Thousands of books have been written about Grand Canyon, from field guides to adventure stories. The Grand Canyon Association maintains a bibliography (www.grandcanyonbiblio.org) of canyon books, maps, periodicals, and other resources more than 40,000 items long. The titles listed below are a mere sampling of helpful, fascinating, and entertaining canyon lore.
Human History and Archaeology
Anderson, Michael F. Along the Rim. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 2001. A 72-page booklet that provides a concise history of Grand Canyon Village and 22 overlooks along Hermit Road and Desert View Drive, making it an excellent take-along resource for a driving tour.
Anderson, Michael F. Living at the Edge: Explorers, Exploiters, and Settlers of the Grand Canyon Region. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon, Association, 1998. This thorough history begins with Paleo-Indian use of the canyon and extends to the rise of tourism in the 1930s. River runners, miners, Harvey Girls, Mary Colter, and other pioneer figures are emphasized. Illustrations include maps and archival photographs, several of them taken by the Kolb Brothers.
Coder, Christopher M. An Introduction to Grand Canyon Prehistory. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon, Association, 2000. The author provides a concise but comprehensive description of 12,000 years of human life in Grand Canyon. Coder, a tribe archaeologist, has studied Grand Canyon sites and links his perspective to contemporary Native American cultures.
Grattan, Virginia L. Mary Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 1992. An excellent biography of eccentric and talented Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who designed the South Rim’s most spectacular buildings.
Geology and Natural History
Alden, Peter, et al. National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Plants, animals, geology, weather, and more are covered in this field guide, a good companion for a trip around the region. Color photos and star charts aid identifications of plants, animals, constellations, and landforms. Details include travel information for Grand Canyon, Coconino National Forest, and other Arizona parks and recreation areas.
Blakely, Ron, and Wayne Ranney. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 2008. If you’ve ever wished you could travel back in time to see what the Grand Canyon area looked like millions of years ago, this book will take you there through paleogeographic maps and illustrations.
Kavanaugh, James, and Raymond Leung. Field Guide to the Grand Canyon. Phoenix: Waterford Press, 2001. A laminated and folded brochure that is a pocket-sized introduction to the canyon’s most common plants and animals.
Lamb, Susan. Grand Canyon: The Vault of Heaven. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 1995. If you’re looking for an all-around book about Grand Canyon’s human and natural history that doubles as a souvenir, this gorgeously photographed, oversize book fits the bill.
Ranney, Wayne. Carving Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 2005. The author outlines historic theories about how the Colorado River carved Grand Canyon, then details his own ideas, reminding us that even with all the evidence, some elements remain enigmatic. Excellent illustrations and clear writing make this geological history easy for laypeople to understand.
Whitney, Stephen R. A Field Guide to the Grand Canyon. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1996. The guide describes many plants and animals of the canyon’s rims and gorge, with black-and-white and color illustrations for identification. The natural history introduction covers geology and the environment.
Hiking and Recreation
Abbot, Lon, and Terri Cook. Hiking the Grand Canyon’s Geology. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 2004. Introductory chapters explain canyon geology, followed by step-by-step geologic information for 18 hikes. Illustrations include helpful geologic diagrams and excellent black-and-white photography. Suggested day-hike destinations are offered, along with backpacking information.
Adkison, Ron. Hiking Grand Canyon National Park. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2011. A thorough hiking guide that includes detailed trail information, maps, trail profiles, and black-and-white photography. Day-hike destinations are suggested for most trails, but this 260-page guide is especially useful for backpackers, with information about campsites and water sources. Geology, natural history, and trail highlights make it a rich resource.
Annerino, John. Hiking the Grand Canyon. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 2006. Thousands of canyon hikers have consulted this small but mighty guide to the canyon’s maintained trails, unmaintained trails, and unofficial routes. Natural history information, safety tips, trail details, and other essentials help backpackers plan multiday trips.
Belknap, Buzz. Grand Canyon River Guide. Boulder City, NV: Westwater Books, 2007. This book’s 95 pages include a sequence of river maps showing rapids, topography detail, and sights. Details about history, geology, anthropology, plants, and animals are also included.
Lane, Brian. Hikernut’s Grand Canyon Companion. Sedona, AZ: A Sense of Nature, 2007. For anyone planning to day hike or backpack the canyon’s corridor trails—Bright Angel, South Kaibab, or North Kaibab—this 90-page book is an excellent resource. Detailed trail descriptions, maps, color photographs, and a gear list are particularly helpful for first-time backpackers or those new to the canyon. Trail profiles include not only distance and elevation, but also a key to the canyon’s geologic layers.
Lankford, Andrea. Biking the Grand Canyon Area. Boulder, CO: Westcliff, 2003. A former park ranger has written this guide to biking in and around the park, featuring everything from sedate paved roads to mountain bike adventures. She includes maps and trip-planning tips.
Martin, Tom. Day Hikes from the River. Flagstaff, AZ: Vishnu Temple Press, 2010. A hiking guide written from the perspective of the river, this book is indispensable for those on private boat trips. Information includes tips on where and how to tie in, campsites, topographic map sections, and detailed descriptions of 100 hikes.
Martin, Tom, and Duwain Whitis. Guide to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Flagstaff, AZ: Vishnu Temple Press, 2007. Campsites, rapids, natural history, and points of interest are included in this waterproof, mile-by-mile river guide. Maps include topographical detail, making this an excellent resource for river runners.
Thybony, Scott. The Official Guide to Hiking Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 2005. This easy-to-use and concise guide includes trail descriptions, topographic sections, and trail profiles for the park’s most popular trails. Cultural and natural history information and color photographs round out the 68-page book.
Various authors. Grand Canyon Trail Guides. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 1996–2006. These 26–46-page, pocket-size booklets cover individual trails, including Grandview, Hermit, North Kaibab, North and South Bass, and South Kaibab. The guides include cultural and natural history information along with trail descriptions and maps—real bargains for less than three bucks. A few are available as electronic downloads.
Williams, Tyler. Canyoneering Arizona. Flagstaff, AZ: Funhog Press, 2005. A guide to hiking, scrambling, climbing, and swimming canyons, coverage includes several Grand Canyon tributaries, including Paria Canyon, Soap Creek, Rider Canyon, Tanner Wash, and Diamond Creek.
Dimock, Brad. Sunk Without a Sound: The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde. Flagstaff, AZ: Fretwater Press, 2001. This fascinating book recounts one of the Grand Canyon’s most enigmatic river expeditions, the honeymoon voyage of the Hydes, who entered the canyon in 1928 and never returned.
Dutton, Clarence. Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001. The U of A has reprinted this classic, first published in 1882. Dutton, who named many of Grand Canyon’s temples, makes poetry of geology, and the illustrations by William Henry Holmes and Thomas Moran are breathtaking.
Fletcher, Colin. The Man Who Walked Through Time. New York: Vintage, 1989. A classic adventure narrative that describes Fletcher’s trek through the length of Grand Canyon. Inspiring and evocative, his account remains as fresh today as when it was written.
Ghiglieri, Michael, and Tom Martin. Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. Puma Press, 2001. These accounts of people who’ve met their deaths in Grand Canyon are not only fascinating but also useful in helping would-be canyoneers develop humility and preparedness.
Powell, John Wesley. The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons. New York: Penguin, 2003. A reprint of John Wesley’s classic report, first published in 1872, that combines adventure, geology, and anthropology with stirring accounts of canyon scenes.
Stegner, Wallace. Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West. New York: Penguin, 1992. One of the West’s most influential authors outlines John Wesley Powell’s life and sets the stage for contemporary environmental issues.
Black, Bronze. Grand Canyon Map and Guide. Flagstaff, AZ: Dragon Creek Publishing, 2008. An artistic map by a Colorado River guide and geologist chock-full of cultural and natural history, trail information, fun facts, and geologic details.
Kaibab National Forest. North Kaibab Ranger District. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, 2003. For those who plan on back-roads touring in the aspen and pine forests of the Kaibab Plateau, this map is essential, showing forest roads, road type, distances, trails, and wilderness boundaries.
Kaibab National Forest. Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts. U.S.Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, 2003. A helpful map for those planning on camping or touring in the forest south of the canyon. However, if your travels will be limited to multiuse trails close to the rim, you can probably make do with less detailed trail-specific maps available at the Tusayan Ranger Station.
Sky Terrain Trail Maps. Grand Canyon National Park. Boulder, CO: Sky Terrain, 2007. An easy-to-read 1:40,000 topographic map that includes trails and backcountry use areas from Desert View to Point Sublime. Trail descriptions and profiles are also included. It’s an excellent map for backpackers and hikers, although Bass and Thunder River Trails are off the map.
Trails Illustrated. Grand Canyon National Park #261. Evergreen, CO: National Geographic Society, 2010. A 1:35,000 topographic map that details central Grand Canyon, including trails, roads, and the most developed areas of the park.
USGS Quadrangles. United States Geological Survey. For an extended backcountry trip, the most detailed map (or maps) is the 7.5-minute 1:24,000 quadrangle matching your route. You can buy USGS quads in Flagstaff’s numerous outdoors stores, or order them directly from USGS (888/275-8747, http://store.usgs.gov).
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition