Reading List

If you’re interested in learning more about Alaska pre- or post-trip, consider our recommendations below, organized by topic. Many of the Alaska books we recommend may be found at Alaska Geographic or your favorite local bookstore.

Alaska Travels and Memoirs

Alaska, Reflections on Land and Spirit and The Great Land, Reflections on Alaska by Robert Hedin and Gary Holthause
Both books are diverse and comprehensive collections of writers who have traveled, lived in, or are native to Alaska. The books include accounts of early explorers, natives, naturalists and many others.

Coming into the Country by John McPhee
An Outsider’s view of Alaska that offers a superb introduction to the state. Through describing personal experiences, John McPhee blends an informative array of history, issues and facts.

Travels in Alaska by John Muir
Some remarkable descriptions of Southeast Alaska in the late 1800s, including descriptions of native life and the spectacular glacial country. This would be an enjoyable prelude to a cruise up the Inside Passage, a visit to Glacier Bay, or to Prince William Sound.

Alaska by James Michener
The author has displayed a masterful placement of imagined characters among genuine participants in events of history in Alaska.

Two in the Far North by Margaret D. Murie
A woman’s version of life during the frontier days of Alaska. She recounts her childhood in Fairbanks and then her adventures as a young wife, traveling through the wilderness with her husband, famous biologist Olaus Murie.

Denali: A Literary Anthology edited by Bill Sherwonit
A wonderful collection of 23 stories on the Denali Park area. The sections include Native sacred stories, early explorations, mountaineering, natural history and modern adventures.

Glaciers and Geology

Blue Ice in Motion, the Story of Alaska’s Glaciers by Sally Wiley
An excellent, well-illustrated introduction to the glaciers of Alaska, how they form, why they move and the landforms they create.

Guidebook to Geology of Anchorage, Alaska by Lorie and Thomas Dilley
A great resource for the novice geologist, this book gives a great geologic perspective on the formation of the Chugach Mountains and the Anchorage Bowl.

Roadside Geology of Alaska by Cathy O’Connor
The rocky foundations of Alaska are just as varied and vital as the people who live in the landscape. This book explains geology using language that is easy to understand.

After the Ice Age by E.C. Pilou
Eighteen thousand years ago, an immense sheet of ice thousands of feet thick covered all of present day Canada and the northernmost U.S. This story tells of how a harsh terrain that resembled Antarctica has been gradually transformed into the environment we know today.

Alaskan History and Native Peoples

Trails Across Time by Kaylene Johnson
Come travel along the historic trails, tracks and waterways of one of Alaska’s most scenic places. The Kenai Mountain – Turnagain Arm Corridor’s valleys and mountains, communities and people tell the larger story of a wild place and a rugged frontier. From the geologic forces that shaped the landscape to Native trails, a gold rush and the eventual building of a railroad and highways, the area reflects the broader history of Alaska as a whole.

Where the Sea Breaks Its Back by Corey Ford
Excellent story of Vitus Bering’s second voyage to Alaska. Ten years in the making, this voyage was plagued with difficulties, including shipwreck. Naturalist Georg Steller was aboard and made numerous discoveries about the natural history of Alaska.

Goldrush Women by Jane Haigh
Collection of essays, stories and pictures of the women who played key roles in the Alaskan Goldrush.

Make Prayers to the Raven by Richard Nelson
A blending of ethnography, personal reflections and natural history, Nelson’s narrative is a moving account of the Koyukon people and their subsistence lifestyle. Offers an in-depth description of traditional hunting, fishing and trapping in remote villages scattered across the Alaskan Boreal Forest.

Shadows on the Koyukuk by Sidney Huntington
One man’s story about growing up Athabaskan on the Koyukuk River in Western Alaska. Encompasses Athabaskan traditional and spiritual beliefs.

Etok: A Story of Eskimo Power by Hugh Gregory Gallagher
An Alaska Native describes how Alaska Natives organized and fought to influence and pass the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Kantishna: Mushers, Miners, Mountaineers – The Pioneer Story Behind Mount McKinley National Park by Tom Walker
True stories of the pioneers who forged and prospected the Kantishna hills and of others who were drawn by adventures and a vision.

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic by E.C. Pielou
A practical guide to the Arctic’s natural history: sky, atmosphere, terrain, ice, sea, plants, birds, mammals, fish and insects. Perfect for those who will experience the Arctic firsthand and for armchair travelers who would just as soon read about its splendors and surprises.

Wildlife Field Guides

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Jon L. Dunn for National Geographic
Veteran Guides’ choice for field identification of North American birds. Known as one of the best guides for birding anywhere in the United States.

Sibley’s Guide to Western Birds by David Sibley
An indispensable resource for all birders seeking an authoritative and portable guide to the birds of the West.

Guide to the Birds of Alaska by Robert Armstrong
Photos and short descriptions of over 400 species of birds found in Alaska.

Marine Mammals of Alaska by Kate Wynne
A guide to all of the marine mammals found in Alaskan waters.

Alaska Mammals from the Alaska Geographic Series
A great book of pictures and natural history highlighting Alaska mammals.

Backcountry Bear Basics by Dave Smith
The definitive guide to co-existing on backcountry adventures.

Animal Tracks of Alaska by Chris Stall
This handbook has illustrations of the hoof, paw and foot prints of Alaska’s mammals.

Botanical Field Guides

Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parklands by Derek Johnson
This beautifully illustrated, easy-to-use field guide provides detailed information about plants in the region extending from Alaska to western Ontario. Whether you’re a naturalist, day hiker or an armchair adventurer, you can explore our region with this handy reference in your backpack or library.

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers by Verna Pratt
Identifies commonly found wildflowers using colorful pictures and a color-coordinated system for identification in the field.

Wildflowers of Denali National Park by Verna Pratt
Identifies wildflowers found in various parts of Denali National Park, including the Kantishna area where Kantishna Roadhouse is located.

Discovering Wild Plants by Janice Schofield
Written by an Alaska resident, this book explores the medicinal, culinary and natural history of Alaska’s wild plants.

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