There’s nothing more compelling than to dive into novels set in National Parks when you are actually visiting. I especially love to sit around the campfire in the evening and read a great mystery or adventure story that takes place in the National Park I’m camping at that night. The book about that National Park comes to life in front of your eyes!
If you find joy in reading novels set in places you have been or places you wish you could visit, then this list is for you. Find delight in being able to picture exactly the spot the hero is searching for clues, the spot where she falls in love, or the spot where everything falls apart and then comes together.
I’ve collected a list of some of the best novels set in National Parks that fit the bill. These are a mix of fiction, mysteries, and adventure stories that take place in the United States National Parks. Then I mixed in a couple of true National Park novels that are so enthralling you won’t be able to put the book down. What these books are not is your usual travel guide. I hope you find a couple that will take you on a virtual vacation as you explore the parks through the eyes of the story’s hero.
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Novels Set in Arches National Park
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
Desert Solitaire is a collection of essays by Edward Abbey, based on his time as a ranger in Arches National Park. The essays create one of the most interesting novels set in national parks.
He’s acclaimed as a great storyteller, weaving amazing imagery that will transport you to another place.
Novels Set in Badlands National Park
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree Ann Weisgarber
Weisgarber’s love of American History is evident as she spins this tale of pioneers in the Badlands in 1917. Her craft of historical fiction in National Parks captures the trials of black women in history.
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is the story of a fiercely proud black family building a ranch in the harsh Badlands as told through the eyes of the wife, Rachel. The trials of the land challenge her on every level and lead her to question if her love for her husband is worth the risk to her family.
Novel Set in Gates of the Arctic National Park
An Unforgiving Place by Claire Kells
For her second mystery novel set in a National Park, Kells tackles one of the most remote National Parks in Alaska. Gates of the Arctic sets the stage for the most unusual mystery.
Her hero Felicity Harland returns to find out why a young couple is found dead in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. An Unforgiving Place takes her and her partner Huxley into the deep artic to uncover a fertility cult and the mysteries they hide.
Novels Set in Glacier National Park
The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo
We are going to start with one of my favorite novels set in National Parks. Carbo truly captures the ruggedness of Glacier National Park. This fiction story combines my fascination with grizzly bears and my love of mysteries.
Carbo weaves a great story about a murder in Glacier National Park where the criminal appears to be a grizzly. The Wild Inside contrasts the beauty of Glacier National Park and the ugly truth behind this death.
Night of the Grizzlies by Jack Olsen
Jack Olsen’s true account of the scariest night in Glacier National Park is a testament to “fact can be scarier than fiction”. Brad (dear hubby) recalls reading this aloud around the campfire when backcountry hiking in Glacier. Needless to say, it was scarier than any old ghost story. He’s tried to get me to read this one to no avail. I have enough fear of grizzlies on my own!
The Night of the Grizzlies chronicles an event that took place in 1967 when in one single night 2 campers in different camping locations were mauled and killed by grizzlies. If you love true crime and being scared silly when in grizzly country this is the book to take camping with you in Glacier National Park.
Novels Set in Grand Canyon National Park
Canyon Sacrifice by Scott Graham
Scott Graham starts his National Park Mystery Series in a mysteriously beautiful National Park, the Grand Canyon. As an avid outdoorsman, he shows us the National Parks in a way that takes us right into the scene.
In Canyon Sacrifice, the hero of the story is archeologist Chuck Bender. He gets pulled into a murder and a kidnapping. The plot deftly winds through the canyon and along the trails. You’ll enjoy this novel set in a national park!
Novels set in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
A native of the Appalachians, Amy Greene pulls from her intimate knowledge of the culture in crafting her characters.
This novel weaves through 4 generations as it spins the tale of an interesting mix of characters and their lives in the Appalachian Mountains. Many reviews remarked at the slow start of Green’s novel Bloodroot and then rave about how it slowly draws you in and ends up being one of those books you just can’t let go.
The big surprise in putting together this list was the discovery that Audible has a huge library that included every one of these books.
Do you love listening to books when exercising, riding in the car, working in the yard, and so many other places? Amazon’s Audible program seems like a really great deal that you can learn more about on their audible membership page.
What’s most important is that Prime members can get a free month right now. And with Amazon, it’s super easy to cancel, without ever paying a dime, if you decide it’s not for you by just logging in and clicking the cancel button.
Novels Set in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Track of the Cat: Anna Pigeon Mysteries by Nevada Barr
Nevada Barr draws on her experience working in the National Parks to create intriguing mysteries. If you love this one, Barr has crafted a series of 18 mystery novels featuring her famous Anna as she works in other National Parks. As a huge Agatha Christie fan, I had to purchase this one right away!
In Track of the Cat: Anna Pigeon Mysteries her heroine, Anna Pigeon, unravels a murder that had quickly been written off as a mountain lion attack. You’ll find yourself wandering all over Guadalupe National Park alongside ranger Pigeon!
Novels Set in Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde Thunder by Gary McCarthy
McCarthy writes a compelling historical fiction novel about the Anasazi based on archeological finds in Mesa Verde.
Set in 450 AD, Mesa Verde Thunder is the story of Echata, a desperate Anasazi leader who has the vision to move The People into unknown lands. McCarthy brings to life the stories hidden in the depths of Mesa Verde.
Novels Set in Mount Rainier National Park
The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett
In Karen Barnett’s first historical fiction novel in the Vintage National Parks Series, she takes us to Mount Rainier in 1927. She does an amazing job of capturing the simplicity of the wilderness and capturing the threat of unmanaged crowding in the National Parks.
Her historical heroine in The Road to Paradise, Margaret Lane is living the dream as she works in Mt Rainier. That is until development threatens the pristine park. A love triangle complicates her feelings about the changes that are coming to this amazing National Park. As you visit Mount Rainer, you’ll recognize the Paradise Inn and the development around it that still draws massive crowds today.
Novel Set in Pinnacles National Park
Forgotten Trail by Claire Kells
Claire Kells 3rd mystery novel moves her heroine Felicity Harland to Pinnacles National Park. It seems like a predator of the human kind is on the loose in California’s famous volcanic park.
A man is stabbed to death in the Pinnacles Grand Hotel, and there’s another death on the hiking trails. Felicity is called to see if the 2 cases are related and solve the mystery. Another intriguing National Parks Novel.
Novels Set in Rocky Mountain National Park
A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird
Caught me… this book is based on true stories. These are the stories written and shared by Isabella Bird in 1873. She’s definitely quirky and unique. A character not to be missed.
In 1873, female travel writer Isabella Bird rode horseback through the Rockies. The stories of her adventures were published first in letters to her sister and later in A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. She’s quite the character, remembered for being the first woman to climb Longs Peak in a flowing Hawaiian gown. Rocky Mountain National Park is without a doubt my favorite park and I believe you’ll love traveling through the Rockies and experiencing life almost 150 years ago with Isabella.
The Shining by Stephen King
Without a doubt, one of the most famous novels based on a national park experience. The Shining is one of Stephen King’s signature novels. If you haven’t read it yet, now is the time. Discover the famous Stanley Hotel, just outside the gates of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Shining was inspired Stephen King’s 1974 stay in Room 217. In a truly frightening psycho-horror story, the young son of the hotel’s new caretaker is sensing strange forces. In traditional King style, you will be scared out of your mind.
Mountain Rampage by Scott Graham
The second in Graham’s National Park Series is a mystery you’ll love to try to solve. Mountain Rampage takes you into the depths of Rocky Mountain National Park.
A resort worker is killed in Rocky Mountain National Park and when Chuck Bender digs into the mystery, he and his family become targets of the killer.
Novels Set in Saguaro National Park
Saguaro Sanction by Scott Graham
Graham captures the complexities of the blended cultures of Southwestern Arizona in Saguaro Sanction. The desert of Saguaro National Park is the backdrop to this mystery.
In his 7th novel, Graham’s heroes are devastated when a cousin is brutally murdered in the park. Solving the mystery requires crossing borders and cultures.
Novels set in Sequoia National Park
Waltzing in Ragtime by Eileen Charbonneau
Eilieen Charbonneau is legendary for her detailed historical research and her ability to weave it into a beautiful story. In Waltzing In Ragtime, she shares an amazing tale set in Sequoia National Park:
The year is 1900 and Olana Whittaker is striving to be recognized as a serious journalist in San Francisco. Through Olana, you can experience the challenges a woman in business faces. She meets forest ranger and conservationist Matthew Hart while writing a feature on Sequoia National Park. What ensues is a clash of cultures and of course a trying romantic relationship.
Vanishing Edge by Claire Kells
Claire Kells writes about romantic twists as she leads her heroes to unravel mysteries. In Vanishing Edge, the first of her National Park Mystery Series, she takes us to Sequoia National Park
As the book description says “Bad things happen in the wilderness—and sometimes they’re not accidents.” The heroine of this National Park novel is former FBI agent Felicity Harland who teams up with Navy Seal turned park ranger Huxly to discover why a remote campsite was abandoned with all its high-tech gear and tent still standing. Their search takes them to a very dark place.
Novels set in Yosemite National Park
Gloryland by Shelton Johnson
Shelton Johnson artfully combines his passion for researching the story of the Buffalo Soldiers with his over 20 years as a National Park Ranger (15 in Yosemite NP) in telling this powerful story.
Gloryland is the tale of Elijah Yancy’s life as a Buffalo Soldier who skillfully explores the conflicting emotions of a man fighting to discover his own identity while under the flag of his country persecuting other men of color. Elijah finally finds peace when his troop is stationed in the wilderness of Yosemite.
Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett
This fiction novel might be about a watercolor artist, but it appears that Karen Barnett is just as deft at creating the beautiful imagery of Yosemite National Park with her words. This is Barnett’s 2nd fiction novel in the Vintage National Park Series.
Where the Fire Falls is a tangled story of the relationship between artist Olivia Rutherford and backcountry guide Clark Johnson. The story explores their growing friendship and untangles their history in a well-written novel.
Novels Set in Yellowstone National Park
Fire Flight by John Nance
Fiction author John Nance, a decorated pilot veteran, is famous for his aviation-based suspense novels. In Fire Flight he takes that deep knowledge and applies it to this very timely fictional National Park novel about the brave men and women who fight National Park wildfires.
A mysterious string of accidents claims the lives of veteran firefighters and now it appears that it is no accident. Clark Maxwell joins the fight against wildfires in Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons. He gets caught up in the well-twisted plot as he tries to unravel the clues. And of course, there is a little bit of romance included.
Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett
I am always intrigued by the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the incredible impact those hard-working men had on the National Parks. You see their work when you visit the Lodge at Old Faithful. So Karen Barnett’s 3rd novel in the Vintage National Parks Series called my name!
In Ever Faithful, Barnett unravels a friendship and love story between the college-bound daughter of a Yellowstone park ranger and the rough, tough foreman of the CCC team. The story is artfully told in a way that you really understand the struggle of the time and why men were willing to leave their families to work in remote National Parks.
Death Canyon by David Riley Bertsch
Fans rave about author David Bertsch’s great fly fishing imagery that he has woven into this suspenseful drama: Death Canyon. That made this novel particularly appealing to us as we know from Brad’s Montana fly-fishing trip that you can find a lot of adventure on the water.
Retired from the courtroom, Jake Trent has headed to Montana to open a lovely bed and breakfast and a fly fishing guide service. Life doesn’t stay idyllic long as he discovers a dead body. Then when 2 more, seemingly unrelated, deaths are reported on the same day Jake finds himself sucked into the drama. Now he is fighting to solve this mystery.
I hope you enjoy an afternoon of adventure with these great books. It’s such fun to travel to places through these novels set in National Parks. Picture yourself right there with the characters.