Before the internet, I almost always bought books when I traveled so I’d have them to refer back to. Whether on a guided tour or exploring on my own, I wanted facts about what I learned and to better understand what I experienced. From twenty-page pamphlets to massive hardback books, I was always loaded down with reference material when I returned home.
As the internet gained strength and eventually provided the information I wanted and needed, I stopped buying this reference material. Until recently. Just like reading a print magazine over its digital cousin, I once again started collecting a few well-chosen travel books.
One book I was especially interested in was National Geographic’s recently released Yellowstone: A Journey through America’s Wild Heart. It seems a lifetime ago that I watched the Old Faithful geyser erupt and observed black bears and their cubs meandering through the woodlands. With all the publicity surrounding the National Park Service’s centennial, I decided to research some of America’s western parks in hopes of returning to relive the pleasure of this nation’s wilderness.
Author David Quammen’s narrative and the fantastic photography captured by eight National Geographic photographers over a two-year period make the book a treasure for travelers who have experienced the park, as well as anyone planning a visit.
There are mountains, forests, and lakes to explore, wildlife — including 67 species of mammals and nearly 300 species of birds — and the volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers. There’s history to discover here; the park’s establishment led the way for a century of conservation “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
In 2015, four million sightseers visited the park. When you read the book and marvel at the exceptional photography, you’ll certainly know why America’s oldest national park is so popular.