National Parks and Recreation Month

Hi Shelf Life Readers! Happy National Parks and Recreation month!

I am writing to you from the Jackson County Public Library but if you tried to find me during the summer months from 2012 to 2015, you would’ve had to look deep in the wilderness of either the Sumter or Chattahoochee National Forest, where I worked as a guide for four seasons on the Chattooga river. The Chattooga acts as the border between Georgia and South Carolina and has the Sumter National Forest on the South Carolina side, the Chattahoochee National Forest on the Georgia side, while originating in the Nantahala National Forest in Cashiers, North Carolina. 

These three forests surrounding the Chattooga river provide beautiful scenery whether you are hiking, fishing, or boating. Protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Chattooga is particularly pristine and untouched. For about 60 miles, it is illegal to do any sort of construction within a quarter of a mile from the river banks.  With the exception of a couple of trails that were paved before the river became a Wild and Scenic River in 1974, the only other trails leading down to the river are more than a quarter mile long, and unpaved. Read about the Chattooga’s tumultuous history in books like Sound Wormy by Andrew Gennett and Chattooga by John Lane.

Sound Wormy: Memoir of Andrew Gennett, Lumberman
Chattooga: Descending into the Myth of Deliverance River
Hiking Trails of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness






Books like Hiking Trails of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness will also inspire you to seek out the trails that will take you to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in our area.

Dick’s Creek Falls, Chattooga River. Photo credit: Whetstone Photography

One of my favorite waterfalls is Dick’s Creek Falls, and you can get there with just a short drive outside of Clayton, Georgia. Follow this link for detailed directions. Keep an eye out for the red-spotted newt!

Red Spotted Newt

Technically speaking, the above locations are National Forests, not National Parks, but I figured you guys wouldn’t mind a new waterfall to explore. If you (like I was before I started writing this blog) are wondering what the difference is between a National Park and a National Forest, it’s that Parks are more focused on maintaining and preserving the landscape exactly as it is, while the National Forests focus more on managing the use of the natural resources. So in a National Park, there are more regulations such as no dogs, no logging, no mining, etc. whereas in a National Forest, these activities are allowed, yet they are monitored and managed by Forest Rangers.

National Parks often have more visitors than National Forests, and the nearest National Park to us is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, at the Fontana Regional Library System, we have tons of resources for people who want to learn more about GSMNP so come check out some books and set out on your next adventure! Check out Stephen’s blog from June for a comprehensive list of books on our nearest National Park, with links to our catalog for easy hold-placing. One book that’s been on my “to-read” list is Cemeteries of the Smokies, a book with a lot of information on all of the cemeteries hidden within GSMNP.

I can’t end this blog without mentioning the Grand Canyon National Park. In November of 2013, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend a month inside the Grand Canyon, rafting during the day and camping out at night. I’ll be surprised if it will ever lose its rank as my number one favorite National Park. Seeing the Milky Way Galaxy every night and crashing through enormous waves during the day is something I will never forget. Here are a few photos from my trip:

View from the Nankoweap Granaries built in A.D. 1100
The view from the Colorado River

We have a lot of books in our catalog that tell the stories of explorers setting out down the Colorado River, but if you are to only read one, I recommend John Wesley Powell’s personal journal of the first documented descent down the Colorado.

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons
Down the Great Unknown


Canyon solitude : a woman’s solo river journey through Grand Canyon / Patricia C. McCairen. 
John Wesley Powell paved the way for the future explorers of the wild and raging Colorado River, whose stories are also well worth a read:

Path of beauty : photographic adventures in the Grand Canyon / Christopher Brown.

Grand Canyon country : its majesty and its lore / by Seymour L. Fishbein.

Downcanyon : a naturalist explores the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon / Ann Haymond Zwinger.
The Grand Canyon : true stories of life below the rim / collected and edited by Sean O’Reilly, James O’Reilly, and Larry Habegger.

Corridors of time : 1,700,000,000 years of earth at Grand Canyon / panoramic photography and text by Ron Redfern ; illustrations by Gary Hincks ; introduction by Carl Sagan.