I can’t think of a better way pass the time between outdoors adventures than reading about the great outdoors.
A while a good travel memoir can get you in the mood, research is an invaluable tool to help ensure you have a memorable trip (memorable in a positive sense). There are a lot of online blogs and sites that can help you, but I have some books I like as well.
I like books because I am better an processing information when I have it in a book than when I am reading something online. Often, when I am traveling, I am visiting places that don’t internet. Having a book on hand helps. I can tear out pages I need, highlight and make notes in the margin.
There are a lot of books out there, but here are my recommendations. I’ve included my all time favorite book for planning a national parks trip, plus a few other good ones. I’ve also included a couple of books I like on camping in general.
- Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 58 National Parks. by Michael Joseph Oswald. This books is a rundown of the 58 park, organized by region. Oswald gives readers a background on the park, maps, best hiking trails, and other activities and information. My favorite part was the suggested itineraries for each park. I’ve looked through a lot of National Park books and this was the most comprehensive. When we went on our epic road trip, I took my book apart and carried the sections of the parks we were visiting. Always double check information in this book or any guide book with the park website in case of closures. Pros: hike recommendations based on difficulty, maps, and suggested itineraries. Cons: book only covers national parks and doesn’t include info on sites in the national park system like national monuments and national historic sites.
- The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges. by David L. Scott and Kay W. Scott. I received this book as a birthday present. As I read through vivid descriptions of the lodges in Yellowstone, I began to picture myself there. It visuals sparked my imagination and prompted me to plan our Epic family road trip. The couple that wrote this book describe lodges, cabins and hotels that are located within National Park Boundaries. If a park doesn’t have lodging within it’s boundary, you won’t find it in this book. They also did a good job of discussing pros and cons of various hotels in the park in a practical tone and recommend not only which hotels they like, but even which rooms they like. Pros: If you want to stay within the park boundary in a hotel, this book is a must read to decide where to stay. The descriptions will awaken your imagination to your own trip. Cons: The book sticks to buildings within camp boundaries. If you want to tent camp or stay right outside the park, you’ll have to get advice from somewhere else.
- Various National Park Guides published by National Geographic. National Geographic publishes a number of guide books to the National Geographic, including one aimed kids. The books have interesting facts about each park as well as beautiful pictures (nothing less than what you would expect from National Geographic). These are nice books to look at and get an overview or flavor of park, but they aren’t designed to help you plan a trip or itinerary to a park. Pros: Gives good overview and facts about each park as well as great photos. Cons: Not as in-depth for planning purposes.
While I blog mostly about National Parks, I wanted to include a couple of books on camping in general. The idea of camping for those who have never gone seems overwhelming. Why do it? Because when you camp, you can experience some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes not matter what your income bracket. For example, a room Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton (probably the most expensive National Park property), is a little under $600 a night. We camped at Jenny Lake, woke up to the same amazing view, for $18 a night. We spent the money we saved on ice cream and a hearty breakfast at Jackson Lodge. Here are a couple of books I like to recommend on camping.
- The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping With Kids by Helen Olsson. This book is a great resource for those who never have been camping before. It gives you an overview of things to plan. I especially like all the lists she has in the back to help you plan what to take. Some of the things might not be useful for your trip, but it’s a really good introduction to camping.
2. Camp Out! by Lynn Brunelle. This is a great book for kids. My five-year-old found this book at our local library ahead of our Epic family road trip in 2017. I ended up buying a copy. He’s a planner like me and liked the lists in the book. But it also has interesting nature facts on things like animal tracks and stargazing, fun recipes, crafts and recipes. It’s a great way to get kids excited about their first camping trip.
If you do buy a camping book, if especially one about national or state parks, be sure to make sure you get the latest edition and always remember to double check info with the park to make sure you have most up-to-date information.