Catherine Parker


Get your kids excited about exploring and learning about the National Parks. Buy a book before a trip to learn more about your destination, grab a book to document your trip or after your trip to learn more. Here’s several books for kids about the U.S. National Parks.

Lonely Planet Kids: America’s National Parks

In a guide with charming illustrations, kids can explore a big book of national parks. Starts with nifty things to know about visiting National Parks, then learn about the parks in ABC order. So this is a great reference guide for kids. Or get them excited about a national parks road trip.

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The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and our National Parks by Barb Rosenstock 

A  camping trip in Yosemite with President Theodore Roosevelt and the naturalist John Muir changed the course of the National Parks of the U.S.  Learn about the pivotal characters along with the camping trip.

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John Muir: America’s First Environmentalist

A great read-aloud book to learn more about conservation and the Father of the National Parks.

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Who Pooped in the Park? Yellowstone National Park: Scat and Tracks for Kids

Don’t underestimate the power of poop. Kids dig it. Find 16 books, each from a different park. That’s a lot of pop and they’re a hit with kids in lower grades.

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National Parks of the U.S.A. by Kate Siber 

A charmingly illustrated book covering 21 of the national parks. Kids learn about the plants and animals unique to parks across the U.S.

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How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark

Kids engage with the historical characters so learn about the legendary duo that trekked from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. There are several national park sites dedicated to Lewis and Clark sprinkled across the U.S.

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Seek and Find National Parks by Jorrien Peterson

Can’t tell you what I love  better–mazes or the national parks. If you are or know a maze kid, here’s the book. Learn about the uniqueness of the U.S. and Canadian national parks, from Branff to Crater Lake to the U.S. Virgin Islands to Yellowstone.  Work the maze and get to know the park. This book even includes a glossary.

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If you enjoy exploring the National Parks, then read a book about or set in the U.S. National Parks. Find books on National Park history, travelogues and guide books for your next trip. Here’s 9 books about the National Parks.

Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith

A pair of young retirees, Karen and Matt Smith, take off and hit the road to see all the national parks. In a series of emails to Bob and Sue, the friends they left back home, get a park-by-park account.

A must for anyone gearing up to explore the U.S. with their spouse in tow. Get truthful accounts of the popular tours and trails. And find tips for sneaking beer into lodges along with the best pizza joints near the parks in this humorous read.

And the near plane crash in Alaska explains why I’m leery of small planes.

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Grab a walking stick and set out to walk from Georgia to Maine with your favorite bearded travel writer, Bill Bryson.  A pair of middle-aged dad bods are pushed to the limits and packed down with junk food as they try to ford streams in the middle of the wilderness along the AT, or Appalachian Trail. Equal parts funny and informative and possibly Bryson’s best book.

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National Geographic The National Parks: An Illustrated History

Let the photographers at National Geographic show you the most beautiful spots. Great for the traveler or the photography lover on your list.

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Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 62 Parks (Travel Guide)

I’ve used Moon Guides for years and appreciate the common sense tips along with up-to-date information. Here’s an updated  guide covering all 62 National Parks. Find it packed with information for your next National Park getaway.

Along with individual write-ups for the parks, find lots of general parks facts and tips in the front. And the photos are inspiring.

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9 Nonprofits that the U.S. National Parks 

Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears: 100 Years of the National Park Service by Heather Hansen

An easy-to-read book packed with interesting facts and stories from the first 100 years of the NPS. Learn the history, the politics and the characters surrounding the legendary U.S. parks.

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The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley

For serious student of the national parks, Brinkley offers over 800 pages of history into the complex president who shaped the National Parks. It’s an engaging and thoughtful analysis from a historian.

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Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park by Lee Whittlesey

Get a detailed account of how to die in Yellowstone National Park. Should be required reading for volunteers and contract workers spending their first summer in the park. Through the seasons and over the years, learn about how the weather, the animals and the skirmishes can be deadly. Not suitable for sensitive readers or young kids.

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Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks

I have a shelf full of Lonely Planet guides. This guides provides an overview of the parks. Buy the individual guides for detailed information for specific parks.

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Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt

Relive the early days of conservation in the U.S. as told by Borroughs. He accompanied President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir during a pivotal camping trip in the Sierra Mountains. A small book that makes a good stocking stuffer.

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The national parks need support. The easiest way is to donate to nonprofits that support the National Park Service. You can also donate your time, in the parks or as a volunteer for one the nonprofits that benefit the national parks. Here are several nonprofits that benefit the national parks.

National Park Foundation

As the official charity for the U.S. National Park Service, it has charter from the U.S. Congress.

Its mission statement is to  “further the conservation of natural, scenic, historic, scientific, educational, inspirational, or recreational resources for future generations of Americans”.

Former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson founded the National Park Foundation in 1968.

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National Parks Conservation Association

As the only independent nonpartisan member organization, it is devoted to the advocacy of the National Park System. Its mission statement is “to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for present and future generations”.

Stephen Mather and Robert Sterling Yard founded the National Parks Conservation Association in 1919.

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National Park Trust

As a land acquisition and environmental education nonprofit, it acquires the missing pieces inside or adjacent to national parks. It also brings kids from under-served communities to the parks. Its mission statement is to “preserve parks today and create park stewards for tomorrow”. 

It was founded in 1983.

I am a volunteer Ambassador for the National Park Trust.

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National Park Service

The National Park Service welcomes volunteers in the parks. It’s an ideal way to donate your time. Programs are available throughout the NPS system and range for one day events to year-round programs. 

Volunteer positions range from campground hosts to visitor center volunteers. Volunteers with 250 hours per year get a NPS annual park pass. Some opportunities include complimentary campsites. Become a National Park VIP, or Volunteers in the Park.

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Student Conservation Association

As a nonprofit organization, it is dedicated “to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.” This association host camps and internships to get high school and college students in the parks to perform conservation work.

Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putman founded the SCA in 1957 .

My son has volunteered for the SCA summer program in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve in Washington.

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National Parks Art Foundation

As a nonprofit organization it is “dedicated to bringing artistic experiences to National Park Service sites”. It offers Artist-in-Residence programs across the National Parks. like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park off the coast of Florida.   

I was named a finalist for the 2021 NPAF Dry Tortugas Artist in Residence program.

Individual Park’s Associations

Some of the larger National Parks have their own foundations to support programming and conservation in its respective parks. For a complete list, head to the NPS site. 

The Grand Canyon Conservancy is one such organization and it benefits of the Grand Canyon National Park. Find popular camps and workshops throughout the year, like guided family camps, artist workshops and more.

My son attended a week-long Leave-No-Trace camping and hiking trip into the canyon with the Grand Canyon Conservancy Field Institute.

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The Sierra Club

Its mission statement is “to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives”.

On the West Coast, it organizes outdoor activities . Though it is know for its political activism for environmental causes, like damn projects impacting national parks. 

John Muir the famous naturalist founded The Sierra Club in 1892.

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The Nature Conservancy 

It is a global environmental organization. Its mission statement “is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends”. To date it has protected more than 119,000,000 acres of land. 

The Nature Conservancy was founded in 1951.

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