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10 Books to Read Before Visiting Yosemite National Park

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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 a 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 10 books to read before visiting Yosemite National Park.

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Yosemite National Park Reading List

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.

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.

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.

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 illistrated by Maidu Indian Harry Fonseca.

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.

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 share 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.

Yosemite National Park and Vicinity

By Leroy Radanovich

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.

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.

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 Everast of rock climbing.  On the Nose: A Lifelong Obsession with Yosemite’s Most Iconic Climb is 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.  

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.

What books about Yosemite did we miss with out 10 Books to Read Before Visiting Yosemite National Park?

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Ami Bhat

Thursday 21st of June 2018

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.


Saturday 23rd of June 2018

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.

Kirstie Saldo

Wednesday 20th of June 2018

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!


Saturday 23rd of June 2018

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

Catherine Salvador Mendoza

Tuesday 19th of June 2018

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!


Saturday 23rd of June 2018

I would read all of John Muir's books. He is an epic american author.

Sandy N Vyjay

Tuesday 19th of June 2018

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.


Saturday 23rd of June 2018

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


Tuesday 19th of June 2018

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.


Saturday 23rd of June 2018

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

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