Top 10 Novels Set in a National Park

There is nothing like a great novel, especially one set in a National Park. Here is a list of our 10 favorite fiction books set in a unit of the National Park Service System.  Our previous list covered non-fiction books.

  1. Skinny Dip

by Carl Hiaasen (2004)

Everglades National Park

Hiaasen sets all of his funny novels in South Florida (including the wonderful children’s book Hoot).  We have read several, but this is our favorite with swamps, subtropical islands, alligators, and a dive from a cruise boat.

  1. Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Scott O’Dell (1960)

Channel Islands National Park

A Newbery Medal Winner that tells the story of a girl marooned for 18 years in the Channel Islands off California in the 1800s.  Based loosely on a true story.

  1. Winter Study

by Nevada Barr (2008)

Isle Royale National Park

Ranger Anna Pigeon mysteries are a staple in most National Park bookstores.  They are entertaining and we always learn about something new, like wolf research and hypothermia prevention in this one.

  1. River Runs Deep

by Jennifer Bradbury (2015)

Mammoth Cave National Park

Long before it became a National Park, cave tours were led by slaves in Kentucky.  This children’s book also deals with the cave’s brief history as an infirmary for tuberculosis patients.

  1. Misty of Chincoteague

by Marguerite Henry (1947)

Assateague Island National Seashore

A classic about a wild pony that grows up on Assateague and Chincoteague Islands on the Atlantic border of Maryland and Virginia.  She also wrote the excellent Brighty of the Grand Canyon.

  1. One Day on Beetle Rock

by Sally Carrighar (1944)

Sequoia National Park

Humans are not main characters in this imaginative novel that details the happenings in the lives of the many animals inhabiting this California forest.

  1. Song of the Exile

by Kiana Davenport (1999)

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Historical fiction follows the decades of changes experienced by a woman who is exiled to the leper colony on the isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula of Moloka’i Island in Hawai’i.  Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i is a similar book.

  1. Serena

by Ron Rash (2008)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This novel is set in the years prior to the creation of the park when ruthless logging companies rushed to maximize their profits.  Also a feature film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

  1. The Deer Stalker

by Zane Grey (1925)

Grand Canyon National Park

The greatest Western novelist ever turned his attention to a wildlife manager on the North Rim of the canyon in the wake of World War I.  Another of his works set in a National Park is Boulder Dam (Lake Mead National Recreation Area).

…and finally our #1 novel set in a National Park!


  1. The Killer Angels

by Michael Shaara (1974)

Gettysburg National Military Park

Narratives of the momentous events at Gettysburg in July 1863 told from the point-of-view of some of its most prominent players.  Arguably the best work of historical fiction ever written.

Honorable Mention

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

by Tom Robbins (1976)

Badlands National Park

Tom Robbins is hilarious.  His books are character driven (like the unforgettable Sissy Hankshaw with her oversized thumbs) but the South Dakota setting is also important to this book.

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