The Best National Parks Books to Inform & Inspire
These books on American National Parks will inform and inspire
From Acadia to Dry Tortugas and from Hawaii Volcanoes to Gates of the Arctic in Alaska, U.S. National Parks provide some of the most popular travel destinations year after year. And while you may not be able to visit every park or as often as you’d like, you can enjoy the beauty of these parks through some wonderful books. These are the very best national parks books.
The best books on American national parks will inspire you as well as inform you about their history, features and available activities. There are even some great books about national parks written specifically for children.
So take a look. You’re sure to find something you just can’t live without. They also make great national park gift options.
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National parks books: coffee table books
The National Parks: America’s Best Idea
Have you seen the Ken Burns documentary about National Parks? First of all, if you haven’t done that and you’re a National Parks lover, then you need to see it for sure.
You’ll be an expert in national park history.
But there’s also a book. It will make you appreciate so much the people like John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt who believed strongly that there are places that need to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
National Parks are important places, and if you’re a fan, you’ll also love learning about how they came to be National Parks.
Buy it on Amazon. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.
The National Parks of the United States: A Photographic Journey
This book was published near the centennial of the National Park Service (in 2016), so it doesn’t include all 63 National Parks, but the photos in there are just beautiful.
The book also includes details about each park featured, quotes from park rangers and famous personalities such as Mark Twain, and a map overview of each park in the book.
The author, Andrew Thomas, is the winner of the 2011 Burrard-Lucas International Photography Contest.
National Geographic The National Parks: An Illustrated History
You can’t go wrong with National Geographic books for any travel lover in your life, but especially for National Park lovers.
This book celebrates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. National Park Service, and includes NPS sites such as Gettysburg and the Statue of Liberty…no just National Parks.
The author is a former U.S. National Park Service ranger.
National Geographic: Atlas of the National Parks
Along with beautiful photography, National Geographic’s Atlas of the National Parks features Maps of the parks along with informative graphics.
Like the book above, Atlas of the National Parks was written by a former park ranger with the U.S. National Park Service.
National Parks books featuring artwork
The Art of the National Parks
Be prepared to get bowled over by the beautiful artwork in this book.
And it’s not just a great book for art lovers, it also includes helpful information about the featured parks including top sites in the parks, the flora and fauna you’ll find there, plus tips for visiting.
Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors
I dare you to read this without laughing out loud. It’s a favorite book among national park lovers because it is just so funny.
Artist Amber Share created National Parks posters featuring quotes from those who weren’t as impressed with the parks they visited as some others were. In fact, there are people who post 1-star reviews of parks like Glacier, Yellowstone and Acadia.
Mind boggling, I know, but it’s apparently true. And they’re hilarious. Take for example, the person who visited Yellowstone then took the time to write online: “Save yourself some money, boil some water at home.”
This book is perfect for National Park lovers with a good sense of humor.
Informative National Park Guide Books
National Geographic Complete National Parks of the United States
This is National Geographic’s comprehensive travel guide to the U.S. National Parks. It’s 544 pages of helpful info all about the park locations, top attractions, historical background, best time to visit, with maps and more.
This book includes information on parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, scenic trails, recreation areas, and seashores.
And since it’s National Geographic you know that the photos will be great.
Fodor’s The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA
Fodor’s is one of the most trusted names in travel guide books. Their Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA includes essential information about all 63 U.S. National Parks.
It includes over 70 maps, itinerary options, recommendations from locals about sites, restaurants, hotels, and more.
You’ll also find cultural and historical insights as well as beautiful photos to keep you inspired as you plan your trip.
Rand McNally 2022 Road Atlas & National Park Guide
If you like a good paper map and you love traveling the National Parks, you’ll probably want to get your hands on a copy of the Rand McNally National Park Road Atlas and Travel Guide.
This spiral bound book includes a guide to the best of the best of the parks, plus detailed road maps of cities and the parks and a driving times map (helpful!).
Think of it as the companion book to your amazing road trip.
National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States
It’s National Geographic so you know it’s going to be good. This guide features hundreds of stunning photos, full-color maps, expert helpful tips on wildlife spotting in the parks and much, much more of course.
It’s a substantial book at over 520 pages, and this is the 9th edition, which does not yet include the most recent U.S. National Park, New River Gorge in West Virginia.
Check this book’s price on Amazon.
USA National Parks: Lands of Wonder
DK Eyewitness brings you USA National Parks: Lands of Wonder. If you know DK Eyewitness travel books, you know that they’re generally a really nice blend of informative and inspiring, with LOTS of great photos.
Each park profile in this book includes details about the park, what to do there, maps, photos, when to go and more.
Walks of a Lifetime in America’s National Parks: Extraordinary Hikes in Exceptional Places
Hikers, take note! Walks of a Lifetime in America’s National Parks was a 2020 Foreword Indie Book of the Year Winner and features the best hikes in the Parks. Their insights will lead readers to “quintessential scenic vistas, celebrated rivers and lakes, majestic waterfalls, outstanding wildlife viewing areas, significant historic and prehistoric sites” and more.
The authors are Hiking Ambassadors for the American Hiking Society.
100 Parks 5000 ideas
National Geographic’s 100 Parks 5000 Ideas is highly rated for a reason. It’s filled with beautiful National Geographic photos, plus all the information you need to plan a trip that centers around or includes a park visit. Consider it a sequel to the bestselling 50 States 5000 Ideas.
The book features not just National Parks but also the best of state and city parks throughout North America.
National Geographic Secrets of the National Parks, 2nd Edition: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Experiences Beyond the Tourist Trail
Think of this book as your guide to the best hidden gems of America’s National Parks. It includes “secret tips” like where to find the Clingman’s Dome bypass trail (who knew??) at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It includes expert tips from park rangers, park managers, and even locals to help you have the best National Parks trip that you possibly can. If you’re interested in avoiding the biggest tourist crowds at the most popular parks, think about checking this book out.
National Parks books for kids
National Geographic Junior Ranger Activity Book
Especially for young National Parks explorers ages 8 – 12, this activity book is full of puzzles, games, and facts. It’s designed to keep young travelers entertained while they explore.
This is one of the most popular children’s books about US national parks.
National Parks of the USA
This beautiful book is aimed at readers ages 6 through 9 and features 21 National Parks including Acadia, Biscayne, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Denali, Everglades, Glacier, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.
This book was a 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students: K–12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council).
National Parks of the USA: Activity Book
Designed for children ages 7–10, this activity book is a companion to National Parks of the USA (above). It’s full of activities, stickers, puzzles and interesting facts.
It’s perfect for passing the time on a long trip!
Final thoughts on national park books
If you can’t travel to a National Park, then reading about them and looking at beautiful photos of them has to be the next best thing.
With a beautiful book about American national parks, you can visit your favorites over and over again from your very own home.
More articles about national parks
- The best national parks on the East Coast
- Gifts for national parks lovers (for any budget)
- The best national parks in Utah
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