50 Great Nonfiction Books About Alaska

Alaska is awe-inspiring in its beauty and brutal with its vastness, terrain and weather; nonfiction books about Alaska are a great way to discover its splendor and adventure.

Despite all the progress in the 21st century, Alaska remains primitive. People still move there, not to tame the land but to learn to live in harmony with it. Survival means learning to deal with subzero temperatures, ferocious storms, grizzly bears, moose, wolves . . . and isolation. Working and playing in Alaska demands endurance of the body and spirit. Alaska remains the last great frontier where survivors are those who become one with nature and themselves.

The following are 50 great nonfiction books about the life and death adventures of the people who chose to live in one of the most beautiful and dangerous places on earth.

#1 – Alaska’s Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser

Jim Rearden

alasmas-wolf-man-nonfiction-books-about-alaskaBetween 1915 and 1955 Frank Glaser trekked across wilderness Alaska on foot, by wolf-dog team, and eventually, by airplane. He was a market hunter, trapper, roadhouse owner, professional dog team musher, and federal predator agent. A naturalist at heart, he learned from observation the life secrets of moose, caribou, foxes, wolverines, mountain sheep, grizzly bears, and wolves—especially wolves.

#2 – On the Edge of Nowhere

James Huntington, Lawrence Elliott

His father is a white trapper, his mother an Athabascan Indian who walks a thousand miles in winter to reunite with her family. Jim Huntington learns early how to survive on the land. Huntington is only seven when his mother dies, and he must care for his younger siblings. A courageous and inspiring man, Huntington hunts wolves, fights bears, survives close calls too numerous to mention, and becomes a championship sled-dog racer. One reviewer called it an “exciting and masterfully written account. . . .”

#3 – Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native’s Life Along the River

Sidney Huntington, Jim Rearden

“I owe Alaska. It gave me everything I have.” Says Sidney Huntington, son of an Athabaskan mother and white trader/trapper father. Growing up on the Koyukuk River in Alaska’s harsh Interior, he saw nearly eight decades of tragedies and adventures. At age five he cared for his younger brother and sister during two weeks of isolation. As a teenager, he fished with his father, nearly freezing to death several times. He watched an ice-filled flood sweep his family’s cabin and belongings away. As an adult he prospered as a trapper, boat builder, and fisherman.

This is a vivid tale of hardship and success in Alaska. It is also a tribute to the Athabaskan traditions and spiritual beliefs that enabled him and his ancestors to survive. Sidney’s brother, James Huntington, is author On The Edge of Nowhere.

#4 – Alaska Wolff Pack: The true story of an Alaskan family, whose dreams came true in spite of fires, floods, shootings, and an airplane crash

Margaret Wolff

Bob and Margaret Wolff spent 31 years together before Bob’s tragic accidental death. This is their story, and the story of the remarkable children, friends, and pets they accumulated along the way. It describes living in the Alaska bush amidst four legged neighbors, the closeness of sharing a one room cabin in a 40 square mile yard, gold mining and travel. There were fires, floods, crashes and death. They mostly lived from hand to mouth. Sometimes their material possessions were little more than the clothes on their backs. This is the story of love and adventure in the last great wilderness.

#5 – Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream

Jean Aspen

In 1992 Jean Aspen and her husband, Tom, left Arizona and took their young son to live in Alaska’s interior wilderness, building a log cabin, hunting for food, and letting the vast, harsh beauty of the Arctic close in around them. While Jean had faced Alaska’s wilderness before in a life altering experience she described in Arctic Daughter, this journey would be different. Dogged by sickness and hardships, cut off from the rest of the world, her family faced not only a test of endurance, but of its own well being and survival.

From a daily struggle against the elements to an encounter with a grizzly bear at arm’s length, from moments of breathtaking beauty and self realization to a harrowing, 600-mile river passage back to civilization, Arctic Son chronicles 14-remarkable months in the Alaskan wilderness. A portrait of courage and a heart pounding adventure story, it’s a poetic journey of discovery into what we value in life.

#6 – Arctic Daughter: A Wilderness Journey

Jean Aspen

Setting off in an overloaded canoe, they journeyed down the Yukon River and walked upstream into the remote Brooks Range to build a cabin and live off the land. She was 22, daughter of a famous female adventurer. He was her childhood sweetheart. Four years later, they emerged from the Alaskan wilds. Now in her 60s, Jean Aspen updates her spellbinding tale of adventure in a harsh and beautiful land for a new generation. Arctic Daughter is an extraordinary journey of self-discovery. This remarkable tale of survival and courage measures the value of dreams against the unforgiving realities of the natural world.

#7 – Twenty-Seven Years in Alaska: True Stories of Adventure in the Alaskan Wilderness

Jennifer Hellings

Twenty-Seven Years in Alaska is the story of one woman’s adventures in the remote northern wilderness. From canoe camping next to unnamed lakes, to kayaking in Alaska’s pristine waters, Hellings describes her encounters with the bears, moose and other wildlife. She and her partner David built a cabin on a remote piece of property, off the grid and accessible only by boat. The book is illustrated with photos she took during this time. The story is sometimes comic, and sometimes tragic, told with the voice of one who loves nature and the wilderness.

#8 – To Hell With Togetherness: The Story of an Alaskan Family Living Together on a Remote Homestead West of Anchorage–1957-1962

Jack Stout, Rita Stout

Jack and Rita Stout spent five years on the homestead on Point MacKenzie in Southcentral Alaska. The point is across four and a half miles of water from Anchorage, remote and without road access. They tied their kids to a packboard because baby packs weren’t available yet. Rita washed diapers on a scrub board and skinned moose and tanned their hides in her spare time. While their grandparents worried about Indians, their real danger was bears. “We thought we knew a lot about living, as most young people do,” Rita says, “but, gad, did we have a lot to learn. I can’t tell you why we did what we did, except once we got started, we were too stubborn to quit.”

#9 – The Wild Side of Alaska

Donna Morang

In 1968 Donna Morang traveled the Alcan Highway from Montana to Fairbanks, Alaska. It was the beginning of her lifelong dream to hunt and fish in the Last Frontier of Alaska.

The book takes the reader to the Brooks Range, north of the Arctic Circle, where she and her mate hunt for dall sheep, confront a grizzly bear that wants to eat them, and an angry moose trying to trample her hunting partner. They return to the Brooks Range to mine for gold. They live in the bush (Alaskan term for regions of the state not connected to civilization) where she bakes her own bread, has no electricity, no running water, and wolves try to eat her baby. Morang fishes in the Katmai and Resurrection Bay, nearly loses her life in the Delta River and hunts Alaskan brown bear on Hinchinbrook Island. It’s a daring adventure in The Wild Side of Alaska.

#10 – Impossible Beyond This Point: True Adventure Creating a Self-Sufficient Life in the Wilderness

Joel Horn, Virgil Horn, Marcella Horn

This is the story of one family’s struggle and triumph in creating a self-sufficient life in the wilderness. The Horn family moved from the city to the wilderness with three small boys and carved out a life in the middle of nowhere that has endured for nearly 50 years. With nearly 400 pages and over 100 photos, the book is must-read for anyone interested in getting away from it all.

#11 – Forty Years in the Wilderness

Dolly Faulkner

“The encounter was so sudden it took my breath away, and for a single moment I stood frozen, staring into the grizzly’s eyes. It was so close I could reach out and touch its shaggy bronze fur.” Dolly Faulkner has many heart-stopping moments in the Alaskan wilderness. But she is not lonely, as the awesome space and beauty of the mountains fill her with appreciation of all things of nature.

Faulkner moved to Alaska as a young woman who dreamed of living in the wilderness. She recounts her adventures while creating a homestead in the Kilbuck Mountains. Now a senior citizen, she still lives in the wilderness after the death of her husband.

#12 – Planes, Bears and the Turkey Bomber

James Oliver

With five small plane loads of supplies, this white collar family sets out to create a home in Alaska’s Bush. As one pilot told them, “The bush is filled with junk from those that didn’t make it.” They build a shelter from the land’s raw materials before winter and experience glorious and harrowing adventures as they create and operate a wilderness camp and sport fishing business in the bush.

#13 – A Deliberate Life: A Journey into the Alaskan Wilderness

Pamela Haskin

A Deliberate Life is the inspiring and often humorous story of Pamela Haskin and her years in the Alaskan Bush. She says, “I’m not trying to escape society as so many do who come to the Bush. I’m choosing a lifestyle! I want a life with adventure and purpose.” She willingly traded civilization for wood heat, no running water or indoor plumbing, no electricity, and no phone. Her lesson is that life can be more than ordinary.

#14 – Alaska! Up North and to the Left

Steven Swaks

Steven, a newly licensed commercial pilot eager to build up flight time, and Lydia, a physician looking to practice in an under-served area, decided to leave sunny Southern California for the rigors of the Alaskan wild. Together, they learned to cope with culture shock, the relentless cold, pipes freezing, rural medicine, and flying small planes in subarctic weather. This nonfiction book about Alaska is an epic tale of discoveries, love and inspiration among the Yupik Eskimo culture in Bethel, an isolated roadless town in Southwest Alaska.

#15 – Sleetmute: A True Story of Alaska

Stan Resnicoff

In New York City. 1968, New York City native Resnicoff applied to VISTA as a possible deferment from the Army and Vietnam. He requested an assignment in Hawaii and wound up in Sleetmute, Alaska. The remote Eskimo village had no streets, no electricity, no phones, no signs, no law. It was 50 degrees below zero and getting colder. Resnicoffe introduces the reader to a world few have ever seen. A gifted storyteller, he shows a place and its people through the eyes of a 24-year-old embarking on the experience of a lifetime. The book has been called “by turns hilarious, endearing and . . . moving”.

#16 – Elbow Room: A Tale of Tenacity on Kodiak Island, Alaska

D. D. Fisher

On a misty remote island in the Gulf of Alaska, a young couple struggles to establish roots on the rugged mountainous terrain of a small fishing community. From humorous fishing excursions and terrifying bear encounters to blinding blizzards and quirky characters, they come face-to-face with the unpredictable nature and learn the value of friendship, survival, and solitude in a picturesque but harsh life by the sea. The book is full of adventures, challenges, and Alaskan lifestyle.

#17 – Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness

Bonnie Rose Ward

This book traces a young couple’s adventurous move from the Ohio suburbs to a remote island on ill-tempered Skilak Lake. As Sam and Bonnie adapt to a life without running water, electricity and telephones, the harsh, desolate environment tests their courage. Facing sub-freezing temperatures, unfriendly bears, and cabin fever, the Wards find strength in new friends, each other, and the awe-inspiring beauty of “the last frontier.” Just when they finally settle in, a freak accident proves to be the ultimate test of their resolve. It’s a thought-provoking tale of one couple’s faith in God and dedication to each other in the awe-inspiring and unforgiving Alaska wilderness.

#18 – Sam O. White, Alaskan: Tales of a Legendary Wildlife Agent and Bush Pilot

Jim Rearden

Sam O. White was a six-foot-tall, 200-pound former Maine lumberjack and guide. From 1922, for half a century he traveled wild Alaska by foot, with pack horses, dog teams, canoe, riverboat, and airplane. He helped map the Territory. He trapped fur. In 1927, he became a game warden. The frontier trappers considered him a joke, but he quickly taught them to respect conservation laws.

Frustrated by trying to patrol thousands of square miles by dog team, boat, and on foot, White bought a plane. He startled remote trappers and others by suddenly arriving from the sky. In 1941, he became Chief Pilot for Wien Airlines. For the next 20 years White was an Alaskan bush pilot, admired for his flying skill and superior delivery service. His scores of friends respected him for his integrity and principles.

#19 – Rescue at the Top of the World: The True Story of the Most Daring Arctic Rescue in History

Shawn Shallow

In 1897, early winter and frigid temperatures brought pack ice that filled the waters north of the Bering Strait. Three North American whaling ships escaped but 300 men were stranded, facing death from starvation and exposure. Three U.S. Coast Guard officers and two missionaries volunteered to travel over 1,500 miles through the Arctic winter to reach the shipwrecked whalers. It was a perilous four-month journey through mountainous territory and barren sub-zero landscapes never before traversed. The shipwrecked men endured freezing temperatures, malnutrition, and scurvy before falling into lawlessness. This extraordinary chronicle of hardship and heroism takes the reader to the heart of one of America’s greatest maritime disasters and the greatest Arctic rescue story in history.

#20 – Alaska Bound: One man’s dream…One woman’s nightmare!

Tammy Jones

Alaska Bound takes the reader on a first-person journey of fear, determination and triumph as Tom Jones’ dream to experience Alaska lures him and his wife, Tammy, from the coastal town of Raymond, Washington to the sun baked slopes of northeastern Oregon and finally to the Alaskan wilderness. The author goes from bank teller to builder. We experience with her the pristine environment where she courageously takes on challenges that are surprising and inspiring, making this one of the best nonfiction books about Alaska.

#21 – Becoming Frozen: Memoir of a First Year in Alaska

Jill Homer

After taking a job at a weekly newspaper in Homer, Alaska, Jill Homer and her partner forge a new life in a town where artists and sport fishermen drive the local economy, grizzly bears roam through back yards, and social outings feature death-defying ski trips or kayaking rough seas in freezing rain. As Jill adapts to Homer’s idiosyncrasies, she finds her own hobby — riding a bike on snow. Despite having little athletic background, Jill signs up for a 100-mile race across frozen wilderness. As the harsh Alaskan winter sets in, she launches a tenacious training routine that takes her far out of her comfort zone. Here, under the Northern Lights, battling exhaustion and extreme cold, Jill discovers the heart of Alaska.

#22 – On the Edge of Survival: A Shipwreck, a Raging Storm, and the Harrowing Alaskan Rescue That Became a Legend

Spike Walker

The author’s books inspired the hit TV show, The Deadliest Catch. Here, he tells the true story of a Malaysian cargo ship which ran aground off the coast of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on December 8, 2004, leading to one of the most incredible Coast Guard rescue missions of all time. Two Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopters lifted off immediately from Air Station Kodiak during the driving storm in an effort to rescue the ship’s 18 crew members before it broke apart and sank. Nine of the crew were lifted from the ship and dropped aboard a nearby Coast Guard cutter. But during attempts to save the last eight crew members, one of the Jayhawks was engulfed by a rogue wave that broke over the bow of the ship. When its engines flamed out from ingesting water, the Jayhawk crashed into the sea. The crew members who had been lifted into the aircraft, along with the chopper’s three-man crew, plunged into the bitterly cold ocean where hypothermia began to set in immediately. Walker interviewed all the survivors to create a gripping account of survival and death in the brutal Alaskan waters.

#23 – Coming Back Alive: The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska’s High Seas

Spike Walker

When the fishing vessel La Conte sank suddenly at night in 100-mph winds and record 90-foot seas during a savage storm in January 1998, her five crewmen were left to drift without a life raft in the freezing Alaskan waters. One hundred fifty miles away, in Sitka, Alaska, an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifted off from America’s most remote Coast Guard base in the hopes of tracking down an anonymous Mayday signal. As the crew of the La Conte began to die one by one, those sworn to watch over them risked everything to pull off the rescue of the century.

Meticulously researched through hundreds of hours of interviews with the survivors, this is a detailed account of the La Conte’s final voyage and the relationship between Alaskan fishermen and the search and rescue crews who risk their lives to save them.

#24 – The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness

John Meade Haines

In this wilderness classic, the quintessential Alaskan frontiersman relates his experiences from the 1940s to the 1980s when he lived as a homesteader off and on near Richardson, in central Alaska. His writing captures the raw experience of living in the woods, along creeks and rivers, through the seasons of the year. As a homesteader, Haines lived off the land, raising his own vegetables, hunting game, and trapping marten, lynx, beaver, and fox. It’s a world of long journeys by foot, isolation and contemplation. It’s a life stripped to essentials of work, food, and sleep and a continuous test of character, spirit, and physical stamina. Survival comes with toughness and luck, and knowing the brutal wilderness.

#25 – Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer

In April 1992 a young Christopher Johnson McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, a moose hunter found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Krakauer became an obsessed detective as he gathered and reconstructed the facts of McCandless’ short life. He solves a compelling mystery and analyzes the profound pull of the American wilderness and the allure of high-risk activities to certain type of young men. Krakauer has been praised for his storytelling ability in this powerful true story about Alaska that is mesmerizing and heartbreaking,

#26 – 81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska’s Frozen Wilderness

Brian Murphy

Just before Christmas in 1943, five Army pilots left Alaska’s Ladd Field on a test flight. Only one returned. Leon Crane, a city kid from Philadelphia had little more than a parachute on his back when he bailed from his B-24 Liberator before it crashed into the Arctic. Alone in subzero temperatures, Crane managed to stay alive in the dead of the Yukon winter for nearly 12 weeks and, amazingly, walked out of the ordeal intact. This book recounts the story of Crane’s remarkable saga. In a drama of immense resolve with moments of incredible luck, Crane learned to survive in the Yukon’s unforgiving landscape. His is a tale of the human capacity to endure extreme conditions and intense loneliness and emerge the stronger for it.

#27 – Wild Men, Wild Alaska: Finding What Lies Beyond the Limits

Rocky McElveen

Professional hunting and fishing guide and outfitter Rocky McElveen tells the stories of his own adventures as well as those of some of his well-known clients. The book takes readers directly into the Alaskan bush, and shares the intense challenges of a majestic wilderness that pushes a man to his limits.

#28 – Wild Men, Wild Alaska II: The Survival of the Fittest

Rocky McElveen

This nonfiction book about Alaska is the sequel to Wild Men, Wild Alaska. It maintains the same excitement, intrigue and humor. It’s a volume full of more adventures from plane crashes, grizzly charges and blizzards, to fathers, sons, young men & women coming of age & competing in their quest to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. It includes his recounting of a grizzly hunt with Evangelist Franklin Graham and a caribou hunt with NFL Super Bowl Quarterback Jeff Hostetler.

#29 – The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness

James Campbell

This book was the inspiration for “The Last Alaskans,” the eight-part documentary series on Animal Planet. Esquire called it one of “the greatest life-or-death-tales ever told.” Campbell provides an insider account of a family’s nomadic life in the Arctic wilderness which “stands as a kind of testament to the rough beauty of improbably wild dreams” (Men’s Journal).

Hundreds of hardy people have tried to carve a living in the Alaskan bush, but few have succeeded as consistently as Heimo Korth. Originally from Wisconsin, Korth traveled to the Arctic wilderness in his 20s. Now, more than three decades later, he lives with his wife and two daughters 200 miles from civilization. It’s a sustainable, nomadic life bounded by the migrating caribou, the dangers of swollen rivers, and the forces of nature. The book has been called “awe inspiring and memorable.”

#30 – 8,000 Miles Across Alaska: A Runner’s Journeys on the Iditarod Trail

Jill Homer

Tim Hewitt is a 59-year-old Pittsburgh lawyer and amateur runner who participates in the Iditarod Invitational. The race challenges cyclists, skiers and runners to complete the 1,000 mile trail under their own power. Hewitt is the only person to win the Invitational more than three times.
Jill Homer chronicles Hewitt’s adventures across Alaska — the harrowing weather conditions, breathtaking scenery, kindness of strangers, humorous misadventures, humbling setbacks and heroic victories. This the story of one man battling for survival as he races toward victory in one of the harshest and most beautiful wildernesses on the planet.

#31 – Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime

Jill Homer

Homer, a Salt Lake City native, moved to Alaska and became a writer. She was not an athlete. But now she found herself cold, frightened and more than 100 miles from the nearest outpost as she pushed forward on the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational bicycle race. She pondered the reasons she signed up for this as she made her way through the wind, mountains, tundra and a faint trail. This book recounts the inspirational journey of an unlikely endurance athlete locked in one of the most difficult wilderness races in the world.

#32 – Arctic Glass: Six Years of Adventure in Alaska and Beyond

Jill Homer

This is a collection of 33 essays from the popular outdoor lifestyle blog “Jill Outside.” In 2005, Jill Homer launched her online journal to document daily adventures from the perspective of a small-town journalist who recently moved to the Last Frontier. Jill’s early accounts of cycling misadventures gained international readers who were curious about the strange notion of “snow biking.” The blog quickly took on a life of its own and Jill gradually became an endurance athlete who crossed 350 miles of Alaska’s frozen wilderness under her own power. She went on to complete a 2,700-mile mountain bike race, and eventually took up ultra-marathon-distance trail running.

The essays chronicle her adventures as she takes on harsh challenges in the frozen wilderness of Alaska, the Utah desert, and the Himalayas.

#33 – From a Bush Wing: Notes of an Alaska Wildlife Trooper

Stephen Santiago Reynolds

Reynolds relates his flying experiences as an Alaska Wildlife Trooper—and those of other officers—while stationed throughout one of the most dangerous environments in the world. Whether tragic, humorous, or surrounding the simple beauty of flight, there is something that jumps out in many of these chapters—how not to fly or abuse the privilege of flying. If you are a pilot, you might see some familiar forms—or, better yet, you might think you are looking into a mirror. “If you learn how to improve your own safety record from one or more of these events, then this effort will have been worthwhile,” says the author.

#34 – My Year As An Alaskan Bush Pilot

Robert M. Brantner

After the war in Iraq, and the lagging economy of the early 90’s, Bob Brantner knew that if he wanted to be a pilot, he would have to be willing to go farther than he ever envisioned. He would have to go to the last frontier. The year Bob spent as a bush pilot,gave him the chance to share a glimpse of the legendary pilots of rural Alaska and their close-knit community. This is a first-hand account of the challenging profession where a wrong decision could be the difference between life and death.

#35 – Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Tom Kizzia

When Papa Pilgrim, his wife, and 15 children appeared in the Alaska frontier outpost of McCarthy, their neighbors saw them as a shining example of the homespun Christian ideal. But behind the family’s proud piety and beautiful old-timey music lay Pilgrim’s dark past: his strange connection to the Kennedy assassination and a trail of chaos that followed him from Dallas and New Mexico. Pilgrim soon sparked a confrontation with the National Park Service, fiercely dividing the community over where a citizen’s rights end and the government’s power begins. As the battle grew more intense, the turmoil in his brood made it increasingly difficult to tell whether his children were messianic followers or hostages in desperate need of rescue.

Alaska journalist Tom Kizzia captures an epic clash between environmentalists and pioneers, triggered by a mesmerizing sociopath who held a town and a family captive.

#36 – Race Across Alaska: First Woman to Win the Iditarod Tells Her Story

Libby Riddles, Tim Jones

Libby Riddles loves sled dogs, racing, the outdoors and competition. We see the harshness and majesty of Alaska through her eyes as she describes the drama, hardships and danger of The Iditarod, The Last Great Race. The reader comes away appreciating the toughness of body and spirit, the knowledge of the wilderness and persistence it took to become the first woman to win The Iditarod. The memoir is a behind-the-scenes look at a determined and intelligent musher making moment-to-moment decisions while coming within inches from mortal danger for herself and her dogs.

#37 – First Wilderness: My Quest in the Territory of Alaska

Sam Keith

After attending college on the GI Bill, World War II Marine veteran Sam Keith sought adventure in Alaska. He arrived on Kodiak Island 1952 and took a job as a laborer on the Adak Navy base. He befriended a group of men there, including Dick Proenneke, who shared a love of the outdoors, hard work, and self-reliance. Keith explored the wilds of South Central Alaska while working on the Navy base, and later as a Stream Guard and Enforcement Patrolman. In his hunting and fishing trips with Dick and his friends, Keith found almost everything he sought. Sam Keith passed away in 2003. But in 2013, his son-in-law, children’s book author/illustrator Brian Lies, discovered in their garage a book manuscript. Written in 1974, First Wilderness is the story of Keith’s own experiences, at times harrowing, funny, and fascinating. It’s a compelling and poignant memoir of search and discovery.

#38 – Two Years in the Klondike and Alaskan Gold-fields (1898)

William Haskell

This true narrative published in 1898 is the basis for The Discovery Channel miniseries “Klondike.” The book revolves around the friendship of adventurers Bill Haskell and Byron Epstein as they travel Northwest during the Klondike Gold Rush. Along the way they survive in harsh conditions, unpredictable weather and desperate, sometimes dangerous men. They are supported by mill owner Belinda Mulrooney and aspiring writer Jack London.

#39 – Traveler’s Guide to Alaskan Camping: Alaska and Yukon Camping With RV or Tent

Mike Church, Terri Church

This guide contains detailed routes and advice for exploring Alaska and northwestern Canada for RV and tent campers. It covers in detail the Alaskan Highway, routes throughout the Yukon and Alaska, and the ferry system in southeastern Alaska. Close to 500 campgrounds throughout the region are listed with photos, descriptions of amenities, meticulous maps, and contact information for each; campgrounds suitable for large RVs are also identified. There’s information for a safe trip, such as border crossings, budget planning, vehicle preparation or renting an RV, appropriate clothing, road conditions, and possible wildlife encounters. There’s also information on hiking, mountain biking, boating, rafting, kayaking, and viewing wildlife for each destination.

#40 – Guide to the Alaska Highway

Ron Dalby

Traveling across the great northern expanses from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska, the 1,500-mile Alaska Highway remains one of the greatest driving adventures of all time. This guide has information on gas prices, where to camp, how to prepare your vehicle for the journey, and driving tips. There’s also information on where to spot wildlife, some favorite fishing spots, and important destinations. This guide will help travelers create a safe, enjoyable drive through some of the most scenic and rugged landscape on the planet.

#41 – Moon Anchorage, Denali & the Kenai Peninsula

Don Pitcher

Seasoned travel writer Don Pitcher shares the best ways to experience Anchorage, Denali, and the Kenai Peninsula, from Anchorage Museum’s fascinating exhibits to the natural splendor of Denali National Park to Resurrection Bay’s breathtaking wildlife tours. Pitcher leads travelers to the highlights of the three areas, offering tips on how to make an Anchorage stay enjoyable and affordable, what to bring on a trip to Denali, and which of the Kenai Peninsula’s many outdoor recreational opportunities shouldn’t be missed. Included is information on taking a boat trip to Portage Glacier, stepping into the past in old mining town Hope, and watching for belugas and bore tides on Turnagain Arm, this book gives travelers the tools they need for a more personal and memorable experience.

#42 – Fodor’s Alaska 2015


Fodor’s correspondents highlight the best of Alaska, including Anchorage, Denali National Park, Mendenhall Glacier, and cruises along the Inside Passage. Local experts vet every recommendation to ensure you make the most of your time, whether it’s your first trip or your fifth. Included are must-see attractions from Juneau to Mt. McKinley; hotels for every budget; best restaurants; tips on when to go and ways to save; features on bears; whales and Native crafts; as well as insider perspectives from local experts.

#43 – Alaska By Cruise Ship

Anne Vipond, Mel-Lynda Anderson

This is the go-to guide if you’re planning an Alaskan cruise. The 8th revised edition includes more than 400 color photographs and maps. The book is packed with details of both the Inside Passage and Glacier cruises, from Seattle to Fairbanks. . Two giant color pull-out maps with a mile-by-mile references help you track progress during your cruise. Also included are special sections on glaciers, native culture and wildlife with a full-page whale-watching map.

#44 – Lonely Planet Alaska (Travel Guide)

Jim DuFresne , Catherine Bodry, Robert Kelly

This book gathers the most relevant and up-to-date travel advice on what to see, what to skip, and some new discoveries. Included are: full-color maps and images; highlights and itineraries to help you tailor your trip to your own personal needs and interests; insider tips to save you time and money and help you get around like a local; essential info such as hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices; and honest reviews for all budgets – including eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, shopping, and hidden gems that most guidebooks miss. One of the highlights is the month-by-month listing of festivals. The book covers Anchorage, Juneau, Denali, Cordova, Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula, the Bush, Kodiak, Katmai, the Aleutian Islands, Fairbanks, Homer, Wrangell, Seward, Sitka, Ketchikan, and more.

#45 – Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska

Sherry Simpson

At least 31,000 brown bears, 100,000 black bears, and 3,500 polar bears live in Alaska. Nearly every aspect of Alaskan society reflects their presence, from hunting to tourism marketing to wildlife management to urban planning. This collection of essays by Simpson, a long-time Alaskan, is about Alaskan bears in both wild and urban spaces. Sherry Simpson’s prose conveys a wealth of information and insight on biology, behavior, feeding, mating, and social structure of bears.

Simpson crafts an extended meditation on why we are so drawn to bears and why they continue to engage our imaginations, populate indigenous mythologies, and help define our essential visions of wilderness.

#46 – Coming into the Country

John McPhee

This is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative. The book is divided into three principal segments that deal with a total wilderness, urban Alaska, and life in the remoteness of the bush.

McPhee acquaints the reader with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the outlook of a young Athapaskan chief, and tales of the strength of settlers—ordinary people compelled by extraordinary dreams. Coming into the Country unites a vast region of America with one of America’s finest literary craftsmen. It’s been called “still the best book on Alaska.”

#47 – Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska

Kim Heacox

In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, writer/photographer Heacox, working in the tradition of Abbey, McPhee, and Thoreau, discovers an Alaska reborn from beneath a massive glacier, where flowers emerge from boulders, moose swim fjords, and bears cross crevasses with Homeric resolve. In such a place, Heacox finds that people are reborn too, and their lives begin anew with incredible journeys, epiphanies, and successes—all in an America free of crass commercialism and over-development.

#48 – Two in the Far North

Margaret E Murie, Olaus Johan Murie, Terry Tempest Williams

two-in-the-far-north-nonfiction-books-about-alaskaThis enduring story of life, adventure, and love in Alaska was written by a woman who embraced the remote Alaskan wilderness and became one of its strongest advocates. In this moving testimonial to the preservation of the Arctic wilderness, Mardy Murie writes about growing up in Fairbanks, becoming the first female graduate of the University of Alaska, and marrying noted biologist Olaus J. Murie. So begins her lifelong journey in Alaska and on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where along with her husband and others, she founded The Wilderness Society. Murie’s work as one of the earliest female voices for the wilderness movement earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

#49 – Arctic Dreams

Barry Lopez

In this award-winning classic, Lopez explores the ways the human imagination engages with a landscape at once barren and beautiful, perilous and alluring, and austere yet teeming with vibrant life.

The Arctic has for centuries been a destination for most explorers—a place of dreams, fears, and awe-inspiring spectacle.

Based on Lopez’s years spent traveling with Eskimo hunting parties and scientific expeditions alike, the book investigates the unique terrain of the human mind, thrown into relief against the vastness of the tundra and the frozen ocean. Eye-opening and profoundly moving, it’s an appreciation of how wilderness challenges and inspires us.

Arctic Dreams is a moving account of Barry Lopez’s 25 years in Glacier Bay, Alaska, which he calls “the last wild shore, 900 miles north of Seattle and 900 years in the past.”

#50 – Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic

Jennifer Niven

In September 1921, four young men and Ada Blackjack, a small, 25-year-old Eskimo woman, ventured deep into the Arctic in a secret attempt to colonize desolate Wrangel Island for Great Britain. Two years later, Blackjack emerged as the sole survivor of this ambitious expedition. This young, unskilled woman conquered the seemingly unconquerable north and survived all alone after her male companions had perished.

Following her return to civilization, the international press proclaimed her the female Robinson Crusoe. Newspaper stories were primarily fabrications because Blackjack refused to speak to anyone about her two nightmarish years in the Arctic. The author has created an absorbing history of Blackjack, using the wealth of first-hand resources, including Blackjack’s never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished diaries from other primary characters, and interviews with Blackjack’s surviving son.

Other Books of Interest:

Rescue at the Top of the World: The True Story of the Most Daring Arctic Rescue in History, Shawn Shallow

Fatal North: Murder and Survival on the First North Pole Expedition, Bruce Henderson

The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk, Jennifer Niven

Alaska Travel Guide: Top Attractions, Hotels, Food Places, Shopping Streets, and Everything You Need to Know, JB’s Travel Guides

Johnny’s Girl: A Daughter’s Memoir of Growing Up In Alaska’s Underworld, Kim Rich

One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, Sam Keith, author, Richard Proenneke, photographer

Alaska Travel Guide: Sightseeing, Hotel, Restaurant & Shopping Highlights, Laura Dawson

If you’ve liked our collection of great nonfiction books about Alaska, you may also be interested in Top 10 Books About Africa.