Recommended Books


Below, is a compilation of recommended books that we have read over the years. The books are about topics ranging from history and different cultures to the outdoors and environmental concerns. Next to each book, you will find our personal review and/or a brief synopsis. The purpose of adding the Book tab to the Paddle & Trails website is to bring awareness of these topics and to offer insight into books that may spark someone’s interest. If you click on the book cover or the title, it will then take you directly to Amazon. 

Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition

(Stella’s Read) Currently Reading…

Custer State Park: Images of America

(Stella’s Read) I purchased this book while visiting the park, which possesses such a unique beauty! This book provides details about the formation of the park, along with a plethora of pictures. Please note, it does not have pages of text to read. Instead, it is comprised of pictures with excerpts describing the photos.

Recommended Reads ~ The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone's Underdog
The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog

(Larry’s Read) Rick McIntyre’s first book in the series, Alpha Males of the Yellowstone, is nothing short of fascinating. Starting from the introduction of the wolves into the Yellowstone ecosystem to his transition to a full-time ranger in YNP. Rick is able to articulate the movement and ongoings of each pack in precise detail. If you are looking to immerse yourself in the wolves of Yellowstone National Park then I would say this is a great book to start that journey.

Dragons in the Snow: Avalanche Detectives and the Race to Beat Death in the Mountains

(Larry’s Read) Since moving to Colorado and exploring the mountain west I have become fascinated with avalanches. Attempting to understand them, what triggers them and why we, as humans, put ourselves in harm’s way. Dragons in the Snow takes us to a moment in time, February 2017, in the Uinta Range located in Utah, and walks through the events that unfolded that day as 9 souls ventured into the backcountry for a day of adventure. While at the same time, weather and avalanche forecasters were tracking a significant winter storm barreling into Utah. The book details the decisions that unfolded as the day progressed, which changed the lives of all involved.

Recommended Reads ~ Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks
Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks

(Larry’s Read) In my next life, I would like to be a Park Ranger. An immersive look into the life of a ranger. Andrea Lankford outlines her 12 years as a ranger for the National Park System. From her start at Cape Hatteras National Seashore to her last post at Grand Canyon National Park. Andrea takes you on a journey of the trial and tribulations of becoming and what it means to be a park ranger.

Jenny of the Tetons

(Stella’s Read) The story is very interesting, as it is based upon real people and events, yet is still classified as a ‘historical fiction’ novel. It walks readers through the historical interactions between the settlers and the Native American Indians in the Montana and Wyoming areas. Throughout the story, the main character, Jenny, obtains a unique perspective of the indigenous people’s lives since the man that her family sent her to live with is married to a Shoshoni woman. 

Forewarning, the instances of animal cruelty and callous regard of animals mentioned throughout the story are disturbing. While I understand that life was very different back then, I still do not care to read about such things. Sadly, a few of these instances still remain in my memory. 

Recommended Reads ~ Indian Spirits
Indian Spirit

(Stella’s Read) As I continue on my journey through life, I like to keep an open mind about different religious perspectives and practices. I grew up being told that there is only one correct, absolute religious path to follow. But the more that I question such things, I am no longer able to believe that. It has been my experience that when one believes that their religious perspective is the only correct one, that facilitates a tendency to judge and criticize others who possess different views. History is chalked full of religious persecution, all in the “name of God.” The Crusades and the “Americanizing” of Native American are the two that are at the forefront of my mind. The movie “1883” has a great depiction of this and it is truly heartbreaking.

This book is a compilation of poems, stories and pictures that provide insight into different Native American Indian tribes’ cultural and religious beliefs. What I enjoyed the most about this book is the people’s pure appreciation for nature – something that extends beyond any degree that non-indigenous people can truly understand. To them, nature is their religion. And, they appear closer to “God” than any person that I have ever come across in my walk through life thus far.

Recommended Reads ~ Green Fire: Stories From The Wild
Green Fire: Stories from the Wild 

(Stella’s Read) It is difficult to put into words the strong feelings that I had while reading this book, as it incited a degree of disgust, shock, sadness, and rage toward the human race that is indescribable…much the way I feel about the horrific practice of animal testing. I was tempted to not finish the final chapter about the wolves, already knowing the sad fate they had suffered, and the unfair discrimination that they still incur. However, I am glad that I powered through it because I appreciated how the first section was written from the wolf’s perspective. Doing so sheds a unique light on their history and perspective(s). 

Green Fire details the history and near extinction of many of the great North American animals that inhabited the country prior to the settlers. It is a sad world where people kill and/or deliberately torture any living creature merely to satisfy a sick, innate blood lust and/or a political agenda. I routinely tell myself, “this world is not my home” for this reason. My mom would always tell me that these animals were here long before humans. This is their land and we have taken it away from them, just like the Native American Indians. 

This book should be a mandatory part of every high school curriculum. Perhaps then, through widespread education, can future generations fully grasp the depth of the real history of the shaping of the United States. It first began with the removal of the indigenous wild animals and people. And hopefully, it would impress upon them the notion of how populating the country completely changed the land from how it was designed to be by the Creator: Wild.

This book also impresses upon its readers the notion of how progress is actually regression. Specifically, regarding wild animals, this could not be truer. I have to wonder about what life would be like today if our ancestors had found a way to coexist with animals and the Native American Indians. I imagine a place pure and beautiful.

Pure Land: A True Story of Three Lives, Three Cultures and the Search for Heaven on Earth

(Larry’s Read) A tragic story involving a Japanese tourist, Tomomi, traveling the western states when she was killed on her birthday while hiking to Havasu Falls. Annette McGivney weaves the story of all involved on that fateful day.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

(Larry’s Read) This book is about hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) on a ‘through hike.’ David details his journey from start to finish with such intricacy that you are able to visualize each step he takes from Georgia to Maine. A great read or a perfect resource for those looking to traverse the AT.

180° South: Conquerors of the Useless

(Larry’s Read) Most of us are familiar with Patagonia and the North Face brands. But before they became household names, Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins set off on the journey of a lifetime, driving from California to Patagonia. Their goal was to establish a new hiking route on Cerro Fitz Roy, a mountain in Patagonia. Chris Malloy’s book/film is a modern-day re-creation of their original journey.

Recommended Reads ~ American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West

(Larry’s Read) I was hard-pressed to put this book down once I had begun reading it. Nate Blakeslee takes you on a journey of one of the most famous alpha female wolves inside Yellowstone National Park. Her designation is 0-Six (aka 832F), the moniker given to her in the year she was born. The book details the challenges that she faced from her birth until her death in 2012. You are immersed in her life, from her survival to the hostilities that she faced outside of the park.

Limits of the Known

(Larry’s Read) I found this to be an interesting read. The book attempts to sort out the conundrum of humans putting their lives at risk in the pursuit of adventure. David also intertwines his own experiences.

Desert Solitaire

(Larry’s Read) Who wouldn’t want to have been Edward Abbey? The book details his life as a park ranger in Arches National Park. When he first started working there, the area was still classified as a national monument. You tag along with Edward from his mundane early days as a ranger to his more critical thinking about the environment.

Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West

(Larry’s Read) Take a journey with Heather down the Green River to its confluence with the Colorado River inside Canyonlands National Park. She walks through challenges facing the Green River, from overuse to the impact that the climate has had on the river system.

Rising: Becoming the First North American Woman on Everest

(Larry’s Read) Stories about climbing Mount Everest have always intrigued me. This book stands out as Sharon starts her Himalayan adventure seeking to become the first North American woman on the mountain.

Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest’s Deadliest Day

(Larry’s Read) April 25, 2015 turned into one of the deadliest days on Mount Everest as an earthquake shook loose tons of snow and ice. Setting events in motion for one the Everest’s elite guides Dave Hahn in a race to save his team and other caught in the events of the day.

Recommended Reads ~ Smokejumper: A Memoir by One of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters
Smokejumper: A Memoir by One of America’s Most Select Airborne Firefighters

(Larry’s Read) For those who do not live in the western states, you would not be familiar with our fifth season, commonly referred to as “Fire Season.” Jason takes you on his journey to becoming a smoke jumper fighting the wildfires across the west. You learn of his harrowing experiences fighting fires, to discussions around forestry management and the impact of climate change on our forests.

My Pioneer Life – The Memoirs of an Estes Park Frontiersman

(Stella’s Read) This book is an informative read if one is interested in learning about what pioneer life was like. This book focuses on settling in Estes Park, Colorado. At times, it was very hard to follow, chronologically, but that issue was already prefaced at the start of the book. The one thing that I really struggled with, however, was Mr. Sprague’s attitude toward and treatment of animals throughout the book. The second to last chapter (about dogs) bothered me to the degree that I was unable to continue reading the remains of that chapter.

Note: We may earn a small commission from Amazon if you were to purchase the Kindle/Paperback/Hardcover of the books we have recommended.

3 thoughts on “Recommended Books

  1. Coyote America by Dan Flores…All The Wild That Remains by David Gessner…Imperfect Union by Steve Inskeep…Deep Creek by Pam Houston…Short Night of the Shadow Dancer by Timothy Egan…Desert Cabal by Amy Irvine.

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