The best books about national park adventures and misadventures

Who am I?

I am endlessly inspired by the beauty and majesty of our national parks. As a former seasonal ranger at Mount Rainier National Park and Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park, I was frequently surprised by the incredible scrapes that visitors could get themselves into. Of course, I wasn’t immune, and I experienced a few misadventures of my own. These books are great reminders to always respect your limits and be aware of your surroundings. Since I now write novels set in our national parks, I enjoy reading some of these real adventures—it provides great fodder for the imagination. 


I wrote...

Ever Faithful

By Karen Barnett,

Book cover of Ever Faithful

What is my book about?

A man who can't read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps. Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger's daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. When she discovers Nate's secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park

Karen Barnett Why did I love this book?

I listened to the audiobook of Death in Yellowstone as I was traveling to the park to do research for my novel. The author’s gripping descriptions of every fatality in the park opened my eyes to the potential dangers and adventures to be had in this wild place. I was a little spooked, to tell you the truth, but my respect for the power and grandeur of Yellowstone’s features and wildlife increased dramatically.

By Lee H. Whittlesey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death in Yellowstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chilling tome that launched an entire genre of books about the often gruesome but always tragic ways people have died in our national parks, this updated edition of the classic includes calamities in Yellowstone from the past sixteen years, including the infamous grizzly bear attacks in the summer of 2011 as well as a fatal hot springs accident in 2000. In these accounts, written with sensitivity as cautionary tales about what to do and what not to do in one of our wildest national parks, Whittlesey recounts deaths ranging from tragedy to folly—from being caught in a freak avalanche…


Book cover of Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Karen Barnett Why did I love this book?

David Brill is a wonderful storyteller. He spins each true account of Smoky Mountain mishaps into a spellbinding tale. Written with great sensitivity toward the families involved, the author carefully analyzes the choices that led visitors to walk (or drive, swim, etc) into disaster. Unlike some of the “Death in ___” books, Into the Mist provides sound learning opportunities on how to avoid similar mistakes. Each chapter is a complete story and describes either a fatality or a heroic rescue.

By David Brill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Mist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

These beautiful mist-shrouded mountains can, and often do, turn deadly… Volume I of Into the Mist depicts men and women in extreme situations, struggling to survive against brutal and often deadly adversity. Through the book’s 13 chapters, Into the Mist readers will: -Piece together the events leading to a tragic encounter between an elementary school teacher and two black bears in the park’s backcountry. -Share in the heroic response of the park’s rangers in the face of brutal weather events, including the March 1993 “Storm of the Century,” and their successful efforts to rescue hundreds of stranded visitors and ultimately…


Book cover of Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite

Karen Barnett Why did I love this book?

This book is an incredibly detailed look at the many fatalities that have occurred throughout history at Yosemite National Park. Organized into categories and then covered chronologically, you’ll be stunned by the kinds of trouble people can get themselves into. The book can get a little overwhelming at points, but the authors do a good job of keeping the stories moving. It is a good overview of the history of the park and our interactions with it. I’d also say it’s an effective warning to watch your step so you don’t become an entry in future editions. 

By Michael P. Ghiglieri, Charles R. Farabee, Jim Myers (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Off the Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gripping accounts of all known fatal mishaps in America's first protected land of scenic wonders.


Book cover of The Challenge of Rainier, 40th Anniversary: A Record of the Explorations and Ascents, Triumphs and Tragedies on the Northwest's Greatest Mountain (-40th A

Karen Barnett Why did I love this book?

I’m not a climber, but I thoroughly enjoyed this classic book about mountaineering at Mount Rainier National Park. The author covers it all—geology, weather, routes, equipment, accidents, rescues, and guides. As a history geek, I appreciated the detailed descriptions of some of the earliest climbs, including ones before 1900. The book was originally released in 1971, but the newest edition includes updated information. 

By Dee Molenaar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Challenge of Rainier, 40th Anniversary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Featuring 125 photos, 90 illustrations, and 15 maps
* Original cover art by Dee Molenaar

Originally published in 1971, The Challenge of Rainier is a classic in mountaineering reference and literature, long considered the definitive work on the climbing history of Mount Rainier.

Author Dee Molenaar covers geology, glaciology, and climate; early climbs dating before 1900; the pioneering efforts on over 35 routes in winter and summer; notable summit climbs; mountain tragedies on the steep slopes; and the guides who have led summit seekers over the years. For the 40th anniversary edition new information includes more recent ascents, rescues,…


Book cover of Bear in the Back Seat

Karen Barnett Why did I love this book?

If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted book about the national parks, Bear in the Backseat is an entertaining look at the experiences of a wildlife ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It contains a variety of humorous anecdotes mixed with more sobering tales. This book will open your eyes to the difficulty in managing both wildlife and park visitors. It contains a variety of humorous anecdotes mixed with more sobering tales.

By Kim DeLozier, Carolyn Jourdan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bear in the Back Seat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#7 in the USA audio book in 2016#9 in the USA Wall Street Journal best seller in 2013Named A Top 50 Must Read for the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.Named A Top 10 Must-Read Books That Could Save Our National Parks and the Environment along with John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Lewis & Clark, Bill Bryson, and Ken Burns.
Bear in the Back Seat I is the first volume in a series of true stories from “[a]n extraordinary landscape populated with befuddled bears, hormonally-crazed elk, homicidal wild boars, hopelessly timid wolves, and nine million tourists, some of whom…


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Fourth and Long

By Britt Belle,

Book cover of Fourth and Long

Britt Belle Author Of The Earl Was Wrong

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Romance reader Romance writer Sports lover

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What is my book about?

Fourth and Long is a novel written in the first person with dual POVs.

Ellie: When I meet Slater, an infamous quarterback trying to salvage his career, I know better than to form expectations. Our relationship starts out casual, but I can’t help falling for him. The problem is, that he’s leaving as soon as he signs with a new team, and I have no choice but to let him go.

Slater: I can’t risk distractions, so when I hook up with Ellie, I tell myself she’s nothing but a pretty girl. We keep it casual because as soon as the ink is dry on my new contract, I’ll be hundreds of miles away. She follows my rules and lets me go without a fight, but even though football consumes me, I can’t forget her.

Fourth and Long

By Britt Belle,

What is this book about?

Ellie
My professional life is a failure—I’ve convinced more couples to divorce than to work on their marriages. My personal life is a mess—my mother wants my attention, but not my advice, my father is pushing me to bond with his second family, and my sister, who likes to meddle in my love life, thinks I need to get laid.

When I meet Slater, an infamous quarterback trying to salvage his career, I know better than to form expectations. Our relationship starts out casual, but as our lives become more intertwined, I can’t help falling for him. Problem is, he’s…


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