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Top 5 Books to Read Before Your Yosemite Visit!


Become a Yosemite Buff with these Informative Reads!

By: Otto Ross

While Yosemite’s natural splendor and waterfalls will keep you enthralled during your visit, reading some of the great works written about the park will give your trip a whole new depth and perspective. Yosemite Falls is all the more amazing when you’ve read Muir’s account of crawling behind it, or the Native American legends about what lurks in the pools below or climbers’ ill fated attempts to scale routes near the falls. Reading these 5 books before (or during) your Yosemite visit will shine even more light on your tour of John Muir’s treasured “Range of Light.”

If you’re not a reader or you want all of this information conveyed to you in the form of a friendly and professional personal Yosemite guide, check out our Lasting Adventures Yosemite Day Hikes and Backpacking Trips –the #1 rated guide company in Yosemite!

1. The Yosemite by John Muir

Written by famed Yosemite Naturalist and Sierra Club Founder, John Muir, the Yosemite describes his introduction to and residence in Yosemite over the course of 10 years. Written in his typical reverent, almost religious manner, John Muir paints beautiful portraits of all the plants, animal and landscapes he encounters one word at a time. Scattered throughout his passionate nature revels are accounts of the wild adventures that broke up his time spent in quiet observation.

This book allows readers to view Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas in all of their radiance and glory through the eyes of one of their most devout protectors and patrons. Muir’s descriptions of crystal, clear high alpine lakes and lush, green meadows will transport you from wherever you’re sitting, directly to the heart of his beloved Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

2. The Wild Muir by Lee Stetson

For readers wanting to cut down on a bit of Muir’s beautiful, yet verbose nature descriptions, or for younger readers, the Wild Muir is a raucous compilation of all of the most exciting, adventurous excerpts pulled from Muir’s writings. The book includes such high adventure hijinks as John Muir’s climb up a giant tree in the middle of storm to better understand how it felt or his “interview” with a black bear or the time he rode an avalanche from the top of a cliff to the bottom.

The Wild Muir will have you on the edge of your seat and your palms sweating as you read about all about the Scottish adventurer’s daring escapades in Yosemite and beyond.

3. The Yosemite Grant by Hank Johnston

For the history buff wanting to learn more about Yosemite, look no further than the Yosemite Grant. In many circles this book is considered the Bible of Yosemite History beginning with the first Native Americans that inhabited Yosemite Valley continuing through the European settlement. There are few books as comprehensive in their scope as the Yosemite Grant. Johnston does a fantastic job sourcing his facts and claims with continual references to appendices where he explains where he obtained important or potentially controversial statements. In this way, he assures absolute transparency allowing a greater depth of knowledge and/or further investigation.

4. Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Charles R. Farabee

As morbid as the subject matter it contains, Death in Yosemite is a compelling look at many of the deaths that have occurred in Yosemite and many of the foolhardy or unwise decisions that led to to the victims’ demise. Along with a list of fatalities categorized by means of death, the book often includes bits of historical perspective and interesting information concerning Yosemite Search and Rescue and how rescues are conducted within the park.

This book serves as a cautionary reminder of the power of nature our obligation and duty to respect our own limits.

5. Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, The (California Academy of Sciences)

Laws Field Guide is an incredible source of virtually every living plant and creature in the Sierra Nevada. There doesn’t seem to be a mushroom, moss or insect living in the Sierras that is not beautifully drawn and identified in this book. Entries also include interesting information like what elevations the plant or animal is typically found as well as blooming seasons of flowers. There is something gratifying about spotting a particularly interesting flower or spider and being able to immediately identify it and learn a little more about it. Plant and animal identification is also a great activity for kids while hiking around the park!

– Happy Reading Everyone –

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