The Essential Utah Reading List: Green & Yampa Rivers

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From stories of modern-day exploration and comprehensive field guides to all things dinosaurs, this essential reading list dives deep into the history and natural environment of Utah’s Green River & Dinosaur National Monument region. If you’re preparing for a Green River or Yampa rafting trip, you’ll surely want to put a few of these books on your must-read list.

Green & Yampa River Reading

The Essential Utah Reading List: Green & Yampa Rivers

A Symbol of Wilderness: Echo Park and the American Conservation Movement | By Mark W.T. Harvey

The classic story of the hard-fought battle in the 1950s to prevent the government from damming Utah’s Green River, which would have flooded the Green River Valley and threatened Dinosaur National Monument.

Run, River, Run: A Naturalist’s Journey Down One of the Great Rivers of the West | By Ann Zwinger

An account of travels on the author’s beloved Green River, which runs from western Wyoming to eastern Utah before joining the Colorado. Zwinger describes the natural and cultural history of this emblematic slice of the Western landscape.

Colorado’s Yampa River: Free Flowing & Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green | By Pat Tierney, Photography by John Fielder 

After decades of running a commercial rafting company and a couple hundred Yampa trips later, Pat Tierney teamed up with renowned nature photographer John Fielder to publish the ultimate Yampa River book.

Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River | By Ellen Meloy

Meloy, a champion of the Green River and expert navigator of its twists and turns, describes a summer in Desolation Canyon with her river ranger husband, interweaving her own often humorous experiences with natural and human history.

Books for Dinosaur Lovers

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World | By Steve Brusatte 

Published in 2018, this book from an up-and-coming young scientist has already been hailed the “ultimate dinosaur biography.”

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages | By Dr. Thomas R. Holtz Jr.

Compiled by one of the world’s foremost experts on dinosaurs, this book covers all things dinosaur, including brief excerpts on all 800-plus named species.

The News About Dinosaurs| By Patricia Lauber

A well-illustrated introduction to recent scientific findings on the dinosaur, written for readers 9 to 12.

Field Guides

Moon Utah | By W. C. McRae and Judy Jewell 

This informative book from Moon Travel Guides features detailed maps, strategic itineraries, insider travel tips and activity ideas, as well as background on the culture, history, and wildlife of Utah.

River Runners’ Guide to Utah and Adjacent Areas | By Gary C. Nichols 

A guidebook to the navigable rivers of Utah and areas along its borders by a veteran guide.

The Essential Utah Reading List: Green & Yampa Rivers

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States | By Peter Alden 

A compact photo guide to the wildflowers, trees, mosses, butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Naturalist’s Guide to Canyon Country | By David Williams, Illustrated by Gloria Brown

A illustrated field guide to the high desert of the Colorado Plateau and the nine national parks of the region, including Dinosaur National Monument.

A Traveler’s Guide to the Geology of the Colorado Plateau | By Donald L. Baars

An extensive survey of the geology of the Four Corners region.

Also Recommended…

Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region | By Sally Cole

A look at the ancient cultures of the Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Eastern Shoshoni, and Ute peoples, with a special emphasis on specific regions including Dinosaur National Monument, the canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers, and the canyonlands of Utah.

The Essential Utah Reading List: Green & Yampa Rivers

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons | By John Wesley Powell

Originally published in 1875, this is the classic tale of adventure and exploration of the rivers and canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau.

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West | By Wallace Stegner

This is the classic account of explorer John Wesley Powell as presented by the great Wallace Stegner, first published in 1954. It’s both the stuff of high adventure and an insightful look at the politics of development in the American West.

First Through Grand Canyon | By Michael Ghiglieri 

For yet another take on the John Wesley Powell expedition of 1869, Ghiglieri turns to the secret journals and letters of the crew who explored the rivers of the Colorado Plateau alongside Powell. In this evocative read he pieces together a more complete picture of what really happened on that historic first descent.

The Bonehunters’ Revenge | By David Rains Wallace

In this riveting chronicle of a major scientific feud, Wallace details how two rival paleontologists used the New York Herald to wage a dirty war on each other’s findings, professionalism, personal integrity and, finally, fundamental intelligence.

Centennial | By James Michener

Spanning 136 million years of Colorado history from prehistory to present, this well-researched, epic novel from New York Times Bestselling Author James Michener was written in celebration of America’s bicentennial.

The Outlaw Trail: A History of Butch Cassidy and His Wild Bunch | By Charles Kelly 

Read about the exploits of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, including the places they frequented along the Outlaw Trail, like their remote hideouts along the Green and Yampa Rivers in the heart of Dinosaur National Monument.


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