One of the best parts of travel is getting to learn about someplace new. You get to explore, talk with locals, and experience a place that’s different than your home. With a great book, you can get the travel experience from anywhere — and, it can be a great way to get excited about your upcoming trip.
If you’re planning to spend some time in nature this summer, you’ll want a book companion to inspire you with all that nature has to offer. These national park-inspired books will be just the thing to add to your summer reading list. No matter what you’re interested in, we’ve got a recommendation that’s sure to pique your interest.
For a Laugh: Subpar Parks
Believe it or not, the national parks have yelp pages. And yes, they receive some one-star reviews. What started as an Instagram account quickly became a New York Times bestseller when designer and illustrator Amber Share turned the reviews into a book, Subpar Parks. While you might start reading this book for the funny, clueless reviews, you’ll stay for the graphic design and imagery.
For a Peek Behind the Scenes: Ranger Confidential
Want to get a behind the scenes look at what the national parks are like with no other visitors around? Andrea Lankford’s memoir Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks is just what you’re looking for. In this book, you can read about interesting encounters with wildlife, park visitors, and learn how she navigated through it all.
For a True Crime Lover: Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
While most of us visit the national parks and think only about the beauty and bounty of nature, true crime fans know there’s always more to the story. In this book, you can learn about accidents and deaths that occurred in the first national park in the U.S.
For an Adventure Story: Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America’s National Parks
While many of us visit the national parks for some sightseeing and light hiking, there are also the ultimate adventurers who come for climbing, camping, and backpacking. Get a glimpse at a different type of adventure by reading Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America’s National Parks where author Mark Woods shares his stories from his once-in-a-lifetime trip.
For Kids: Seek & Find: National Parks
While visiting a national park is a great way to spend a family-friendly summer vacation, kids can also lose interest quickly during long drives. Seek & Find: National Parks is the perfect travel companion to keep kids entertained. This book covers popular parks such as Crater Lake, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Great Smoky Mountains.
For a History Buff: The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
While the land formations in the national parks are as old as time, the idea of protected land that’s set aside exclusively for conservation and visitors is pretty modern. For the history lover in your group, you’ll want to bring along a copy of Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. This novel dives into Roosevelt’s presidency and conservation efforts.
For a Fiction Lover: The Wild Inside
Sometimes, all you want while on vacation is to get lost in a good book. The Wild Inside is the first in a series written by Christine Carbo. Set in Glacier National Park, this book follows Ted, a Special Agent for the Department of the Interior, as he tries to solve the mystery of a bear mauling.
For an Old Fashioned Kids’ Adventure Fiction: Willa of the Woods
If you’ll be traveling with younger adventurers and want to get them inspired about nature, Willa of the Woods is the perfect place to start. Inspired by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee people who once resided in that area, this book follows Willa, a young night-spirit on her adventures.
For Vintage Vibes: Where the Fire Falls
If you’re looking for a book that has a little bit of everything, look no further. Where the Fire Falls has romance, adventure, mystery, and vintage vibes. Set in the 1920s, watercolor painter Olivia Rutherford is assigned to paint the Firefall event in Yosemite National Park. Then, she meets Clark Johnson who shows Olivia the wonders of Yosemite.
For Expanding Your Understanding: Dispossessing the Wilderness
When the U.S. formed the national parks, the goal was to keep the land pristine so that many generations to come could visit and see its beauty. Unfortunately, by protecting these lands, the government also removed the people who had been living on these lands for generations. Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks by Mark David Spence dives into the difficult and complicated history of the national parks and the people who lived there first.
This summer, get inspired ahead of your national park trip by reading a nature-themed book. No matter what you love to read, there’s a perfect book to add to your to-read list for your national park trip this summer.