Bookworm of Edwards hosts National Geographic writer, National Parks expert Jon Waterman |

Bookworm of Edwards hosts National Geographic writer, National Parks expert Jon Waterman

Jon Waterman grew up in suburban Boston and found a love of the national parks when he visited Denali in Alaska at age 19.
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Few people have spent as much time exploring the wilder places of our planet as Jon Waterman. His newest book about our national parks gives us a glimpse into the beauty of these places, and a warning of the danger they’re facing. 

Join Jon Waterman at the Bookworm of Edwards Tuesday night for a discussion and celebration of our national parks. Waterman’s new book, “Atlas of the National Parks,” is the first complete illustrated atlas of the United States’ 60 national parks, as well as 29 newly protected places.

Jon Waterman has always loved nature, despite the fact that he hasn’t always lived in it.

“I grew up in suburban Boston but the natural world proved a powerful draw for me as a teenager,” Waterman said. “This eventually drew me to wilder places.”

This quest eventually took him to Alaska, where he stepped into his first national park.

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“I visited Denali with my explorer scout troop as a 19 year old,” Waterman said. “It’s still my favorite park because of its wealth of wildlife and its extensive, rugged wilderness. I ended up coming back multiple times, as a tourist, a guide, and eventually a park ranger.”

He continued to visit any parks he could reach: the Great Smokey Mountains to see the wildflowers blooming in spring, Canyonlands to look at ancestral Puebloan rock art, and Yosemite, to rock climb. 

“I began to have this insatiable desire to share the beauty, fragility, and joy inherent in these expeditions that I was taking,” Waterman said. “This led to writing, for both magazines and eventually for my own books.”

National Geographic editors approached Waterman for the book because they knew he had tons of life experience writing and exploring.
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His magazine writing hit its stride with National Geographic’s News Service in the early 1980s.

“I just kept continually pitching bigger and bigger projects, and finally caught their attention in 2006 when they agreed to fund a trip to the Arctic,” Waterman said. “Two more expedition grants followed, along with a lot of writing work to fill in the gaps.”

So when the National Geographic books department decided to tackle a new daunting project, they knew exactly who to call.

“They wanted to create a never before produced volume that would map and chronicle all the parks in an atlas rich with maps and photos,” Waterman said. “They also wanted to include a narrative that explained the creation of the parks, and the science of the land that they sit on. Since they knew I had spent many collective years of my life in the parks, they awarded me the contract.”

The result is an unprecedented book that you have to see to believe. But Waterman hopes that its impact goes well beyond how good it would look on your coffee table.

“Although I don’t believe that people take the national parks for granted, I hope that my book will be a clarion call to properly fund the parks, and to take climate change seriously, because the parks are now endangered by multiple environmental and man made threats,” Waterman said. “The challenge of rescuing the parks has given me a mission above and beyond simply celebrating them.”

If you go …

What: Jon Waterman

When: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6 p.m.

Where: Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards

Cost: $10 ticket, includes appetizers

More information: Call 970-926-7323 or visit

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