The National Outdoor Book Awards 2022

The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award program.  It is a non-profit, educational program, sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University.  

The purpose of the awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding writing and publishing.  Each fall in early November, the NOBA Foundation announces the winners of the ten categories making up the program, including History, Literature, Children, Nature, Natural History, Instructional, Adventure Guidebook, Nature Guidebook, Design, and Outdoor Classic. 


Explore this year's winners of the National Outdoor Book Awards!





Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher by Marina Richie

"In this beautifully rendered book, Marina Richie sets out on a halcyon quest, an obsession actually, to find and observe a nesting pair of kingfishers.  But first she must find the nest. ...This is superb nature writing:  engrossing, enlightening and illuminating – and heralds the introduction of a new, powerful voice of the genre."



Outdoor Literature (Fiction)


Breathless: A Thriller by Amy McCulloch

"This spine-tingling novel will transport you to the icy slopes of Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world.  It is no coincidence that author Amy McCulloch so expertly captures the thrill and dangers of high altitude climbing in this book.  She is a Himalayan climber, having summited Manaslu, the youngest Canadian woman to do so.  There are very few well written and realistic works of fiction on climbing and this gripping thriller is clearly one."



Outdoor Literature (Nonfiction)


Was it Worth It?  A Wilderness Warrior’s Long Trail Home by Doug Peacock Headwaters: The Adventures, Obsession, and Evolution of a Fly Fisherman  by Dylan Tomine

On Was It Worth It?: "The first thing you notice about Doug Peacock’s writing is his devil-may-care attitude.  His experience in Vietnam certainly plays a role in that temperament.  After returning from military duty there in the 1960’s, all he wanted was to spend time alone in the wilds of the West. ...You’ll find him always questioning, always asking whether it was worth it.  Was it?  The answer lies somewhere in this engrossing read."

On Headwaters: "Dylan Tomine is no slouch as a writer.  He has a light hearted approach and this book is certain to entertain whether you fish or not.  ...Read it for its excellent writing and Tomine’s eloquent plea to strive toward a better future."



History / Biography


Life Lived Wild:  Adventures at the Edge of the Map by Rick Ridgeway Written in the Snows:  Across Time on Skis in the Pacific Northwest by Lowell Skoog

On Life Lived Wild: "Rick Ridgeway is one of the great adventurers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. ... His writings span the globe: North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Antarctica.  Joining him are a who’s who of outdoor personalities.  But it’s not solely about adventure.  It’s also about the special times with family and friends.  All in all, Ridgeway’s book is a perfect testament to a life lived wild."

On Written In the Snows: "Over 20 years in the making comes one outstanding work on ski history.  Lowell Skoog covers the northwest scene like none other: Alpine, Nordic, backcountry and even fastest ascents and descents.  But the book is not just a recounting of history; Skoog immerses himself into that history by organizing long forgotten ski races and retracing historic mountain traverses.  Highly readable and filled with fascinating stories of the past, this is a fine addition to the literature of skiing."



Natural History Literature


A Thousand Trails Home: Living with Caribou by Seth Kantner

"If you’ve been following past winners in this category, you will find this a very different kind of book.  It includes some science, of course, but this is natural history from a personal perspective.  Through a series of narratives, author Kantner unveils a life that revolves around the wilds of Northwest Arctic and the twice yearly migration of caribou. ... It’s a book filled with wild passion and love of place that will keep you absorbed well into the night."


Silver Medalist:

The Treeline:  The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence

"Ben Rawlence is captivated with the taiga, the boreal forest, that band of hardy trees which encircle the globe’s northern regions. ... For an illuminating look at this vital biome, follow along as Rawlence journeys from place to place, conversing with scientists and spending time with the people who live in the boreal forest and experience it firsthand."



Nature & the Environment


Seeing the Silence: The Beauty of the World’s Most Quiet Places by Pete McBride

"When photographer Pete McBride uses the word “silence,” he means the absence of man-made sounds.  The silence of nature, he writes, can range from “pin drop quiet one second and wonderfully loud the next.” ... McBride has travelled the globe, seeking out those rare hide-aways of nature’s silence, and in this fine work, he shares what he has found through stories and breathtaking photography."


Silver Medalist:

The Skies Above: Storm Clouds, Blood Moons, and Other Everyday Phenomena  by Dennis Mersereau

"This is the sort of book that you can page through time and time again and always find something new and fascinating.  The title says it all.  It is about the skies and what you see when you look up.  The author guides you through each of the seasons and the science behind thunderstorms, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, rainbows, and much more.  It’s a first-rate reference book, perfect for any outdoor lover’s library."




Children's Category


Alaska is for the Birds!  Fourteen Favorite Feathered Friends by Susan Ewing

"This is a wonderful surprise for children in the 5 to 8 year old group.  And the best thing?  A child doesn’t have to live in Alaska to enjoy it!  The 14 birds covered within its pages are found nearly everywhere. ... The luminous artwork fits perfectly with the poems.  There’s a bonus too. The end of the book has complete descriptions of each of the birds, a helpful reference for moms or dads when an inquiring mind wants to know more."



Design & Artistic Merit


Our National Monuments: America’s Hidden Gems by QT Luong Drawn to Birds: A Naturalist’s Sketchbook by Jenny deFouw Geuder

On Our National Monuments: "The artistry of renowned photographer QT Luong is on full display in this stunning large format work.  Luong navigates us to 27 national monuments. ... What a sumptuous treat this book is – but it is also a reminder that these areas need protectors.  To emphasize its conservation message, Luong provides a voice for 27 conservation organizations each associated with one of the monuments covered in the book."

On Drawn to Birds: "This charming book is a splendid melding of art and text.  Open it and the book immediately radiates appeal, drawing you in with a profusion of colorful watercolors.  The watercolors are supplemented with text etched in delicate calligraphy, easy on the eyes and in perfect harmony with the artwork."




Classic Category


Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber by Steve Roper

"First published in 1994 and now in its seventh printing, Camp 4 is clearly a classic work on rock climbing.  It covers the golden age of Yosemite climbing, that quarter century period from 1947 to 1971.  Author Steve Roper was there in the 1960’s, a part of a curious mix of personalities and egos who were associated with the ground breaking climbs that marked the period.  'I strode among giants,' he writes, 'though at the time I felt more like a misfit associating with oddballs.'  Much could have been written about Yosemite’s history during this period, yet Roper has wisely compressed it into just the right amount for a fascinating read."



Nature Guides


Common Bees of Eastern North America by Olivia Messinger Carril and Joseph S. Wilson

"Let’s face it.  Identifying bees isn’t the easiest task in the world, but this new, innovative work is here to help.  What sets this guide apart from others is the use of striking, high resolution color photographs which have been overlaid with key identifying marks.  It even includes silhouettes which depict the actual size of the bee.  Covering 125 of the most commonly seen species in the eastern US and Canada, this fine guide raises the standards of insect identification."


Silver Medalist:

Beetles of Western North America by Arthur V. Evans

"If any guidebook on insects could be called a scientist’s magnum opus, this is it.  It is the only comprehensive, fully color guide to the beetles of the western US and Canada.  The statistics are almost mind numbing: 640 pages long, filled with more than 1,500 photos and covering 1,428 species.  You can’t go wrong with this guide.  For western beetles, it’s the go-to guide."



Outdoor Adventure Guides

Winner (Guidebook):

Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Guide by James Kaiser

"If you are planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, this is your guide.  With a rugged cover and sized perfectly for carrying in a pack, it is designed to be used and taken wherever you go.  Intelligently designed with color throughout, it has a bit of everything about the park with introductory segments on geology, ecology, wildlife, and history.  That’s followed by places to see and helpful suggestions on camping, hiking and backpacking. "


Winner (Instructional):

How to Suffer Outside: A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Backpacking by Diana Helmuth

"The writing style in this how-to book forges a different path from other works on backpacking.  You might say it is cheeky – witty, smart, and often opinionated.  If you’ve been dreaming about giving backpacking a try and need a little nudge, author Diana Helmuth is there to give that nudge.  “Yeah,” she writes, “We’re going to do it.  We’re going to get you out there.”  (One note: some of the language may be objectionable to some readers.)"




To see this year's judges and learn more about the award, visit the National Outdoor Book Award website