Wander through a National Park to learn about the people of the past. Or explore a National Park and discover a majestic landscape with moutains, forests or oceans. Hike a trail with friends or family. Whatever your reasons, a book can help you with your journey. With 63 national parks along with over 400 NPS sites that protect areas of significance in the U.S., that’s a lot of territory. A National Park book can help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If you, or some one you love, is a National Park enthusiast then a book about the National Park Service is the perfect gift. Find National Park books for the weekend adventurer, the full-time RVer, the history buff, and even the kids. Here’s a list of the best books about the National Parks.
Best National Park Books for Trip Planning
National Parks offer amazing experiences from the scenery to the wildlife to the historic lodges. Though the data coverge is really bad, like non-existant in most cases. For the most enjoyable trip, research before you start you trip is important. And don’t forget to pack a great guide for the road too.
This 2023 update gives you all the up-to-date information about the U.S. National Parks. In addition, find detailed itineraries to make the most of your trip from family trips to adventure seekers to full-time RVers. For the active travelers, get details about the best activities in each park, like hiking, biking, tours and more. There’s even road trip itineraries for those wishing to see several national parks in the same getaway.
Road Trip USA: Cross Country Adventure on America’s Two-Lane Highways (25th Anniversary Edition) by Jamie Jensen
For those who want to take the byways, Road Trip USA features 11 routes that bisect the US with over 125 maps that point out the best of the road. Find lots of photographs to help travelers get a feel of the over 35,000 miles covered. Travelers will also find mile-by-mile highlights to help them plan their trip.
Rarely do road trippers just see National Parks on a trip, so the Moon USA State by State is a great companion guide for a National Park road trip. The book is divided into geographical sections, like the West Coast, Rocky Mountains and the New England.
Moon USA State by State opens with a section dedicated to the Best of the USA. You will find sections like the best natural wonders, best museums and cultural centers and of course eating your way through the USA.
Each state section opens with highlight section followed by a map, then information about what to see and do on your road trip. Moon USA State by State offers a concise guide of the must-do experiences for each state.
Blurring the line between coffee table book and guide book, it is just as informative as it is inspiring. Packed with stunning photos, this book offers details for 40 bucket list trips. From the US and Canada to Latin American and Europe to drives in Africa and the Middle East, travelers (both arm chair and adventurers) can explore from Patagonia to Madagascar with this guide.
Moon Baseball Road Trips: The Complete Guide to all the Ballparks with Beer, Bite and Sights Nearby by Timothy Malcolm
Covering more than 30 cities, this guide is a must for the baseball fan in your life. With road trip itineraries across the U.S. (and don’t forget Toronto), plan a trip with stops at several parks. There’s even information about the fan culture at each park along with the field’s highlights and best bites for the games.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership/collaboration with Moon Travel Guides.
Forget about socks and underwear for National Park travelers and adventures. They need maps. I’ve used this atlas on the road for years and mine has notes in the margins along with ripped out pages. When I’m at home, it sits on my desks for trip planning. This atlas is focused on the National Parks.
National Park Travelogues
National Park books are always on my bedside table. I read to learn National Park Service history and more information for my next National Park trip. Though I like to read for fun as well. And if you don’t have time to read, then many of the following books are available as audio books as well. It’s a great way to enjoy books while doing mundane tasks.
In 1955, a 60-year-old-woman left her house in Ohio and walked about 800 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Here is her story.
Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith
A pair of young retirees, Karen and Matt Smith, take off and hit the road to see all the national parks. In a series of emails to Bob and Sue, the friends they left back home, get a park-by-park account.
A must for anyone gearing up to explore the U.S. with their spouse in tow. Get truthful accounts of the popular tours and trails. And find tips for sneaking beer into lodges along with the best pizza joints near the parks in this humorous read.
And the near plane crash in Alaska explains why I’m leery of small planes.
Grab a walking stick and set out to walk from Georgia to Maine with your favorite bearded travel writer, Bill Bryson. A pair of middle-aged dad bods are pushed to the limits and packed down with junk food as they try to ford streams in the middle of the wilderness along the AT, or Appalachian Trail. Equal parts funny and informative and possibly Bryson’s best book.
Books for the Traveler and Adventurer
Be ready for adventure and pack a map. Since WiFi and data coverage are sketchy in the remote backcountry, maps are a necessity, along with a water bottle.
I’ll just tell you this, Claire Nelson falls in Joshua Tree then has to drink her own urine to stay alive. Want more details, then read the book.
Get a detailed account of how to die in Yellowstone National Park. Should be required reading for volunteers and contract workers spending their first summer in the park. Through the seasons and over the years, learn about how the weather, the animals and the skirmishes can be deadly. Not suitable for sensitive readers or young kids.
Florence Williams walks her readers through why being outdoors is good for us. From across the world and across the centuries, Williams examines the science behind the positive effects of nature.
Books for the National Parks History Buff
If you need a gift for the history buff, here’s several books I’ve read to learn more about the National Park Service.
Creating the National Park Service: The Missing Years by Horace Albright
An interesting account from the beginning days of the National Park Service written by the second Director of the National Park Service. He started at the NPS under the first Director, Stephen Mather.
Learn about the how the national parks were protected from private interest and government oversight in an engaging account written by Horace Albright with the her of his daughter, Marian Albright Schenck. It is a fascinating read for the National Park and history lover.
National Parks and the Woman’s Voice: A History by Polly Welts Kaufman
Get the history of women in the National Park Service from the earliest interpreters and park wives to next gerneration of superintendents. It’s a detailed account of early issues from sub-par housing to how career advancement was different for women in the NPS.
Additionally learn about the female activitists and the organizations they run that worked in tandem with the NPS to protect natural areas from developement. This chronological account is a must for a most inclusive look at the history of the National Park Service.
An easy-to-read book packed with interesting facts and stories from the first 100 years of the NPS. Learn the history, the politics and the characters surrounding the legendary U.S. parks.
Let the photographers at National Geographic show you the most beautiful spots. Great for the traveler or the photography lover on your list.
Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt by John Burroughs
Relive the early days of conservation in the U.S. as told by Borroughs. He accompanied President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir during a pivotal camping trip in the Sierra Mountains. A small book that makes a good stocking stuffer.
The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley
For serious student of the national parks, Brinkley offers over 800 pages of history into the complex president who shaped the National Parks. It’s an engaging and thoughtful analysis from a historian.
Learn about 20th century pioneers that paved the way for the Great American Road Trip. In Ford’s cars see how Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs traveled in the 1920s.
The Wisdom of John Muir: 100+ Selections from the Letters, Journals, and Essays of the Great Naturalist
Get the best of John Muir’s lyrical writings in this collection. Pulled from his books, articles and even personal letters, Rowthorn offers insight into the thoughts of Muir.
Where to Stay if You Don’t Camp
This book is the gold standard though more a reference book than a guidebook for your trip. PBS made a series exploring the architecture of the NPS too. It’s a must for architecture fans too.
Offering a packable size, this guide covers all the national park lodges in the National Park Service. This book is more of a travel guide provides information for trips.
National Park Books for Kids
Since I have three kids, I’m always picking up books on our adventures. I especially like children’s books with rich and detailed illustrations.
Can’t tell you what I love better–mazes or the national parks. If you are or know a maze kid, here’s the book. Learn about the uniqueness of the U.S. and Canadian national parks, from Branff to Crater Lake to the U.S. Virgin Islands to Yellowstone. Work the maze and get to know the park. This book even includes a glossary.
A charming series of five books divided by region, like Western region and the Rocky Mountain Region. Kids learn about individual parks, like the geological features and the animals of the park.
Then kids can fill out a page to document their visit, including space for park cancellation stamps. Makes for an excellent companion for national park road trips.
This is a Book for People Who Love the National Parks by Matt Garczyski
I loved the portable size of this handbook. It features a short introduction into the National Park Service. Then read two page summeries of the more popular parks across the U.S. The illustrations are charming as well.
After reading, I really wanted to see the last of my remaining parks, like Voyageurs National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Here’s your book to cover all 62 National Parks for kids. Packed with information in kid-sized bites.
In a guide with charming illustrations, kids can explore the big book of national parks. Starts with nifty things to know about visiting National Parks, then learn about the parks in ABC order. So this is a great reference guide for kids. Or get them excited about a national parks road trip.
A great read-aloud book to learn more about conservation and the Father of the National Parks.
Kids engage with the historical characters so learn about the legendary duo that trekked from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. There are several national park sites dedicated to Lewis and Clark sprinkled across the U.S.
Journey Around Our National Parks by Martha Day Zschock
Take a virtual trip through the national parks, or get excited for an upcoming trip. Offers charming illustrations for kids.
Don’t underestimate the power of poop. Kids dig it. Find a book from your favorite national park and they’re a hit with kids in the lower grades.
This post contains affiliate links. Some books received for review purposes.