Arches. Bryce Canyon. Canyonlands. Capitol Reef. Zion.
These are Utah's five national parks, and they're all described in "Visiting Our Western National Parks," by George P. Perkins of Mineral, Calif.In a Deseret News interview, Perkins said he believes this is one of the few books that has been submitted to the interpretive staff of each park for editing. The volume describes 25 parks in the West - but not Alaska.
He said he visited all of these parks except Channel Islands National Park in California.
It does not attempt to detail national monuments, national historic sites or national recreation areas.
So far, among Utah's national parks only Bryce Canyon and Zion carry the book, which is packed with color photographs, maps and information about trails. Other parks may decide to sell it in their shops.
"Canyonlands said there were a few mistakes in the book and they wanted them corrected." When these are corrected, Perkins said, "they'll reconsider the book."
As this is the first edition and he believes he will update it every year or two, the mistakes can be corrected. The section about Canyonlands mentions that Horseshoe Canyon is 45 miles from Green River, Wyo., while it's actually in the vicinity of Green River, Emery County.
Topics include campgrounds, lodgings, whom to call or write for reservations, adjacent facilities and the author's comments.
For Arches, Perkins' comments include: "There are 500 identifiable arches in the park. While the desert ecology may seem barren to the average visitor, it literally teams with plant and animal life that has adapted to the harsh conditions."
Perkins told the Deseret News, "I think Salt Lake City is unique in the fact that they are to our Western parks what Chicago is to the railroads." The comment about Chicago may reflect the fact that he was born in that city. However, he graduated from the University of Colorado.
"It's really a hub. Over half of our Western national parks are within a day's drive of Salt Lake City."
Great Basin National Park, the country's newest park, is in eastern Nevada, but no farther from Salt Lake City than many Utah parks, he said.
"The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is within a day's drive. Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton are within a day's drive." So are Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain national parks, he said.
To the west within that day's drive are Yosemite and Lassen Volcanic National Park, where he lives. He admitted that is a long drive but said it can be done in a day.
Why should anybody visit such a place, anyway? "In order to qualify as a national park, it has to have some unique status of its own, for some reason, either because of its geology or because of Indian ruins or some beauty."
Perkins said the Park Service provides interpretive programs in all its parks, ranging from movies to talks around the campfire. So visiting national parks is not only enjoyable, but educational, he said.
Perkins' book sells for $12.95 and can be obtained by writing him at Box 129, Mineral, CA 96063.