The best books about the Grand Canyon

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to the Grand Canyon, and here are their favorite Grand Canyon books.
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What type of Grand Canyon book?


Sunk Without a Sound

By Brad Dimock,

Book cover of Sunk Without a Sound: The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde

Silvia Pettem Author Of In Search of the Blonde Tigress: The Untold Story of Eleanor Jarman

From the list on mysterious and intriguing women in history.

Who am I?

I've been writing for decades, as one genre evolved into another. Local Colorado history led to the identification of "Boulder Jane Doe," a murder victim. During that journey I learned a lot about criminal investigations and forensics. I devoured old movies (especially film noir), and I focused on social history including mysterious and intriguing women. Midwest Book Review (see author book links) credits In Search of the Blonde Tigress as "rescuing" Eleanor Jarman "from obscurity." So true! Despite Eleanor's notoriety as "the most dangerous woman alive," she actually was a very ordinary woman. I've now found my niche pulling mysterious and intriguing women out of the shadows.

Silvia's book list on mysterious and intriguing women in history

Discover why each book is one of Silvia's favorite books.

Why did Silvia love this book?

In 1928, Bessie Hyde, a newlywed with her husband Glen, hoped to become the first woman to follow the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. But they never made it.

Searchers found the couple's homemade boat near the river's dangerous rapids. Did Bessie and Glen drown, or did they climb the steep canyon walls? Sunk Without a Sound has kept the Hydes' story alive in the hopes that one day their remains will be found and identified. Finding the missing and identifying the unknown have become passions of mine. 

Steel on Stone

By Nathaniel Farrell Brodie,

Book cover of Steel on Stone: Living and Working in the Grand Canyon

Sean Prentiss Author Of Crosscut: Poems

From the list on trail building and traildogs.

Who am I?

In 1997, I was hired by the Northwest Youth Corps as a trail crew leader. That season, and across five more seasons, I built trails across the Pacific Northwest and Desert Southwest, including in many national parks. Since then, I have been in love with backpacking trails (including hiking the Long Trail and Colorado Trail), building trails, and writing about trails (Crosscut: Poems). I now live in Vermont with my wife and daughter. We have a trail we built that weaves through our woods.

Sean's book list on trail building and traildogs

Discover why each book is one of Sean's favorite books.

Why did Sean love this book?

Nathaniel Farrell Brodie’s Steel on Stone takes readers into Grand Canyon National Park. Here, Brodie worked on trails for eight seasons during brutal summer heat and cold winters. Brodie explores not just the national park in its beauty and danger but also the park’s history, tales from the park, and other adventures. In the end, Steel on Stone beautifully ruminates on home and on Brodie’s love of this landscape.

By Nathaniel Farrell Brodie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Steel on Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Grand Canyon National Park has been called many things, but home isn't often one of them. Yet after years of traveling the globe, Nathaniel Brodie found his home there.

Steel on Stone is Brodie's account of living in the canyon during the eight years he worked on a National Park Service trail crew, navigating a vast and unforgiving land. Embedded alongside Brodie and his crew, readers experience precipitous climbs to build trails, dangerous search-and-rescue missions, rockslides, spelunking expeditions, and rafting trips through the canyon on the Colorado River. From Brodie's chronicles of tracking cougars and dodging rampaging pack mules…

Book cover of The Cat Who Came for Christmas

Britt Collins Author Of Strays: The True Story of a Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America

From the list on non-fiction for cat lovers.

Who am I?

I am an international bestselling author of Strays and a London-based journalist for The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, and other publications. I've written about animals, conservation, and volunteered at sanctuaries around the world, from tending big cats and baboons in Namibia to wild mustangs in Nevada—a labour of love that has inspired features for The Guardian, The Independent, and Condé Nast Traveller. I've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for many charities through my investigative animal-cruelty stories; as an activist, I helped shut down controversial breeders of laboratory animals in the UK. I also created Catfestlondon, a sell-out boutique festival that rescues and rehomes Moroccan street kittens in the UK.

Britt's book list on non-fiction for cat lovers

Discover why each book is one of Britt's favorite books.

Why did Britt love this book?

Amory wrote this wildly entertaining read of his rescue of a stray he found sick and starving in a NYC alley on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1977. He named the white cat Polar Bear, a moody curmudgeon with one blue and one gold eye, who became his lifelong companion. The book spent 12 weeks at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list and sold over 10 million copies. Amory was a fierce and famous activist who helped Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society buy a boat to use in his fight against whaling and seal-hunting. In 1980 Amory founded the Black Beauty Ranch in Texas, a refuge for discarded and neglected animals, from cats, dogs, deer, horses to elephants, monkeys, and big cats. That same year, he spent over $500,000 to trap 582 burros and helicopter them out of the Grand Canyon to save these…

By Cleveland Amory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cat Who Came for Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cat charms its way into a curmudgeon's heart one hilarious holiday season in this "extraordinary" bestselling Christmas classic (Parade), the perfect gift for the animal lover in your life.
'Twas the night before Christmas when a bedraggled white feline entered the heart -- and home -- of Cleveland Amory. To say it is a friendly takeover is an understatement. For the cat who came for Christmas is clearly of the Independent Type, and Cleveland Amory, cranky or not, is a pushover where animals are concerned.
Toe to toe they stand -- Amory at six feet three, the cat at…

Grand Canyon

By Jason Chin,

Book cover of Grand Canyon

Brenda Z. Guiberson Author Of Yours 'Til Niagara Falls

From the list on the fascinating and connected layers of world.

Who am I?

As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. A “wow” moment gets me started. It could be a giant cactus that grows so slowly, frogs that don’t ribbet, maybe a moment with a sea turtle, or thoughts on geology and natural wonders. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research but much gets left out. What goes in? The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for this world of constant change and those struggling to survive.

Brenda's book list on the fascinating and connected layers of world

Discover why each book is one of Brenda's favorite books.

Why did Brenda love this book?

This is absolutely the best “wow” book to take an illustrated journey from the bottom to the top of the Grand Canyon carved out over a billion years by erosive running water. The carefully researched illustrations go back and forth in time, as each new level of rock formation reveals past and present climates and habitats. Clues are provided by preserved traces of ancient life such as fossil skeletons, footprints, plants, teeth, and shells. The author/illustrator was “bit by the geology bug” and you will too after following a father and daughter on this hike of discovery.  

By Jason Chin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and more an a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.

Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.

Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts…

The Emerald Mile

By Kevin Fedarko,

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

Becky Lomax Author Of Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 Parks

From the list on US national parks from science to thrillers.

Who am I?

I grew up hiking and camping with my family in the national parks of Washington. Isn’t that what everyone did in summer? Later, I learned how wrong I was. That most people had never seen a glacier, stood on a mountaintop, walked through a rainforest, gazed at the size of a grizzly, skied past erupting geysers, or rafted a rushing river. These experiences have shaped who I am. I return to the haunts of national parks, from deserts to mountains and remote islands, because they wow me and feed my soul. 

Becky's book list on US national parks from science to thrillers

Discover why each book is one of Becky's favorite books.

Why did Becky love this book?

After I backpacked the Inner Canyon and Tonto Trail for 10 days in Grand Canyon, I longed for a book like this: one that would wrap the massive creation of the Grand Canyon into a compelling story and explore the depth of human connection. Fedarko adeptly weaves in history, geology, environmental concerns, wildlife, flora, Indigenous culture, and climate around a thrilling dory adventure on the Colorado River—so much so that you feel you really know the park. To pair reading it with hiking or boating into the inner canyon yields an immersive experience where you can see, touch, and breathe much of what he describes. This book is always my first recommendation for anyone headed to Grand Canyon, and I’ll re-read it again during my next Grand Canyon visit.

By Kevin Fedarko,

Why should I read it?

6 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…

The Anomaly

By Michael Rutger,

Book cover of The Anomaly

Nicholas Holloway Author Of Three Houses on a Hill

From the list on mystery thrillers set in mountainous landscapes.

Who am I?

This topic is very close to my heart, as a lot of my readers know me as “the landscape guy.” My two award-winning mystery thrillers (and the serial killer thriller I'm currently writing) feature chillingly explosive landscapes (the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Gates of the Arctic, and the Rocky Mountains). Readers and reviewers have mentioned time and again how I utilize landscape as a character in its own right, and I have very much been influenced by other authors who do the same. There is so much opportunity in these remote and high-altitude landscapes to propel the dread and isolation for these types of stories.

Nicholas' book list on mystery thrillers set in mountainous landscapes

Discover why each book is one of Nicholas' favorite books.

Why did Nicholas love this book?

This one’s a little bit of a cheat because the Grand Canyon isn’t technically a mountainous landscape—unless you’re looking at it from the bottom. But as far as landscapes go, you can’t do much better. The Anomaly follows an I’ll-do-it-myself archaeologist who discovers an ancient cave that seems to have a mind of its own. More than anything, this book is just downright freakin’ fun. It’s evident that Rutger knows this landscape better than most, and he utilizes both history and conspiracy theories to his advantage. This one’s a true mystery where the setting is a character in itself.

By Michael Rutger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An utterly gripping thriller perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Michael Crichton and Stephen King. The Anomaly will leave you breathless until the final page has been turned . . .


A team of explorers seek ancient treasures, hidden in a secret cave.

At first it seems they will return empty handed. Then their luck turns.

But the team's elation is short-lived as they become trapped there in the dark, with little possibility of escape.

Then events take an even more terrifying turn.

For not all secrets are meant to be found…

Brighty of the Grand Canyon

By Marguerite Henry, Wesley Dennis (illustrator),

Book cover of Brighty of the Grand Canyon

Will Lowrey Author Of Where the Irises Bloom

From the list on animal loyalty.

Who am I?

Issues impacting animals have been a major component of my life for twenty years and have inspired all of my writing. As humans, we are consumed by our own needs and often, animals go unnoticed in the shadows or in some capacity that is of service to us. But animals have stories all their own. Again and again I have encountered these stories, from cows in a slaughterhouse, to fighting dogs rescued from a chain, to primates in laboratories, they each have a meaningful story. The stories that resonate most are the ones in which the animal story intersects that of human character in a deep, and often surprising way. 

Will's book list on animal loyalty

Discover why each book is one of Will's favorite books.

Why did Will love this book?

Probably a lesser-known book, Brighty still packs a powerful emotional punch. Similar to Pax, the book speaks movingly about the power of the wild and the value of allowing animals to exist on their terms. In addition to this less, Brighty also tells of the moving bond between a spitfire donkey and a pair of old men working the Grand Canyon. Although he loses his companion, a prospector named Old Timer, early in the book, Brighty never forgets the man’s kindness. He spends the rest of the book, loyal to another man, Jim, seeking justice for Old Timer’s murder. Throughout the book, Brighty never loses the wild inside him and Marguerite Henry does a masterful job of weaving together the themes of loyalty, purpose, and respect for Brighty’s personal integrity. Although mostly considered a children’s book, Brighty is well-worth the read for any adult looking for a story to…

By Marguerite Henry, Wesley Dennis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A determined little burro earns the loyalty and affection of everyone he encounters in this classic story from Newbery Award-winning author Marguerite Henry.

Long ago, a lone little burro roamed the high cliffs of the Grand Canyon and touched the hearts of all who knew him: a grizzled old miner, a big-game hunter, even President Teddy Roosevelt. Named Brighty by the prospector who befriended him, he remained a free spirit at heart. But when a ruthless claim-jumper murdered the prospector, loyal Brighty risked everything to bring the killer to justice.

Brighty's adventures have delighted generations of readers, and he has…

Grand Obsession

By Elias Butler, Tom Myers,

Book cover of Grand Obsession: Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of the Grand Canyon

Diane Winger Author Of The Long Path Home: Walking the South West Coast Path in Cornwall, England A Novella

From the list on long walking adventures.

Who am I?

I didn’t really take up hiking until I was in my 30s, but outdoor adventures have become a way of life. I love walking along a trail, marveling at my surroundings and wondering what new delight I’ll discover around the next bend or over the next hill. Upon turning 70, I tackled my most challenging walk yet – trekking over 250 miles along the spectacular South West Coast Path in Cornwall, England. I found the immersion in focusing solely on walking each day to be both meditative and uplifting. The books on this list reflect my love for the outdoors, with some inspiring me to try something new, while others I prefer to experience vicariously.

Diane's book list on long walking adventures

Discover why each book is one of Diane's favorite books.

Why did Diane love this book?

I guarantee this amazing history of Butchart will leave you in awe, especially if you have explored a bit of the Grand Canyon as I have or have dreamed of doing so.

Butchart tackled an astonishing number of remote and extreme formations in this remarkable place. Very well-written and meticulously researched.

By Elias Butler, Tom Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of a 2008 National Outdoor Book Award, a 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY), and named a Book of the Year by the Pima County Library, "Grand Obsession" continues to gather recognition for its striking portrayal of a man who felt compelled to do what no one had dared attempt in modern times: explore the deepest, most inhospitable reaches of the Grand Canyon, crown jewel of America's national parks - something which took decades to achieve and exacted a great personal cost.

Writers Elias Butler and Thomas M. Myers (co-author of the book "Over the Edge: Death in Grand…

Ranger Confidential

By Andrea Lankford,

Book cover of Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, And Dying In The National Parks

Andrew Vietze Author Of This Wild Land: Two Decades of Adventure as a Park Ranger in the Shadow of Katahdin

From the list on park rangers and the wild places they protect.

Who am I?

Andrew Vietze was five years old when he told his older sister that one day, he would be a park ranger. Twenty-eight years later, he put on his badge for the first time as a seasonal ranger in one of the premier wilderness areas in the East, Maine’s Baxter State Park. Home of Katahdin and the terminus of the Appalachian Trail, “Forever Wild” Baxter has no pavement, no electricity, no stores, no cell service. As a boy, Vietze imagined a life flying around in helicopters, rescuing hikers off mountaintops, fighting forest fires, chasing wilderness despoilers, and plucking people out of raging rivers. And he's spent the past twenty years doing just that.

Andrew's book list on park rangers and the wild places they protect

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

Andy Lankford reveals the kind of secrets the NPS probably doesn’t want you to know in Ranger Confidential. She worked twelve years as a ranger, and she takes readers behind the scenes at Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Denali. Did you know law enforcement park rangers are 12 times more likely to die on the job than an FBI agent? And that they’re assaulted more than any other federal officers? I didn’t either until I read this captivating book. I also learned that NPS rangers do everything we do at Baxter State Park—rescues, forest firefighting, enforcement, loon identification—just on a larger scale. Already a great work, Ranger Confidential will age into a classic, perhaps the be-all, end-all opus of ranger life. 

By Andrea Lankford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For twelve years, Andrea Lankford lived in the biggest, most impressive national parks in the world, working a job she loved. She chaperoned baby sea turtles on their journey to sea. She pursued bad guys on her galloping patrol horse. She jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the heart of the Grand Canyon. She won arguments with bears. She slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.

Hell yeah, it was the best job in the world! Fortunately, Andrea survived it.

In this graphic and yet surprisingly funny account of her and others' extraordinary careers, Lankford unveils a world in which…

Crimes Against Nature

By Karl Jacoby,

Book cover of Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation

Megan Kate Nelson Author Of Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

From the list on America’s National Parks.

Who am I?

I grew up in Colorado and visited national parks all over the country on summer vacations with my family. Now I write about U.S. Western history while living outside Boston, Massachusetts. My most recent book, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History. I have written about the Civil War and the U.S. West for The New York TimesWashington PostThe Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, and Civil War Monitor. Scribner will publish my next book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, on March 1, 2022. 

Megan's book list on America’s National Parks

Discover why each book is one of Megan's favorite books.

Why did Megan love this book?

Indigenous communities and land dispossession are the subjects of Crimes Against Nature, although Jacoby also brings white transgressors of federal policy into his book about the dark history of the American conservation movement. The rural communities he describes engaged in survival practices that quickly became defined and punished as crimes: hunting, fishing, tree-cutting, and foraging. Jacoby includes eastern parks in his assessment, writing about the Adirondacks before turning to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. At the heart of this beautifully written book is the tension between what constitutes private and public space in American history, and how rural white and Indigenous Americans have often lived in the borderlands between them.

By Karl Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crimes Against Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Crimes against Nature reveals the hidden history behind three of the nation's first parklands: the Adirondacks, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Focusing on conservation's impact on local inhabitants, Karl Jacoby traces the effect of criminalizing such traditional practices as hunting, fishing, foraging, and timber cutting in the newly created parks. Jacoby reassesses the nature of these "crimes" and provides a rich portrait of rural people and their relationship with the natural world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.