The Park Service centennial has inspired a flurry of books looking at every aspect of parks and what they mean to us.

Share story

The National Park Service centennial has inspired a flurry of books about our parks and the people who maintain them. A sampling:

• While the parks and their natural beauty get most of the attention, this centennial is truly about the corps of caregivers who help make those places special: the rangers and other employees and volunteers who keep the parks open. So “The Wonder of It All: 100 Stories from the National Park Service” seems like appropriate reading for this year of celebration. It’s full of good little tales, from Amy Mattix, of Olympic National Park, who tolerated shoulder-crushing backpacks to bring cold beer to a deprived wilderness ranger, to wildlife biologist Sherri Anderson’s memory of getting calmly cornered with a quartet of visiting Australian women by brown bears of all sizes and interests — two were mating — in the woods of Alaska’s Katmai National Park. ($18.95, Yosemite Conservancy, March 2016)


• Look deeply into what national parks are in this country, and maybe what they should be, in “A Thinking Person’s Guide to America’s National Parks,” with chapters dedicated to the sense of place, “Places to Play In,” biodiversity, indigenous voices and much more. ($24.95, George Braziller Inc., April 2016)


• Mark Woods, a Jacksonville, Fla., newspaper columnist, won a $75,000 fellowship to study the future of America’s parks, and one result is his book, “Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America’s National Parks.” From greeting that year atop Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park — often claimed to be America’s first place to see sunrise — to ending it atop Mount Haleakala on Maui, Woods’ writings are thoughtful and his style accessible and sometimes poignant as he looks at parks through the lens of climate change, relevancy and what they mean to American families, including his own. ($26.99, Thomas Dunne Books, June 2016)

• In the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration supported out-of-work artists by commissioning “See America” travel posters, many of which featured national parks. For the Park Service’s centennial, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association partnered with the Creative Action Network to commission a new generation of posters dedicated to national parks, monuments and historic sites, colorfully displayed in a little hardcover volume, “See America, A Celebration of Our National Parks & Treasured Sites.” Pick your favorite, then order a print or a T-shirt at ($19.95, Chronicle Books, 2016)

­— Seattle Times staff