Book Reviews

This is not a complete list of books, by any means. Nor are these the BEST books available. These are the books I recommend most often for my own dark and sinister reasons.

Books which are out of print may be found at Powells, Amazon or in many a dusty and cobwebbed bookstore.

HIKING GUIDES

A GUIDE TO HIKING THE INNER CANYON

Scott Thybony

The "official" park publication, used to be handed out for free. Each new edition has more color pictures. Good maps, nice minimal trail descriptions, excellent section on Leave No Trace. I have volumes from 1970, 1980, and 1994 and all were given to me by various rangers (do you suppose they are trying to tell me something?).

DAY HIKES FROM THE RIVER

Tom Martin

As the title indicates, day hikes from the Big Muddy (or big Lime Green Jello depending on the floods upstream). Useful for the river runner, but also for the hiker with a lay-over day at the River. New edition has more hikes and improved maps, but I haven't found a copy of that one yet.

GRAND CANYON TRAIL GUIDE SERIES

Varied One booklet for each trail

North and South Bass, Hermit, Bright Angel, North and South Kaibab, Grandview, Supai. Nice detail. I like the ones with the large scale map that shows every switchback: it makes it easier to make notes to myself of where the hidden fossils are (and they stay hidden because someone chiseled out all my brachiopods in the Redwall on South Kaibab).

A BACKPACKING GUIDE TO THE WEINUCHE WILDERNESS

Dennis Gebhardt

Includes maps for this iconic hike along the Continental Divide in southern Colorado.

LONGS PEAK: THE STORY OF COLORADO'S FAVORITE FOURTEENER

Douglad MacDonald

No, I haven't made it to the summit. I stopped just before the final narrow ledge. Mostly because the route was so crowded it made me nervous to be near those drop-offs: I don't like feeling pressured near cliffs. But this is a good read even for those who don't want to climb the peak.

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HISTORY

MARY COLTER: BUILDER UPON THE RED EARTH

Virginia Gratan

She had little formal training, became a professional architect at a time when women stayed home, pioneered a lot of the same ideas later espoused by Frank Lloyd Wright, and HER buildings don't fall down.

QUEST FOR THE PILLAR OF GOLD

Billingsley, Spamer, Menkes

The first visitors to Grand Canyon were looking to make a buck (yeah, like anything has changed?). So all that bare rock had to have gold somewhere, right? Good history of mining for all sorts of stuff (asbestos, guano, etc.) with nice old pictures.

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NATURAL HISTORY AND SCIENCE

THE RIVER THAT FLOWS UPHILL: A Journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain

William H. Calvin

A lyrical, philosophical, poetry-like account of a river trip with a group of scientists. Good information on all aspects of science, but especially geology and evolution. Caution: if you are a young-earth creationist, this book will tick you off mightily.

FIELD GUIDE TO THE GRAND CANYON

Stephen Whitney

Good overall guide to all things Canyon. Animals, history, plants, trails, etc. A little sketchy in some details, but there is a lot of ground to cover. Nice illustrations. This one has been updated in newer editions than mine.

AN INTRODUCTION TO GRAND CANYON GEOLOGY

Greer Price

A small and nicely condensed intro to geology.

AN INTRODUCTION TO GRAND CANYON PREHISTORY

Christopher M. Coder

Small and nicely condensed intro to those who lived here before us.

AN INTRODUCTION TO GRAND CANYON ECOLOGY

Rose Hauk

Nice and compact intro to ecology.

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RIVER RUNNING

SUNK WITHOUT A SOUND

Brad Dimock

I read this book from the library, then ran out to buy a copy for my collection so I could savor it over and over. Brad Dimock built a scow like the one used by Glenn and Bessie Hyde and took it down the Colorado River to ascertain what may have happened to the honeymooning couple. The result is exciting, well researched, and in places funny as heck. Dimock also explores the idea that Bessie might have murdered Glenn and made a new life for herself (unlikely).

THE BIG DROPS

Rodernick Nash

Covers the ten "largest" whitewater rapids in the American west. I've heard some river runners nitpick about Nash's choices for the "big ones", but let them write their own books. Includes Crystal and Lava, and the stories affiliated with each rapid are great.

CANYON

Michael P. Ghiglieri

Catchy title, no? Alternates with stories of a river trip and lovely detailed essays on diverse subjects. One of my favorites.

THERE'S THIS RIVER: GRAND CANYON BOATMEN STORIES

Christa Salder editor

Boatmen got stories, and here are some of the best. From the funny to the scary to the spooky.

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MISCELLANEOUS

GHOSTS OF GLEN CANYON: HISTORY BENEATH LAKE POWELL

C. Gregory Crampton

This is a beautiful but depressing book. Tellingly, they do not sell this at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor's center. Will either make an activist out of you or convince you that the take-the-dam-down activists need to get a real life.

VISITORS GUIDE TO THE KAIBAB NATIONAL FOREST

Southwest Natural and Cultural Heritage Association

Camping, hiking, mountain biking guide to the North Kaibab National Forest. No permits needed for most of these trips.

OVER THE EDGE: DEATH IN GRAND CANYON

Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers

This is the book that everyone is talking about. Newbies like to wave it in front of their co-workers and say, "See? I could die down there!" while veterans like to shake their heads and say , "What WERE they thinking!?". This was written with the idea that if one reads about several persons who collapse in the trail whilst trying a rim to rim to rim in August with a can of Coke as their sole provision, it is probably not a good idea for the gentle reader to try same.

WALK IN THE WOODS.

Bill Bryson

This book is hilarious. Everything a new hiker does wrong, Bryson managed to do. Also a lot of good information on history and natural history along the Appalachian Trail.

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