The best books for people who love the outdoors and want to learn more

Greg M. Peters Author Of Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands
By Greg M. Peters

Who am I?

I love being outdoors and I’ve been fortunate to spend much of life under the open sky, both professionally and personally. Learning about the landscapes I’ve visited on my outdoor adventures or helped protect through my professional conservation and writing work is both fulfilling and inspiring. Skilled writers deepen my understanding of the diverse, intricate, and complicated natural world. Whether I’m reading to better understand the policies and histories that have shaped our public lands or about the adventurers who inspire me to get out there, I always find immense value and enjoyment when reading about the landscapes we share. 

I wrote...

Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands

By Greg M. Peters,

Book cover of Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands

What is my book about?

From the glaciated peaks of Alaska to the deserts of Arizona, America’s 193 million acres of National Forests are true treasures. Our National Forests: Stories from America’s Most Important Public Lands takes readers on a series of journeys through these often overlooked and misunderstood lands. Packed with gorgeous photography and engaging prose, Our National Forests highlights the people, histories, and policies that make these lands so special. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There

Why did I love this book?

Aldo Leopold was a Forest Service ranger stationed in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest when he first began advocating for a new approach to managing national forests. Leopold’s visionary thinking and diligent advocacy resulted in the first-ever Wilderness Area in the U.S.—the Gila Wilderness Area, established in 1922—more than 40 years before the Wilderness Act was passed by Congress in 1964. A Sand County Almanac is Leopold’s best-known work and follows his efforts to restore a patch of cut-over farmland in Wisconsin while also articulating his vision of a land ethic where humans and nature are intertwined and care for people cannot be separated from care for the land. His beautiful writing resonated strongly with me when I first read A Sand County Almanac more than two decades ago, and his vision remains as important now as ever.

By Aldo Leopold,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Sand County Almanac as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac has enthralled generations of nature lovers and conservationists and is indeed revered by everyone seriously interested in protecting the natural world. Hailed for prose that is "full of beauty and vigor and bite" (The New York Times), it is perhaps the finest example of nature writing since Thoreau's Walden.
Now this classic work is available in a completely redesigned and lavishly illustrated gift edition, featuring over one hundred beautiful full-color pictures by Michael Sewell, one of the country's leading nature photographers. Sewell, whose work has graced the pages of Audubon and Sierra magazines, walked…

Desert Solitaire

By Edward Abbey,

Book cover of Desert Solitaire

Why did I love this book?

I first fell in love with the Utah desert on a spring break camping trip while in college. Of course, we had to visit “the Maze” district of Canyonlands, where we spent a glorious week chasing the ghost of Edward Abbey. Few people have captured the wild spirit of this region as well as Abbey, the curmudgeonly ranger who valued wildness over just about anything else. Desert Solitaire is Abbey’s love story to the canyon country of Utah and a damning indictment of industrial tourism. This book should be on the reading list of anyone who wants to learn more about this special region and one of the most important environmental writers of the 20th century.

By Edward Abbey,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Desert Solitaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'My favourite book about the wilderness' Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

In this shimmering masterpiece of American nature writing, Edward Abbey ventures alone into the canyonlands of Moab, Utah, to work as a seasonal ranger for the United States National Park Service.

Living out of a trailer, Abbey captures in rapt, poetic prose the landscape of the desert; a world of terracotta earth, empty skies, arching rock formations, cliffrose, juniper, pinyon pine and sand sage. His summers become spirit quests, taking him in search of wild horses and Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs, up mountains and across tribal lands, and down the…

Great Plains

By Ian Frazier,

Book cover of Great Plains

Why did I love this book?

If you combined a personal essay with a compelling travelogue and wove in thoroughly researched history, you’d get Ian Frazier’s book The Great Plains. Frazier’s excellent writing immediately pulled me into his rambles across one of the least visited, and least understood, portions of our country. I learned so much about the Great Plains without even trying by simply reading this great book. If you’re already a fan, or if you’ve never really considered the Great Plains, this book will enlighten and inspire you to learn more and maybe even visit this sprawling, and important, American landscape. 

By Ian Frazier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Great Plains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National Bestseller

Most travelers only fly over the Great Plains--but Ian Frazier, ever the intrepid and wide-eyed wanderer, is not your average traveler. A hilarious and fascinating look at the great middle of our nation.

With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull's cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde,…

Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Why did I love this book?

After I graduated from college, I moved to Alaska as an AmeriCorps volunteer teaching adult education classes. Of course, I read every book I could find about Alaska and the arctic, and to this day, Barry Lopez’s classic Arctic Dreams remains one of the best books I’ve ever read. Lopez’s lyrical prose, immersive story-telling, and impeccable research helped me learn as much about the Arctic as I did about the writing craft. Even if you’ll never travel north, this book is simply fantastic. 

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Arctic Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A master nature writer' (New York Times) provides the ultimate natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic landscape.

The author of Horizon's classic work explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.


Lopez's journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory…

Book cover of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

Why did I love this book?

The Emerald Mile is one of my favorite books ever. Author Kevin Fedarko weaves the story of an illicit, record-setting paddle through the Grand Canyon with the history of this incredible, mind-blowing landscape. Fast-paced and compelling, the narrative moves quickly while remaining accessible and informative. I’ve yet to float through the Grand Canyon but reading (and re-reading) The Emerald Mile brings me as close to the real thing as I can get. If you like great adventure stories and want to learn more about this unparalleled landscape, read The Emerald Mile today. 

By Kevin Fedarko,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Emerald Mile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of Outside magazine’s “Literary All-Stars” comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.

In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River confronted a team of engineers at the Glen Canyon Dam with an unprecedented emergency that may have resulted in the most catastrophic dam failure in history. In the midst of this crisis, the decision to launch a small wooden dory named “The Emerald Mile” at the head of the…

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Interested in explorers, the Great Plains, and park rangers?

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