Books for Exploring America

Janet Fabio

A new year is a great time to plan new adventures. If you’re thinking about exploring the natural wonders, historic sites, or more in the USA, start by visiting the DesertView Library. Three special collections offer a wealth of resources to plan your adventures.

The Travel Collection offers a broad range of guidebooks and other useful resources. You can find books for planning road trips and scenic drives, including Arizona’s Scenic Roads and Hikes and The Open Road: 50 Best Road Trips in the USA. Plan visits to state parks nearby, as well as across the USA, with books such as the National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States. The new Lonely Planet guide Ultimate United States Travel List ranks the top 500 destinations in the U.S. Or look for more specialized guidebooks for Arizona or nearby states, such as Utah and New Mexico.

The National Parks Collection at DesertView Library offers many helpful guidebooks with detailed information for planning visits to national parks, national monuments, and historic sites. Examples include the Moon Travel Handbook USA National Parks and Insight’s U.S. National Parks West. This collection is also where you will find many books about the Grand Canyon, as well as specific guidebooks to select other national parks, such as Zion and Bryce.

The Southwest Collection has a variety of guidebooks to areas of local interest, such as ruins and ghost towns and special attractions in Tucson. There is an entire shelf of hiking guidebooks. Natural Landmarks of Arizona, by David Yetman, is a new guidebook to iconic Arizona landmarks. Learn more about landmarks such as the Salt River Canyon, Kitt Peak, or Cathedral Rock in Sedona. In addition to geological information, entries also include recent history or natural history of the area around each landmark.

Not ready to venture out just yet? These special collections also offer a range of nonfiction titles to expand your knowledge. For example, the Southwest Collection has a broad selection of books about Arizona history. Meet an adventurous 19th century woman in a new biography, The Forgotten Botanist: Sara Plummer Lemmon’s Life of Science & Art. Sara was married to J.G. Lemmon (of Mount Lemmon fame), and she discovered hundreds of new plant species in Arizona and the Southwest. The book includes some of her beautiful watercolor illustrations of plants.

In 2022, we will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. It seems a good time to ask where the idea for a national park originated. The Power of Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Origin of National Parks, by Dennis Drabelle, explores how Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for managing a wilderness park centered on Yosemite Valley became the blueprint for national parks in the future.

If fiction is more your pace, pick up Vanishing Edge by Claire Kells. It’s the first in a series about a partnership between an ISB agent and a park ranger who solves mysteries in the national parks. This one is set in Sequoia. Two other authors who have written mysteries set in national parks are Scott Graham and Nevada Barr.

If you are not yet registered to use the SaddleBrooke Community Libraries, it’s fast, easy, and free. Visit the SaddleBrooke One Library or the DesertView Library during staffed hours, and a volunteer will assist you. Visit the libraries’ website,, for more information, including a link to the online catalog where you can request the books noted in this article or search for others by subject, author, or title.