A great was to enhance your trip to Arches National Park is to read even more about the area. With books about hikes, the natural environment, its history, and the need for modern preservation, here is a hand-curated listed of the best books about Arches National Park and the surrounding area.
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Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks: A Guide to More Than 60 Great Hikes (2017) by Bill Schneider
This book contains details of more than sixty trails in both Arches National Park and all three areas of Canyonlands National Park. It includes my favorite Arches hikes such as Devil’s Garden Trail, as well as the Island in the Sky, Needles and even the lesser-visited Maze section of Canyonlands.
There are hikes for all levels. Each hike has detailed descriptions and maps and even GPS coordinates for all trailheads. If you plan to hike in the area, this is a great book to have.
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (1990) by Edward Abbey
This is Edward Abbey’s first non-fiction book. It describes his experience working as a park ranger in Arches National Park. His descriptions of the area and stories of his adventures are captivating.
And his arguments for the importance of maintaining this incredible place is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
A Naturalist’s Guide to Canyon Country (2013) by David B. Williams and Gloria Brown
This is a great introduction to the environment and ecosystems in the Colorado Plateau, including Arches National Park. Discover all about the fascinating geology of this area, as well as more than 270 plants and animals that call it home.
This will really enhance your trip to Arches and give you insight into what you are seeing that will enrich your experience there.
Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region (1990) by Sally J. Cole
Much of the focus in this area is on the incredible geology, but there is fascinating human history too. This book focuses on pictographs (painting on rocks) and petroglyphs (carvings in rocks) in the entire Four Corners area.
While not limited to Arches National Park, it is nonetheless a fascinating introduction to the history of ancient peoples in this region through the art they left behind. There are loads of color photos, plus plentiful descriptions.
127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2004) by Aron Ralston
This book was made into the 2010 movie 127 Hours with James Franco. It’s the true story (autobiography) of Aron Ralston, who was hiking in remote Blue John Canyon near Arches National Park when his hand got trapped under a rock in an accident.
Spoiler alert: he amputated his hand himself in order to escape. It’s a gruesome, bit fascinating story.
Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert (2002) by Terry Tempest Williams
This book was first recommended to me by a ranger in Arches during an evening presentation at the amphitheater at the Devil’s Garden campground.
It’s not just about Arches, but is a collection of stories and thoughts about the desert in this rea. It’s a moving testimony to the power of the desert – its geology, wildlife, and people. It’s hard not to be moved when reading it. It will definitely make you feel connected to the area.
Do you have any other favorite books about Arches National Park or the surrounding area? I’d love to know what it is. Comment below.
Do you want to read more books about other national parks? Check out my Recommended Reading book lists.
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James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents. He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.
He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.
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