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Travels in Alaska

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  1,022 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
In the late 1800s, John Muir made several trips to the pristine, relatively unexplored territory of Alaska, irresistibly drawn to its awe-inspiring glaciers and its wild menagerie of bears, bald eagles, wolves, and whales. Half-poet and half-geologist, he recorded his experiences and reflections in Travels in Alaska, a work he was in the process of completing at the time o ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 23rd 2010 by Modern Library (first published 1915)
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Rex Fuller
Dec 06, 2014 Rex Fuller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little embarrassed to say this is the first of Muir's books I've read. After all, this is a man with plants, animals, mountains, a glacier, trails, a wilderness, and a forest named after him, is the founder of the Sierra Club, and a true original. He is part of, arguably the founder of, an era when environmentalism was innocent love of nature.

To share his pure joy of being in the Alaskan bush is more than worth the effort of working through his archaic style. The anecdotes of what he experienc
Even today Alaska is one of the few unspoilt wildernesses in the world. This vast part of America still has glaciers, bears, eagles and wolves, and still has the capability of filling people with awe at the scenery. In the late nineteenth century, John Muir made a number of trips to Alaska. At this point the land was barely explored, and was relatively untouched. Travelling by boat to a variety of places to camp, from there he climbs high onto the pristine glaciers.

We read of his encounters wit
Sep 22, 2015 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Muir is amazing. He's like a nature-based superhero. Hiking for days with no food other than a pocketful of grain? Fun! Falling into glacial crevasses? Sure! Fending off hypothermia by doing jumping jacks all night? Of course! Snow blindness? Bring it on! And he does it all with a smile and an eagerness to do it all again tomorrow.

Reading this book was delightful and exhausting. Muir's descriptions of the Alaskan scenery and surroundings were wonderful and exuberant. He used "Yosemitic" as
Mar 20, 2016 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought I would completely enjoy this book, but I didn' all. This was a little on the painful side to get through. Primarily, it dealt with what Alaska looks like which isn't the detail I enjoy reading. I grew up in Alaska, so I'm already well acquainted with what it looks like. I wanted something a little more personable and a little less factual.
Dec 03, 2009 Astin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I became aware of John Muir's extensive travels in Alaska while kayaking the Stikine River in 2008. I hadn't realized the founder of the Sierra Club had spent so much time in Southeast Alaska. When Ken Burn's 'National Parks' book/documentary came out last year, it further cemented my desire to dive into Muir's journals about his travels in Alaska. The coup di gras was reading 'The Only Kayak' by Kim Heacox. He further exposed me to Muir's writings that have inspired generations of intrepid adve ...more
Jason Mills
Mar 31, 2012 Jason Mills rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can read.
A remarkable man writing about remarkable places in remarkable prose. John Muir, a Scot, was an advocate for the Great Outdoors, instrumental in the setting up of National Parks in the US, passionate about exploring the wilds of nature and passionate too in describing them. We find him striding fearlessly off to study his beloved rivers of ice, not sheltering from storms but rushing out in them, not shirking from danger but relishing it. So mad are his exploits that even the local Indians shake ...more
Jan 14, 2012 Jocelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The great American naturalist describes three trips to Alaska -- 1878, 1880, and 1890. It seems his motto was "carpe diem," because he never wasted a moment in which he could possibly hike, observe, measure, or sketch. He also took substantial risks to see as much as he can. He canoed through ice fields; he weathered the Alaskan rain forest without Gore-Tex; he trekked 20+ miles a day over mountains and glaciers. I was kind of gratified when, towards the end of the memoir, he recounts first near ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
While this is on the whole not a gripping tale, John Muir's descriptions of his experiences exploring, charting, studying, and appreciating south-eastern Alaska's glaciers should be read by anyone contemplating cruising the Inland Passage. I wish I'd read it before our 2008 cruise. John Muir is clearly a character, with no fear, a complete adoration of nature and of God, and a heart for all the creatures of a place, including (but probably not especially) the people. Heading to Alaska again soon ...more
Oct 05, 2013 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While there can be no doubt about John Muir's expertise in his field I did not find myself enjoying this book. That doesn't mean it isn't worth reading, simply that it wasn't of interest to me. The author spends probably 80% of his time describing what he sees: the sights, sounds, and smells of every form of flora and fauna that exists along his path. He spends some small amount of time describing the people that he encounters but it is apparent that Mr. Muir thinks more of the natural world tha ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This certainly isn't a light read (it took me more than 2 weeks), but it is a good one. Reading about Muir's trip to Alaska while it was still relatively unknown is both interesting and exciting. He uses beautiful language to bring to life his surroundings.

There certainly is a lot of talk about glaciers and all of their grandeur. He really, really loved the glaciers. The amount of time dedicated to them is far more than necessary.

It's a good read but expect the book to drag. I recommend it if o
John Muir took me by surprise, though I really shouldn’t have been so shocked. For some reason, I assumed this book would be dense, erudite, and difficult to read – but Muir wouldn’t have been the father of modern American conservation if his writing had been inaccessible. Indeed, Travels in Alaska is surprisingly readable, lyrically and beautifully written. While there’s no plot underlying this rambling travelogue, I found it to be nonetheless a fascinating and meditative reading experience.

Lexi Byers
For Muir, Nature is the source of all that is spiritual in life. His writing emanates with the peace and beauty that he finds in the woods and wilderness. One reads his writings with a sense that somehow we are missing out on something precious in life by confining ourselves to what is known and safe.
Feb 02, 2008 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this book, a couple pages at a time, for about 10 years. It's so incredibly beautiful and is what inspired a trip to Alaska in 1999. I don't care about a plot or anything else when I read it...I just like to suck it in like the clean Alaskan air.
Dec 09, 2014 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When can I leave for Alaska?
Muir paints a picture of Alaska that fans the flames of adventure and exploration!
Feb 13, 2010 Clint rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
enchanting descriptions of a wonderful place. how could one not want to spend time in this wonderful country after reading Muir's description of Alaska. just fantastic writing and a joy to read.
Eric Orchard
May 07, 2015 Eric Orchard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is my favorite Muir book. It reads like a truly grand adventure combined with observation of nature at its most wild.
Mar 23, 2017 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A grand old adventure with John Muir, full of richly detailed descriptions of Alaskan nature and peoples lang syne.
"The Puget Sound an arm and many-fingered hand of the sea, reaching southward from the Straits of Juan de Fuca about a hundred miles into the heart of one of the noblest coniferous forests on the face of the globe. All its scenery is wonderful—broad river-like reaches sweeping in beautiful curves around bays and capes and jutting promontories, opening here and there into smooth, blue, lake-like expanses dotted with islands and feathered with tall, spiry evergreens, their beauty doub ...more
Todd Gerber
Feb 23, 2017 Todd Gerber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic book - the writing language and style is as beautiful as the landscapes and glaciers described.
Feb 21, 2017 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love his descriptions I feel like I'm there on the glacier with him. Love the little conversations he included with natives - having lived in the area it's cool to get a glimpse of days gone. If you love nature you must read this book! It will ignite your adventure side and you'll be hiking around everywhere you can.
Beautifully written, just not my thing.
DNF. When I found out I was receiving a copy of this I researched the author (as I always do when I don't know an author) and discovered that he is, apparently, famous for his nature writings. I instantly felt bad that I had never read any of his other works (and that I had never even heard of him), which made me feel like a naughty reader. I was highly anticipating getting my hands on this because (1) I love Alaska and (2) the book was so beautifully bound. When I received my copy I started rea ...more
May 16, 2013 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, read-2013
Done. Lovely as the writing was, it got repetitive, and I was bored at times. Then I realized that the book predated cheap and easy photography, and I wondered if anyone is writing naturalist books of the sort anymore and I felt a little bad.

Overall, I'm still glad I read it. Though the portraits of the Alaska tribes were sad and concerning. I truly hope the chiefs and others who spoke and welcomed Muir and his companions were self aware about their self effacement and humility. I have some hope
Feb 02, 2016 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All of us who love nature and our national park system owe a debt to Jphn Muir, who was relentless in his enthusiasm and defense of wilderness. If you are one of those people, I recommend reading at least portions of this book or some of his other writings to get a sense of who he was.

Travels in Alaska is a blow-by-blow account of two of his trips up the Alaska coast, in 1879 and 1880. Just reading a little, you quickly get a sense of how much he loves the natural world. He is effusive in his de
Marc Cappelletti
Oct 08, 2008 Marc Cappelletti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever been outside.
It's not so much Muir's prose which moves me most, although it is stirring, it's his mindset and the unbelievable level in which he was in tune with the world around him.

"Our good ship also seemed like a thing of life, its great iron heart beating on through calm and storm, a truly noble spectacle. But think of the hearts of these whales, beating warm against the sea, day and night, through dark and light, on and on for centuries; how red the blood must rush and gurgle in and out, bucketfuls, b
Feb 02, 2014 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Travels in Alaska -
It was a bit difficult to read due to the fact that he is so good at describing the places he went that I was to fall asleep; I was happy & at peace reading such beautiful adventures. John Muir is my idol, so I may be a bit biased, because I am bound to love everything he writes. Although, this is the first of his books I have read; mostly just studied his life in school, etc.
Muir exams Alaska and all of its bergs (ice bergs, glaciers) by hiring Native dwellers (Native Am
Aug 26, 2013 Fed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muir's writing is refreshing; his writing is so filled with adjectives and descriptions that his experience in Alaska can become alive to the readers.

While today many of us (me included) rely on cameras to collect our memories and the experiences of our journeys/travels, Muir used his senses and his memory to immortalize his experience and at last, pen and paper, to tell us the story of his adventure. Thus, his writing expresses all the feelings he sensed during this experience, instead of being
Jennifer Zartman
I picked up this book after reading several other Alaskan adventures, and I didn't enjoy it quite as much. Muir's disregard for safety considerations for himself and others shocked me--it's only by the grace of God that he lived to tell his tale. He possessed incredible luck as well as strength and stamina, and he oozes enthusiasm for glaciers, for plants, and for the wilderness. He describes the scenery with poetic zeal, and includes lists (sometimes lengthy) of every type of flower and tree th ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Forest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading John Muir is inspiring for sure, and appalling in many ways. Today, many people are concerned about having the best gear for their short visits to nature, and around the turn of the century, Muir was jovial to have any gear at all for his long journeys. Soaked, malnurished, and likely dehydrated, Muir explored some of the most unforgiving terrain in North America. Sleeping on devil's club, and prefering a night under Auroras to a warm cabin, Muir describes an insatiable appetite for unde ...more
Oct 01, 2009 Mj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Muir has transformed the way in which I interact with Nature as I have read his works in the last two years. His writing style is can be a bit difficult to get into. It is flowery and almost biblical in its descriptions, probably owing to the fact that he had memorized both the Old and New Testaments before his teen years. It is in language with that epic tone that he describes his appreciation and observations of the natural world, infusing his writing with inspired passages detailing his ...more
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John Muir (1838 – 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The S ...more
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“Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.” 40 likes
“Go where we will, all the world over, we seem to have been there before.” 6 likes
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