Best Yosemite Books: 25 Books to Read Before Visiting Yosemite National Park

Post Summary: Best Yosemite Books

The splendor of Yosemite inspired generations of naturalists, conservationists, artists, photographers, and the general public.  From the naturalist John Muir to photographer Ansel Adams, the park is iconic in the fight to protect wilderness around the world.  Most visitors to Yosemite spend most of their time in the Yosemite Valley enjoying views of Half Dome and El Captain.  Yosemite National Park is more than a park is a diverse landscape with an immense history. The best way to appreciate Yosemite is to read a couple of books before visiting the park.  Here are the best books to read before visiting Yosemite National Park.

Best of Yosemite National Park in a Nutshell

BOOKS TO READ: Yosemite Books

ONE DAY: One Day in Yosemite

TWO DAYS: Two Days in Yosemite

LODGING: Yosemite Vacation Rentals

NEARBY PARKS: Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley, Pinnacles, and Lassen Volcanic

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A visit to Yosemite is more than a visit to nature. Enhance your visit by doing some reaching before you go.  Here are the BEST Yosemite Books.  Yosemite Hiking Books / best yosemite guide book / books about Yosemite / Yosemite National Park book / book yosemite /

Yosemite National Park Books

Must Read Yosemite Books

The Yosemite by John Muir

The Yosemite is written by the Sierra Club founder John Muir.  John Muir was one of the foremost naturalists who pushed for the protection of Yosemite National Park and  other natural sites.

In The Yosemite, is a verbal tour of Yosemite thru the eyes of Muir.  He shares his perspective and observations of the park before the development of the park.  The book also contains early photographs of the park to help one visible the park without the crowds.

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Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite by Michael P. Ghiglieri

Yosemite National Park isn’t Disneyland.  The park is dangerous, it can and does kill.  Almost every year, a handful of people die in the park. Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite covers all known deaths in the park.  The book is eye-opening toward all the ways you can die.  It shares lessons that can be learned for the deaths like don’t swim in rivers above the waterfalls.  Don’t mess with the wildlife.  The book isn’t’ meant to scare visitors just educated them so the books doesn’t have to share their story.

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Legends of the Yosemite Miwok complied by Frank LaPena

Legends of the Yosemite Miwok is a collection of stories by the Miwok tribes that lived in Yosemite Valley.  These oral stories have been passed down from generation to generation as education as well as entertainment.  LaPena has recorded these stories about Yosemite such as the greed of His’-sik the Skunk and the marital quarrel that created Half Dome and North Dome.  The book has been illustrated by Maidu Indian Harry Fonseca

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Best Yosemite National Park Guide Books

Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon by Moon Guide

Moon Guide provides this comprehensive guide book to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. The guide book covers the best hikes in the parks along with where to stay and planning trips as well the best ways to get between these parks.

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Lonely Planet Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Lonely Planet’s Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks is up-to-date on the lasts goings on in these amazing National Parks. The book features user-friendly highlights and itineraries. Includes 40 full-color trail and park maps.

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Frommer’s Yosemite and Neighboring Parks

Frommer’s Yosemite and Neighboring Parks is a trusted name in travel guides and this book is full of insider tips and tricks for making the most of your time in Yosemite and its neighbor parks. There are detailed write-ups of hotels, campground, and restaurants.

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Hiking Yosemite National Park

Hiking Yosemite National Park covers all of Yosemite’s hiking trails from the short strolls to multi-day backpackiing trips.

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History of Yosemite Books

The Making of Yosemite by Jen A. Huntley

The Making of Yosemite: James Mason Hutchings and the Origin of America’s Most Popular Park tells the store of James Mason Hutchings and his tireless work to turn Yosemite into a tourist attraction. He recognized that the land was special and that people would want to see it. He mass produced lithographs of Yosemite falls and his magazines promoted it as a tourist designation. His later battles over the Yosemite Valley o

wnership make for an interesting history between public land management and land use.

He was self-serving in his interest in the valley but his efforts raised public awareness about the valley and that aided in getting it protected. His story is one of the forgotten history of Yosemite.

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Geological Ramblings in Yosemite by N. King Huber

Geological Ramblings in Yosemite covers the millions of years of geological history that Yosemite reveals.  Written by a geologist with the non-geologist in mind, the book shares the saga of the volcanoes, glaciers, streams, erosion, and rock slides that carved the Yosemite we know today.  The book discusses the history of geology in the park and how our understanding has changed over the years.

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Indian Life of the Yosemite Region: Miwok Material Culture

Indian Life of the Yosemite Region: Miwok Material Culture is a comprehensive book on the life of the Sierra Miwok. This book covers the history and heritage of the people of Yosemite.

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Yosemite National Park and Vicinity

Yosemite National Park is 750,000 acres. Almost all of the 5 million plus visitors to the park each year exclusively visit the Yosemite Valley and associated overlooks. Yosemite National Park and Vicinity examines the history of Yosemite outside of the valley. The book covers the mining and road construction in the Sierras. The history is accompanied by historical photographs such as President Roosevelt being shown Yosemite by John Muir.

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Stories From Yosemite

Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya

Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya is about the clash of cultures after the discovery of gold in California. Chief Tenaya is forced into a war to protect his homeland and people from the coming wave. Chief Tenaya and the Ahwahneechee’s

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The Dawn of the World: Myths and Tales of the Miwok Indians of California

The Dawn of the World: Myths and Tales of the Miwok Indians of California is the collected tales of the Miwok people. Their stories are oral traditions that have been handed down and explained the Miwok world. These stories were recorded by C. Hart Merriam and include the Miwok creation legends.

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On the Nose by Hans Florine

Climbing in Yosemite is career goal of many rock climbers. The Nose route of El Capitan is considered to be the Mount Everest of rock climbing.  On the Nose: A Lifelong Obsession with Yosemite’s Most Iconic Climb is a memoir by famed climber Hans Florine.  Florine holds the speed record for climbing the nose route.   Florine shares his climbing triumphs and his defeats.  He share how and why he pushed his limits.  

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Big Walls, Swift Waters by Charles R. “Butch” Farabee

Big Walls, Swift Waters: Epic Stories from Yosemite Search and Rescue shares the stories of the elite women and men of the Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR). This small highly trained group is ready for when a visit to Yellowstone takes a turn or the worst. They are always ready to provide assistance to park visitors in trouble. YOSAR member Butch Farabee shares stories from carrying out a injured hiker on Mist Trail to unbelievable rescues on El Captain. YOSAR has had to pioneer rescue techniques and are always ready for action.

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Valley Walls by Glen Denny

Climbing wasn’t always a prevalent activity in Yosemite. It was a small group of young men who decided to challenge themselves. They started climbing and pioneered many routes and modernized climbing in the United States. Valley Walls: A Memoir of Climbing and Living in Yosemite was written by climber and photographer Glen Denny. He describes many of the early climbs and impressive feats of the early Yosemite climbers.

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Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing

For the first hundred years of modern climbing in Yosemite, men dominated the walls (and even to this day, women are still the minority in the conversation). Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing is the story of female climbing in Yosemite. This book included contributions from notable Yosemite climbers such as Lynn Hill who is the first woman to free ascent El Capitan, Steph Davis who is the first woman to free climb the Salathé Wall, and Beth Rodden who made the first ascent of Meltdown (one of the hardest traditional climbs in the world).

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Born In Yosemite by Peter T. Hoss

Peter Hoss was born to parents working in Yosemite. He spent his entire life working in Yosemite.  Born In Yosemite: 75 Years of Personal Observation is his story and observation.  He has watched the park and the conservation efforts over those years.  He shares his thoughts on how to protect Yosemite for the next generations.

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Yosemite Books for Kids

Two Bear Cubs: A Miwok Legend from California’s Yosemite Valley

Two Bear Cubs: A Miwok Legend from California’s Yosemite Valley is an engaging retelling of the Southern Sierra Miwok legend on how El Capitan was formed. Mother Grizzly Bear thinks that her two playful cubs are wrestling and having fun along the Merced River while she is checking her fish traps. When she returns to join her sons, however, she discovers the cubs are nowhere to be found. It takes an unlikely hero to bring her cubs safely home.

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Yosemite Maasai: A Biography of an Unexpected Life

Olotumi Laizer is the first-born son of the Maasai village chief. Over the course of his life, this Maasai warrior will travel from Tanzania to Yosemite and back as he is exposed to the outside world and navigates family drama. Yosemite Maasai: A Biography of an Unexpected Life is Olotumi’s story.

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Yosemite National Park (Rookie National Parks)

Yosemite National Park (Rookie National Parks) is where you will meet Ranger Rick as he gives an insightful and fun tour of Yosemite National Park geared to kids ages 6-7.

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The Very Quiet Village: A Tale of Yosemite

The Very Quiet Village: A Tale of Yosemite is the story of Woni. Woni lives in a village in Yosemite National Park. The Yosemite Valley makes Woni want to sing but wandering bears and cougars have scared his village into being quiet. Can Woni find a balance?

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Good Night Yosemite

Good Night Yosemite highlights the Half Dome, Vernal Fall, El Capitan, Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, Indian Rock, giant sequoia, black bears, mule deer, mountain lions, wildflowers, park rangers, fishing, camping, hiking, and more. Young explorers are treated to an enchanting tour of one of the greatest parks and most scenic parks on earth. Children who know the park are sure to recognize their favorite sights, attractions, and wildlife.

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Little Explorers Winter Adventure in Yosemite

Little Explorers Winter Adventure in Yosemite is a winter adventure in Yosemite. Come along as a group of siblings go on toboggan runs, ranger-led snowshoe hikes, building a snowman, and a visit to the natural history museum.

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Yosemite Trail Discovered

Yosemite Trail Discovered is the adventures of Daniel Whitcomb as he builds a life in the goldfields of California. Daniel balances a war, friendship and developing a relationship with Virginia Reed, one of the survivors of the Donner Party.

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Final Thoughts on the Best Yosemite Books

What are your favorite books about Yosemite National Park, let us know in the comments below. If you need help planning your National Park trips join me in my National Park Trip Planning Community!

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A visit to Yosemite is more than a visit to nature. Enhance your visit by doing some reaching before you go.  Here are the BEST Yosemite Books.  Yosemite Hiking Books / best yosemite guide book / books about Yosemite / Yosemite National Park book / book yosemite /


  • Wendy

    We’re hoping to visit Yosemite in 2019. I will read some of your book suggestions. I bookmarked your post. I am going to have a hard time choosing which ones to read. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • noel

    I’ve only read one and need to read more of these since I’ve visited Yosemite more than 5 times and love going back through different seasons. Thanks for compiling this list of must reads!

    • jennifermelroy

      I am the same. I love exploring Yosemite during the different season plus less people during the winter.

  • Punita Malhotra

    Wow! There are 10 books on Yosemite? I had no idea. National Parks of USA are really inspiring and I hope I get to see a few soon. I haven’t even got started on that continent.

    • jennifermelroy

      There are a lot more than 10 books on Yosemite. There are hundreds of books on the park. These are just my favorite 10.

  • Marvi

    I love reading and this are just amazing books to read! Personally, I’ll be looking for copies of the Legends of the Yosemite Miwok and Death in Yosemite. Would be interesting to learn of the legends surrounding this famous National Park and to learn a thing or two about staying safe here.

    • jennifermelroy

      I loved reading Legends. It was an amazing look at the people who lived there for generations.

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    These books seem to cover the various aspects of the wild beauty of Yosemite National Park. I have not read any of them but would love to read The Yosemite by John Muir, as it seems to give a total perspective of the Park even before its inception. The other book which I feel is a must-read for anyone before venturing into the park is the Death in Yosemite.

    • jennifermelroy

      I tried to show all aspects of Yosemite no just the pretty pictures everyone knows.

  • Catherine Salvador Mendoza

    This book first listed – The Yosemite by John Muir – sounds very appealing to a reader like me. Sometimes I wonder how things/ environment look like when there were so less and no technology and stuff like that. Yosemite park is very famous that everyone wants to see including me. I wish to see this in one of our travels! And probably could read this book to get more knowledge of how Yosemite started!

  • Kirstie Saldo

    Sounds like awesome books! I especially would like to read the whole of The Making of Yosemite. I love reading about the history of different places, as the history makes it all the more interesting! Thanks for this list!

    • jennifermelroy

      I love exploring the histories of the parks. The fight to create all of them is very unique.

  • Ami Bhat

    It is nice to see that one place has so much literature to offer. It always makes a place interesting when you read some story about it. Like how Dan Brown added intrigue to the Louvre and the Vatican. I guess, I might just pick on the deaths in Yosemite – just for that dramatic touch.

    • jennifermelroy

      These are just a few of the many book on the park. There is a whole series of the death in national parks. I love the one on Yellowstone as well.

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