Best Books: Discover Alaska and the Yukon
From informative travel guides and stories of exploration to compelling tributes to the region’s wild places, this essential reading list dives deep into the history, natural environment and lure of Alaska and the Yukon Territory. If you’re planning a trip to this remarkable and rugged part of the world, you’ll want to put a few of these books on your must-read list.
Portraits of Alaska and the Yukon
Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land | By Walter R. Borneman
This wide-ranging history of Alaska captures the personalities, bravura and challenges of the state, detailing the days of the fur traders and explorers, the Gold Rush, the railroad expansion and current controversies.
Coming into the Country | By John McPhee
A superb introduction to the state, author John McPhee’s lyrical portrait of Alaska blends history, issues and interesting facts with sketches of frontier life and unforgettable characters.
The Reader’s Companion to Alaska | By Alan Ryan
A volume of 28 eyewitness reports focused on the Alaskan wilderness over the last 100 years, including pieces by John Muir, Barry Lopez and Jon Krakauer. The long excerpts are presented geographically with separate sections on the Inside Passage, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Denali.
Travels in Alaska | By John Muir
In this beloved classic, John Muir writes of his early explorations of Alaska’s wilderness, including a wide-eyed account of the discovery of Glacier Bay.
Alaskan Travels: Far Flung Tales of Love and Adventure | By Edward Hoagland
In his early fifties, famed writer Edward Hoagland set off on a 500-mile adventure through one of the last wild frontiers. In this “American masterpiece” he documents his grand journey through Alaska and writes about the people he met along the way.
A Republic of Rivers: Three Centuries of Nature Writing from Alaska and the Yukon | By John A. Murray (Editor)
Through well-known voices like Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard and John Muir, as well as the viewpoint’s of various natives of the region, John Murray has put together the first comprehensive anthology of nature writing on Alaska and the Yukon.
Best Tales of the Yukon | By Robert Service
This book of poems vividly and humorously chronicles the Klondike Gold Rush and the colorful characters of the Yukon Territory. A must-read if you love adventure and poetry.
Klondike Tales | By Jack London
This collection of wilderness tales by Jack London, famed American writer, journalist and playwright, are hewn from the author’s personal experiences in the Klondike.
Travel Resources & Field Guides
Insight Guides Alaska | By Insight Guides
With hundreds of photos and maps, plus “best of” Alaska recommendations, this essential travel guide also features essays by well-regarded authors on nature, history, people and culture.
The Nature of Alaska | By James Kavanagh
This clearly presented field guide features more than 300 color illustrations of Alaska’s mammals, birds, seashore life, fish, trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
Alaska Wildlife: Through the Seasons | By Tom Walker
Photographer and wilderness guide, Tom Walker, depicts the best of Alaskan wildlife through beautiful photos and insightful captions.
Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska | By Kate Wynne
Designed for use in the field, this indispensable guide features large color photographs, key information and detailed range maps for all the whales, seals and other marine creatures found near the shores of Alaska and Russia.
Other Interesting Reads
John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire | By Kim Heacox
Kim Heacox, a popular lecturer and writer based in Gustavus near Glacier Bay, expertly tells the life story of John Muir – and his passion for glaciers – in this dual biography of the man and of Alaska.
I Married the Klondike | By Laura Beatrice Berton
A Canadian classic, Laura Berton’s vivid memoir recounts her life as a teacher in the Yukon mining town of Dawson City during the Gold Rush and beyond (she stayed 25 years). It’s a story that’s been anthologized, serialized and televised.
The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the American West and the Yukon Gold Rush | By Howard Blum
Through the eyes of a trio of fascinating historical characters – a Pinkerton detective, a confidence man and a prospector-turned tycoon – Edgar Award-winning writer Howard Blum explores the dreams that drove men to the Alaskan Frontier, the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush.