Some of my fondest childhood memories are walking, riding my bike or roller skating to my neighborhood park. Marcus Park was my personal paradise where I played basketball, softball, kickball, hopscotch and even chess. My best friend and I shared secrets on the swings and made up stories while leisurely pushing the merry-go-round. This little plot of public land was an essential part of my everyday life and helped form my love of the great outdoors.
Through books, I was able to explore public lands beyond my neighborhood. When I was a young child, Make Way for Ducklings took me to the Public Garden in Boston and Brighty of the Grand Canyon instilled a lifelong desire to explore that great National Park. As an adult, I laughed my way through Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and started planning my own trek on the Appalachian Trail.
Of course, movie directors have discovered the dramatic potential of public lands such as the cliff-hanging Mount Rushmore scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
Plus, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Roy Neary’s (Richard Dreyfuss) UFO obsession leads him to an isolated mountaintop, aka Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the nation’s first national monument.
Saturday, September 30 is National Public Lands Day, a day to volunteer and help restore or improve your neighborhood, city, state, or national park, forest, monument or shoreline. And after you have finished volunteering how about discovering other publicly owned lands and waterways in these books and movies.
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean (Blackfoot River, MT)
The Black Stallion’s Ghost by Walter Farley (Florida Everglades)
Canyon Sacrifice (A National Park Mystery) by Scott Graham (The Grand Canyon, AZ)
Free Fire by C.J. Box (Yellowstone National Park, ID MT WY)
Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers (Alaskan Backcountry)
Longarm on the Yellowstone by Tabor Evans (Yellowstone National Park, ID MT WY)
Old Faithful Murder (Yellowstone Mystery Series) by Raymond Kieft (Yellowstone National Park, WY)
Temple Grove by Scott Elliott Olympic National Park, WA)
When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle (The Channel Islands off the California Coast)
All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West by David Gessner (Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument)
Almost Anywhere: Road Trip Ruminations on Love, Nature, National Parks, and Nonsense by Krista Schyler
Civilizing American Cities by Frederick Law Olmsted
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey (The Moab Desert)
Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor & Misadventure from America’s National Parks by Jim Burnett
Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America’s National Parks by Mark Woods
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley (Devil’s Tower, WY, the Grand Canyon, AZ and the Petrified Forest, AZ)
The Yosemite by John Muir
127 Hours (Canyonlands National Park, UT)
3:10 to Yuma (2007) (Santa Fe National Forest, NM)
A River Runs Through It (The Gallatin National Forest, MT)
All the President’s Men (The National Mall, DC)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Zion National Park, UT)
Dances with Wolves (Badlands National Park, SD)
E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial (Redwood National Park, CA)
The Hunger Games (Pisgah National Forest, NC)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Arches National Park, UT)
Into the Wild (Denali National Park, AK)
No Country for Old Men (Big Bend National Park, TX)
Planet of the Apes (1967) (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, AZ/UT)
The Presidio (Golden Gate National Recreation Area, CA)
Saboteur (The Statue of Liberty National Monument, NY)
Shane (Grand Teton National Park, WY)
The Shining (Glacier National Park)
Shutter Island (Acadia National Park)
Stagecoach (1936) (Monument Valley, UT)
Star Trek V, The Final Frontier (Yosemite National Park, CA)
Star Wars: A New Hope (Death Valley National Park, CA)
Thelma & Louise (Canyonlands National Park, UT)
Wild (Crater Lake National Park, OR)
What books or movies would you add to this list?
Susan is Creative Coordinator at HPB Corporate in Dallas TX.