What’s on Our Desert Bookshelf? Part III: 20 Guidebooks

We get asked quite often, “How do you find all the places you write about?” Here’s our secret. It’s all about guidebooks.

Some armchair experts may try to tell you how challenging it is to get to a particular site, but if you have the right information about how to get there and what to see you may find that it wasn’t difficult at all. Difficulty, after all, is relative.

Of course, going there is just half the fun because one’s vehicle, equipment and skill set plays a pivotal role in how successful any trip is.

Although some information can be found on the internet and YouTube, there’s nothing quite like having a trusted dog-ear book with accurate information at your fingertips. And if it has the history of the area, all the better.

Many places are remote and cellphone coverage is often nonexistent. Having a good guidebook with you eliminates that necessity. Never rely on your phone GPS or dash navigator to get you to where you want to go if you’re going off-roading.

Remember, the desert is not your friend and may have deadly consequences. Always be prepared for emergencies.

We’re not certain if the pandemic has inspired more wanderlust for wide-open spaces, if some guidebooks have suddenly become rare collector items or if reliable guides are becoming scarce because of limited supply and overwhelming demand but we’ve noticed a dramatic increase in some online prices from booksellers.

For instance, guides that we purchased for under $30 just a few years ago are going for an astounding triple digit price! As amazon affiliates, you will see some examples in our links below but we encourage you to hunt for expensive books at other outlets first to get the most bang for your buck.

Some other places you may consider looking for guidebooks are second-hand bookstores, historical societies, museum gift shops, welcome centers, thrift stores, flea markets, library sales and yard sales. Although most museums are currently closed due to the pandemic, many offer online stores with reasonable prices.

Be aware that older guidebooks may have trails that are no longer accessible, as boundaries over the years can change. It’s good to glean information from more than one source before you go. If you don’t see your favorite titles listed here, let us know so we can add them to our bookshelf. Happy exploring!

The Silence and the Sun by Joe De Kehoe (Find it cheaper elsewhere!)

Death Valley to Yosemite: Frontier Mining Camps & Ghost Towns by L. Burr Belden & Mary DeDecker

Southern California SUV Trails II by Roger& Loris Mitchell

Gem Trails of Southern California by James R. Mitchell

Weekend Driver San Diego by Jack Brundais

Guide to Highway 395 Los Angeles to Reno by Ginny Clark

California Trails Desert Region, Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles Wells & Matt Peterson

Mojave Road Guide, An Adventure Through Time by Dennis G. Casebier

Las Vegas & Vicinity Daytrippin’ by Russell & Kathlynn Spencer

The Anza-Borrego Desert Region by Lowell & Dana Lindsay

Roadside Geology of Southern California by Sylvester & O’Black Gans

Abandoned Settlements of the Eastern Mojave by Alan Hensher

Bodie to Calico by G. Andrew Miller

The Old Spanish Trail Across the Mojave Desert: A History and Guide by Harold Austin Steiner

Ghost Towns of the Mojave Desert by Alan Hensher

Bill Mann’s Guide to 50 Interesting & Mysterious Sites in the Mojave Volume 1 by Bill Mann (Other volumes available)

Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Bernardino County by G. Pat Macha

The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park, Third Edition by T. Scott & Betty Bryan

Where to Find Gold in the Desert by James Klein

140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs by Phillip Ferranti

Thank you for using our amazon links. Each time you click on one our website makes a few cents. It’s a free way for you to help us out even if you don’t make a purchase. And who doesn’t enjoy shopping? Even if you purchase other items using our original link, we still receive a small credit. We hope you enjoy reading our selections as much as we did.

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