View Full Version : Guide's & books on Canada & USA
Can anyone recommend some really good guide books, maps and inspiring works on travelling in the Greater North American wilderness.
By land or Water it doesn't matter.
Also any great Ideas for areas to head too?
Any help is appreciated.
James, Such a big subject! Serious maps can be acquired from the U.S. Geological Survey. Most local backpacking stores and the various parks will have a good selection to purchase. I'll have to dig out the appropriate website. Canadian maps are available from Canada Map Office, 130 Bentley Street Nepean, Ontario Canada K1A 0E9. The major parks, ie. Grand Canyon,Yellowstone etc. will have their own dedicated websites. There are private concessionaires within or outside the parks that provide various services also; raft trips down the Colorado river, horsecamping etc. Every park will have some sort of visitor center with local maps and enough natural history books to fill a library. You have national parks, monuments,state parks and federal lands under different administrations. Your time of visit can make a world of difference. Yellowstone or Yosemite are bumper to bumper lines of tourists during peak months. During the winter they are almost empty. The south rim ( Arizona) of the Grand Canyon is also trying to see past people's heads. Enter from the North Rim( Utah) and it's virtually empty ( and you get to visit the Canyonlands of Utha.) You should list which areas of interest you'd like to visit. It's not unreasonable to experience several in one trip if well planned.
I was thinking about this more yesterday evening and as you said it's a hugh subject.
I have been looking at Glacier national park & the Grand Tetons as they've been recommended to me but I am planning a trip from maybe 6 to 8 weeks and it's at least a year or two down the road from now. But I don't want some where swamped with tourists. For this reason I am thinking of a Spring/Autumn trip.
I have primerily been looking at the Northern states and Canada and have contacted all the local and international tourist boards etc. But I really what to get the most of this time. I don't want to rush it either.
I have also never been or seen a Desert so really is not an easy task.
This will be I hope a trip of live time but I don't want to orgainise it to death.
Wow what a task.
PS. Can anyone else recommend a place they have been that I might look at?
Personally I love Montana in general. I had a few weeks working there about 10 years back. I'd love to find a way to move out there permanently.
My mother has relatives in Montana not far from Yellowstone Park so thats were alot of my recommendations have come from and considering the size of the state and proximity to other areas it is high on my list.
But I wanted to look at as many options as possible.
I grew up in Billings Montana, which is about 100 miles from Yellowstone and about 475 miles from Glacier.
The Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness area is on the Northeast corner of Yellowstone and near Red Lodge Montana. It is my wilderness area. I spent many many happy hours on various trails in both the warmer months and winter months.
I would highly recommend you look at the Red Lodge website
Yellowstone is a very busy park in July/August. My favorite time is September as school has started and family vacations are over. Early spring (May) is a good time too, but many of the trails are still snow covered and the weather can be anything from hot to below zero. Most of the animals have their young and are down from the high elevations so this is something to consider. July/August in the Park is hot and buggy. September early October is usually nice but some of the facilities are closing and you can get caught in snow if too late in the season. Most of the animals are high up but start to move down.
The Park is not wilderness in any way around the "attractions" or roads but can be a wonderful place anyway. Getting even a km off the road on a trail opens up many wonderful places. The thermal basins are simply a wonder and a must do if you go to the Park. While I would not spend more than 3 days doing the Parks attractions 3-5 days in the backcountry, especially the south end of the Park, would be a grand trip. Spending time in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in either Wyoming or Montana in the Beartooths is also a great way to spend some time.
There are some decent guides for dayhikes in the Beartooths
Definately look at Gary Ferguson's "Walking down the Wild" This one is a walk from outside the Park around the park and is both a good read and introduces some of the issues of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
His "Rocky Mountain Walks" and other of his forest, wolf, etc books may be of interest too.
Montana is a wonder, around the Park or around Glacier/Flathead, but it is too huge to cover. For 5-6 weeks I would find a couple of places to spend the time in. I absolutely love the Yellowstone area but I spend my youth in the Beartooths and we now go to Yellowstone about every other year. Glacier/Waterton is very different terrain but is also just beautiful.
There are plenty of guides for the Parks, and they are great places, but they are not wilderness and you are restricted from many bushcraft techniques (like cutting wood and fires). The Wilderness areas of the Absaroka-Beartooth is grand. You can drive to 10,000 feet and wander across huge expanses of granite on Plateaus studded with mountain lakes. This is my favorite thing to do. Spend a few days in the Park as you will never forget it, but walk a good bit in the areas around Cooke City Montana or along the Chief Joseph highway in Wyoming.
Get an official Montana highway map
I also recommend these State topo map books
These are great for planning purposes and you can then order the maps needed.
Red Lodge Office Suppy carries many maps, call or write them ahead if you decide to go around the Park.
Remember distances in Montana are huge. It can take 1.5 to 2 days to drive across the State East-West, a good portion of one day to drive North-South.
Also, summer months most of the time now, fires are verboten in Montana and other States national forests, wilderness areas and Parks. Montana has been experiencing a dry cycle for the past many years. So plan on stoves only. Last summer (August) I was home and the State had over 33 major fires...Rangers would probably shoot you on site if they saw you start a campfire. :wink:
I stayed in a campsite about a 30 minute drive from Banff a few years ago.
I can't remember the name, but if you ever get a chance I would recommend getting out to this part of the world, the people were great and the enviroment that you are in is great as well.
Whilst there I did a climb, at the time it was called Chinamans peak, I believe that this may have been changed to Hang Li's peak now, as this is more politically correct (it gets everywhere after a while, even the wilderness).
The view was spectacular, even when we were looking down at the sight seers in a helicopter (brought things home how far you really are up). :biggthump
Thanks guys I am afraid i had not seen your replies but your input is appreciated.
There are some many options that I had to narrow it down and after speaking to a few friends that have been recently to Canada and in particular Alberta and the rockies I think I am sold on that being my first choice.
I have been intouch with the local tourist borders and a couple of guiding companies and I have finally come up with a rough itineary. As follows
Hike the West coast trail in BC then travel to Whitehorse and canoe up the Yukon to Dawson city then from there head north over the Artic Circle. Then back down to Jasper and Banff.
This is my current idea but it all depends on Time and money but as it's a year or so away yet I should have time with the money (once I stop buying kit that is)
I would gladly welcome any further comments or suggestion.
Hi James, If you're looking for a bit of inspiration and some good ideas on where to go in the States, you might be interested in, 'Dances With Marmots' at http://www.danceswithmarmots.com
It's an account of a five month 4300km solo hike I did from Mexico up into Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail, up through the wilderness areas of California, Oregon, and Washington - popping out in the Okanogan Forest in Canada BC. (It's also a look at the US wilderness through the eyes of a Kiwi - New Zealander ;)
The whole account is in (chaptered) book form, with pic's, easy to read, and should be of interest to anyone who enjoys outdoor adventure with a few smiles along the way!
Cheers, George. Oamaru, NZ
Bit of an Edit here - since I posted this in 2004, 'Dances With Marmots' has been published in paperback (more info here) Dances With Marmots (http://www.danceswithmarmots.com)
You can still read the first chapter, but I've disabled the the rest to give the book a chance! :)