a terrific collection of artwork and history of each of the 59 National Parks.

Backpacker The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes

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.

National Park Roads: A Legacy in the American Landscape

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.

Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges

If you know where you plan to drive and plan to hike, the next step is to figure out where to stay. National Park lodges have become icons of these protected spaces. From the massive Old Faithful Inn to the smaller cabins and lodges, this book will inspire all of your next National Park stays.



Greg & Amy
Chasing a visit to all 400+ units in the NPS
Current Count: 101/423


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