Tag Archives: Books

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 Molokai Island in Hawaii.

  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!

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  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.

Top 10 Non-Fiction Books Set in a National Park

The only thing that is nearly as fun as being in a National Park is reading about one. Here is a list of our 10 favorite non-fiction books set specifically in one unit of the National Park Service System. Our next list will include those that cover multiple parks.

  1. Lost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone National Park

by Tim Cahill (2004)

Yellowstone National Park

There are many great books written about this oldest of all National Parks (including the bestselling Death in Yellowstone), but none is as funny as the one written by this globetrotting travel writer.

  1. A Naturalist in Alaska

by Adolph Murie (1961)

Denali National Park

Wildlife biologist Adolph Murie was invited to Alaska by the National Park Service in 1939-40 to study the diverse species inhabiting Mt. McKinley National Park (as it was known at the time).

  1. The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

by Rinker Buck (2015)

Oregon National Historical Trail

Two mules pulled a wagon with two brothers across the modern American West to Oregon: hilarity ensued and history relived.

  1. The Last Season

by Eric Blehm (2006)

Kings Canyon National Park

A well-researched investigation into the disappearance of a National Park Ranger in the rugged backcountry of California’s Sierra Nevadas.

  1. The Everglades: River of Grass

by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1947)

Everglades National Park

Unfortunately, her name may be more known as a high school today, but this woman’s efforts helped to protect this park from South Florida developers.

  1. The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

by Richard Preston (2007)

Redwood National Park

Whoever said scientists can’t have any fun conducting research needs to read this exciting book about the ecologists that climb 300 feet up redwood trees in California.

  1. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

by Edward Abbey (1968)

Arches National Park

Many National Park Rangers have written memoirs, but this is by far the best one. Written about a time before the red rock wonderland around Moab, Utah became the zoo it is today.

  1. One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey

by Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke (1973)

Lake Clark National Park

The journal of Richard Proenneke who homesteaded a remote part of the Alaska Peninsula before Lake Clark National Park and Preserve was created around it in 1980. There is also an excellent documentary of the same title.

  1. The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

by Kevin Fedarko (2013)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

An epic combination of history and biography about the men and women who run the Colorado River through Arizona’s Grand Canyon.

…and finally our number one Non-Fiction Book Set in a National Park:

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  1. The Jewel Cave Adventure: Fifty Miles of Discovery in South Dakota

by Herb and Jan Conn (1977)

Jewel Cave National Monument

The last frontier may well be beneath our feet. This true adventure of cave exploration is written in a very matter-of-fact way, yet is still a page turner.

Honorable Mention

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

by Bill Bryson (1998)

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail is counted as one of the 417 units in the National Park Service System, and this is the funniest book ever written about backpacking it (or part of it).