Seven outdoors books to fill your soul

The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko

This is a thrilling true story of the fastest boat ride down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the historic flood of 1983. As federal officials work anxiously to avoid severe dam failure after the largest El Niño event on record, a trio of river guides take the event as an opportunity to attempt a speedy race across 277 miles of whitewater. Though forbidden to do so, they launched their hand-built wooden boat into the river, just below the Glen Canyon Dam’s base, surrendering to the natural world. Written with passion and grit, The Emerald Mile takes its readers on an epic ride — literally.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Called a “controversial environmental classic,” Silent Spring is credited for spurring revolutionary changes in laws during the 1960s that affect air, water and land. Carson writes with zeal and sincere concern for the planet’s future, telling true stories of how DDT damaged wildlife, bees, pets and agriculture in numerous communities.

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold

Regarded as some of the best nature writing in history, A Sound County Almanac is composed with immeasurable passion for the natural world. With memoir-style stories that span a 40-year time period, the book includes recollections of time spent in rugged areas of Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon and beyond. Throughout the book, the author confronts philosophical ideas related to wildlife conservation. A local twist? Leopold is a key figure in New Mexico; he founded the Wilderness Society and started the state’s first wilderness area, Gila National Forest.

The Last Unicorn: A Search for one of Earth’s Rarest Creatures by William deBuys

Is it a saola or a mythical unicorn? This endangered animal in Southeast Asia’s Laos seems kindred, both in spirit and appearance, to the fabled unicorn. The Last Unicorn dives into the joys and sorrows of discovery, as a team of scientists in 1992 find remains of an unusual animal with long horns — the first large land mammal discovered in 50 years. Detailing treks along treacherous terrain into central Laos’ remote landscapes, the book reveals the commitment to one’s expedition.

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

This classic follows Abbey’s work as a park ranger at Utah’s Arches National Monument for three seasons. Abbey, in search of a raw experience with nature in its purest form, reflects on the the area’s remaining wild landscapes, at a time when industrialization and development continue to move at rapid speed.

Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors

In this memoir, Connors writes about the time he worked alone with his dog in one of the nation’s last fire lookouts in the Gila Wilderness. As the former Wall Street Journal editor attends to his new job, he wrestles with feelings of isolation and purpose, as well as the mixed emotions that come with the responsibility to protect a wide stretch of fire-prone land. This book is sure to give all readers a heightened appreciation for New Mexico’s wild, sometimes unforgiving landscapes.

If Mountains Die by John Nichols

Compiled from a series of essays, Taos’ Nichols pulls readers into the heart of Northern New Mexico. Often poetic and sometimes funny, his writing reveals how one’s life can be transformed by days spent in an adobe farmhouse with access to untouched spaces. With tales of trout fishing along primitive waterways, Nichols details difficulties of managing irrigation systems and the consequences human life has on Earth.

Olivia Harlow