Editor's note: “Essential Yellowstone: A Landscape of Memory and Wonder” is a finalist in the Creative Nonfiction category of the 2020 High Plains Book Awards.
In this storybook sampler, Michael J. Yochim takes readers through Yellowstone National Park in ways most people will never experience. His powerful, entertaining style inspires wanderlust as he describes his remarkable journey through the park through the lens of his own personal experiences.
Drawn to Yellowstone from an early age, Yochim spent half of his life living, working, hiking camping, and cross-country skiing in the park — much of it as a ranger with the National Park Service. These experiences have provided a rich collection of encounters with the Yellowstone landscape and its inhabitants.
Yochim’s accounts of his experiences in Yellowstone’s wilderness provide insight into many of Yellowstone’s core meanings, from its value as a preserve for some of the continent’s most fearsome animals to its value as a treasured retreat. Each story is complemented by photographs, stories of friendship and eloquently written prose which have a way of romanticizing the simplest of adventures such as dinner in a canoe or the sounds of a rushing stream after the snowmelt.
The narrative forms a captivating kaleidoscope of landscape, wildlife, natural events, and experiences across the dramatic landscapes of Yellowstone National Park. As Yochim says, “Whether we immerse ourselves within that tapestry or admire it from afar, we see and feel the natural, eternal power in it.”
Michelle Williams is the executive director of the Billings Depot and an avid reader with over one thousand books in her personal library.
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