National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 5th Ed. (英語) ペーパーバック – 2006/2/21
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Featuring 80 all new maps and more than 350 photos, this guide is the most comprehensive, up-to-the-minute book of its kind on the market today. A perennial favorite with almost a million copies sold in previous editions, it reflects National Geographic's century-long association with America's national parks system and its peerless reputation for travel expertise and cartographic excellence.
The book opens with an essay by Yellowstone authority Paul Schullery, and an introduction to the guide with a locator map showing all 58 of these American treasures (including the newest, South Carolina's Congree National Park). Next, the parks are presented alphabetically region-by-region, with individual maps and geographical profiles of each. These colorfully illustrated descriptions offer tours tailored to the time available, whether it's an hour or a week, and tell visitors the best spots to enjoy hikes, spectacular vistas, wildlife and more. Itineraries and directions, special activities and advisories, and suggestions of hotels and campgrounds are provided, along with scores of ideas for excursions to nearby wildlife refuges, monuments, and other nature areas of exceptional interest140 in all.
From planning a trip to making the most of every minute, here's all the information anyone could want on the scenic national parks plus invaluable recommendations and advice from the National Geographic writers who know them well.
#1. I was surprised that so many of the photos haven't changed since 1989 (and who knows how long they were taken before that) except for some that are actually worse. One example is the frontispiece photo for the Yellowstone section. In the 2006 volume it is an under-exposed, super-contrasty shot of the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. Disappointingly (given the incredible opportunities to portray the visual variety that is Yellowstone) there is a second quite similar photo 6 pages later of another section of Mammoth. In my old book, the Yellowstone frontispiece is a lovely shot of the lower falls of the Yellowstone River completely missing from 2006. The other photos, in this section at least, are unchanged. So what's wrong with that? They're OLD. The colors are overly-saturated in the traditional National Geographic style, some with the contrast hiked so high that the details are lost. I admit this is perhaps a matter of taste. It's just a missed opportunity to improve the illustrations, and good ones are always very useful!
#2. There is a dearth of Web information. Each park's URL is listed, but not those of the associated excursion locations such as near-by wildlife refuges and national forests, all of which do have Web pages, nor for the lodging concessionaires.
Having said all that, I find this book to be a particularly useful jumping off point for Web research. It's well-organized, though due to the volume of material, understandably, none of the descriptions contains great detail. But most of what I want to know is there: what's the best time to visit? what are the gateway communities and in-park accommodations options? The maps are readable and sufficient for planning purposes. I particularly like the Excursions sections describing what other interesting areas are in proximity to the parks.
The book is compact, dense and heavy, easy to navigate, with a much-improved index so you no longer have to know what region a park is assigned to find it.
I definitely do recommend the National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States to help make decisions and plans for travel to our parks and surrounds.