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.

Zion national park

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National parks books featuring beautiful photography

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

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.

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

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.

Buy on Amazon.

National Geographic The National Parks: An Illustrated History

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.

Buy on Amazon.

National Geographic: Atlas of the National Parks 

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.

Buy on Amazon.

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National Parks books featuring artwork

The Art of the National Parks

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.

Buy on Amazon.

Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors

Subpar Parks

I dare you to read this without laughing out loud.

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.

Buy on Amazon.

Informative National Park Guides

National Geographic Complete National Parks of the United States 

Complete National Parks

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.

Buy on Amazon.

Fodor’s The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA

Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks

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.

Buy on Amazon.

Rand McNally 2022 Road Atlas & National Park Guide

Rand McNally 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!).

Buy on Amazon.

National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States

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 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

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. 

Buy on Amazon.

Walks of a Lifetime in America’s National Parks: Extraordinary Hikes in Exceptional Places

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. 

Buy on Amazon.

100 Parks 5000 ideas

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.

Buy on Amazon.

National Geographic Secrets of the National Parks, 2nd Edition: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Experiences Beyond the Tourist Trail

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.

Buy on Amazon.

National Parks books for kids

National Geographic Junior Ranger Activity Book 

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.

Buy on Amazon.

National Parks of the USA

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).

Buy on Amazon.

National Parks of the USA: Activity Book

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! 

Buy on Amazon.

Final thoughts on national parks 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. 

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The best national parks books

The Best National Parks Books 

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