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Best Books to Read Before You Visit Yellowstone

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Nothing comes close to the experience of seeing, hearing, and smelling Yellowstone in person, but these books will have you counting the seconds until your next trip to the world's most iconic park.

Old Faithful Geyser

Free Fire

By C.J. Box

Follow Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett as he investigates the murder of 4 campers in Yellowstone's infamous Zone of Death. This narrow strip of land along the Idaho border is the location of an actual loophole in the law that allows neither the federal government nor the local states to try you for a crime committed there. Pickett's investigation leads him to a variety of Yellowstone tourist destinations including Mammoth Hot Spring Hotel, the Old Faithful Inn, the North Gate, and Bechler Ranger Station. The book will leave you side-eyeing those Xanterra employees and park Rangers the next time you visit, too. This is the 7th book in Box's Joe Pickett series, but you do not need to have read the first 6 to enjoy it. A great choice for mystery fans. Amazon I Goodreads

Lost in My Own Backyard

By Time Cahill

This collection of the author's real-life Yellowstone experiences and musings is a quick read and perfect for visitors on their first or forty-second visit to the park. Historical tidbits and fun facts are sprinkled throughout as Cahill explores both popular destinations (the geyser basins, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, etc.) and remote ones (Thorofare Ranger Station, Goblin Labyrinth, etc.) on foot. The book also served as my first introduction to moonbows. If you've only got time for one book about Yellowstone, you can't go wrong with this one.


By John Clayton

From Ansel Adams to Yogi Bear, Yellowstone National Park has captured the imaginations and hearts of Americans for over 150 years. Clayton provides an excellent overview of the park's history and how its iconic status and value has changed with each generation's needs and interests. My husband and I enjoyed the audiobook on a recent road trip and highly recommend it. If you're looking for a more detail oriented history of the Park's origins and early days, try Empire of Shadows by George Black.

The Rise of Wolf 8

By Rick McIntyre

The controversial decision to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone in 1995 still makes headlines today, but acclaimed wolf researcher, Rick McIntyre, doesn't dwell on that. Instead, he chronicles the behavior of the initial transplants and focuses on Wolf 8, the young pup who was bullied by his bigger brothers and unexpectedly became one of the park's preeminent alphas. As the author states, this story of "warfare, betrayal, murder, bravery, compassion, empathy" and loyalty is worthy of a Shakespearean tale. This is book one in The Alpha Wolves of Yellowstone trilogy and shows there is so much more to wolves than you ever imagined.

Death in Yellowstone

By Lee Whittlesey

Rocks and rivers and bears, oh my! Whittlesey gives a respectful overview of the multiple lives lost in and around this iconic park from a plethora of means, including falls, drownings, stagecoach incidents, shootings, avalanches, bison, and more. An updated edition released in 2014 includes new insight into some of the earlier deaths and introduces some recent ones. Lessons to remember: Don't go anywhere alone and don't disregard signage and warnings from rangers. They tell you not to wander off those trails for a reason!

More Reading Recommendations

What are your favorite Yellowstone books?

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