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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Complete National Parks of the United States

I purchased another book with my Christmas gift card in addition to Bill Bryson’s African Diary. And just like it, I had also seen this one on the shelf at the book store several months ago. I passed on buying National Geographic’s Complete National Parks of the United States at that time because it is more of a desk reference book, opposed to a guide I’d carry along with me on a hike. I’m glad I picked it up now, though, because it is one heck of a desk reference.
I have not yet read Complete National Parks of the United States cover-to-cover. It honestly seems rather silly to do so. That would be like reading the encyclopedia from front to back. Sure, it can be entertaining and educational, but it’s not meant for that purpose. Instead, it is meant to be consulted when planning a trip that will include national parks, monuments, historic sites, trails and other places managed by the National Park Service.
So, instead of reading this all the way through, I read the entries for the national parks I have visited or will be seeing in the very near future. I found them all to be very well written with a history of each park, some suggestions on what to see, and where to go or who to call for more information. And many of the entries include the great photography you’d expect from National Geographic, as well as maps and other reference material.
If I have one complaint, it’d be the organization of Complete National Parks of the United States. It is smartly organized by region and then by state, although I have already found this to be a little frustrating. While the format does make sense, I would have preferred it be alphabetical by state. Based on the way it is now, I have to thumb through the book, or check the table of contents, in order to first find the region and then the state I need, instead of just going straight to the state based on how it would be found alphabetically.
This is a minor speed bump and one that I’m sure I’ll quickly get over. And as I begin to plan more trips to see the national parks of the United States, this will be my first reference point. Because of its bulk and hardcover nature, though, it will not be the book I carry with me on a hike. I’ll still reserve that for National Geographic’s other national parks book. This will instead find itself on the shelf, like The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, as a source for information and planning before I head out on my next adventure.

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