An evocative blend of history and nature writing that tells the story of Yellowstone’s evolving significance in American culture through the stories of ten iconic figures.
Yellowstone is America's premier national park. Today is often a byword for conservation, natural beauty, and a way for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. But it was not always this way. Wonderlandscape presents a new perspective on Yellowstone, the emotions various natural wonders and attractions evoke, and how this explains the park's relationship to America as a whole.
Whether it is artists or naturalists, entrepreneurs or pop-culture icons, each character in the story of Yellowstone ends up reflecting and redefining the park for the values of its era. For example, when Ernest Thompson Seton wanted to observe bears in 1897, his adventures highlighted the way the park transformed from a set of geological oddities to a wildlife sanctuary, reflecting a nation was concerned about disappearing populations of bison and other species. Subsequent eras added Rooseveltian masculinity, democratic patriotism, ecosystem science, and artistic inspiration as core Yellowstone hallmarks.
As the National Park system enters its second century, Wonderlandscape allows us to reflect on the values and heritage that Yellowstone alone has come to represent—how it will shape the America's relationship with her land for generations to come.
John Clayton is the author of The Cowboy Girl which was a finalist for a High Plains Book Award, as well as Small Town Bound, Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier, and Images of America: Red Lodge. Clayton writes for The Montana Quarterly and his book Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon, also published by Pegasus Books, was an Honored Book at the Montana Book Award. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
"The author has crafted a book that will appeal to national park aficionados and fans of Yellowstone National Park, and by breaking down the pivotal moments in bite-size chunks, he’s also written a terrific page-turning experience."
– Associated Press
"Energetic and insightful."
– The Washington Post
"A fine book about Yellowstone National Park. Wonderlandscape offers more than a few surprises. A great primer on Yellowstone history and a unique discussion of the park’s place in America, in both physical and cultural geography."
– Yellowstone Insider
"Clayton illuminates the history and development of Yellowstone. He enthusiastically tells the foundational stories of the magnificent park, which continues to capture the imagination of millions, and explains Yellowstone’s impact on how we manage our natural resources."
"A sensitive portrait of the iconic national park in terms of the American people's place in it. A thoughtful study of a celebrated natural wonder that has come to truly ‘embod[y] American ideals.’"
– Kirkus Reviews
"Clayton succeeds in presenting Yellowstone as a core American institution that shares an intimate relationship with Americans as a cultural concept and that acts as a mirror through which Americans have redefined themselves across generations."
– Publishers Weekly
"Clayton leads the reader on an enjoyable path to knowledge. ‘You didn’t have to be excited about geology or wildlife or frontier conditions to love Yellowstone,’ Clayton wrote. ‘You could come because you wanted to be a better citizen, take a civics lesson, become inspired about your country’s ideals. Yellowstone had been discovered and set aside by vacationing middle-class folks just like you, who had a spirit of patriotism just like yours.’ Think of that the next time you drive through the East Gate."
– The Cody Enterprise
"Offers new and interesting perspectives on more than 150 years of human interpretations of the world’s first national park. Clayton uses entertaining anecdotes, thorough research, and vivid storytelling to emphasize the ways imagery and language have been used to shape our impressions of Wonderland."