Cover Image: Leave Only Footprints

Leave Only Footprints

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When Conor Knighton’s fiancée left him, he decided to take a trip through all of the National Parks in the US. Luckily for him, he got CBS to foot the bill (at least partially). The result is “Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park”. Mr. Knighton is able to pull triumph from his tragedy, taking us on a journey through “America’s Best Idea”.

This book is not a travel guide (there are enough of those out there), nor a detailed description of each park. Mr. Knighton groups the parks by theme, and often goes off on interesting tangents and bits of history, some of them inspired by the people he happens to meet. It is obvious that he cares about these places and wants to give us a reason to get up out of our seats and take advantage of what’s out there. I have to admit it worked – I just got back from taking my family on a road trip, and our visit to Great Sand Dunes Park was totally inspired by what I read in this book!

The book is well-written and the descriptions are right on the mark, although some parks are barely mentioned. It falters slightly when Mr. Knighton starts taking us into his dating adventures, but his glimpses into other people’s lives (his cameraman, park rangers, other travelers) gives the book a human touch.

I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Crown Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you!
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Conor Knighton gets to spend a year doing something that I've always dreamed of. After the relationship with his fiance ends, he decided to hit the road and visit every single one of America's National Parks. Each chapter focuses on a specific park as Conor shares his adventures and how his travels shifted his point of view on life. This was a wonderfully entertaining book. *Advance copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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Leave Only Footprints is Conor Knighton's account of his year spent traveling the national parks of the United States, starting with his first sunrise on a mountain in Maine and ending with his last sunset in San Francisco. While I read this book, I pictured keeping a dog-eared, worn-out copy of it in my glove compartment as some other, cooler version of myself traveled the country to different national parks. I pictured pulling it out to read a chapter at a time when I was in the Badlands, or at the hot springs in Arkansas. I don't know that I've ever had that experience before--imagining myself reading a book in places I've never been.

The chapters are split up by category and theme, each one covering a handful of parks, the people he meets along the way, and stories about his own life. You can read the chapters out of order, whenever you feel the urge to remind yourself what's really important in life (nature), or you can read the whole thing through. I took this book very slowly, reading it mostly before bed at night, because I found it so soothing and calming that I didn't want it to end. If you like nature, if you like funny and down-to-earth writing, if you like travel memoirs, if you enjoy national parks, if you need something soothing to remind you during this time (or any time) that a lot of good still exists in the world, you should pick up this book.
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There's a kind of magic to America's National Parks. These areas are set aside for the good of everyone--humans, animals, and plants. And, unlike most of the U.S., these areas are shared for all people.

Even though I've only been to two National Parks, the idea of visiting more has always been in the back of my mind. Naturally, when I found out that Leave Only Footprints was about a man's journey to visit all of the National Parks in a year, I pushed aside other books in my TBR to read it.

The author concocts the idea for his journey after a breakup. The narrative ends up being a perfect mix of personal growth, informational guide, and social commentary. Knighton hooks you at the beginning by making you wonder how he's going to recover from his romantic heartbreak and whether he's going to be able to convince the CBS Morning Show to run with the idea of showcasing the National Parks for the 100th anniversary of the parks system. (I feel a little bit like Leslie Knope whenever I type "parks system.")

Along the way, Knighton provides facts about each of the 56 parks that he visits. Unlike an actual guidebook, the facts he shares come to life. It's more fun to meet Cupcake, Party, Pinata, Happy, and Hundo, the puppies that will later become sled dogs at Denali than to simply learn that Denali is the only National Park to use sled dogs.

The social commentary ranges more than just focusing on the ecological effects of the National Parks. Knighton explores what the parks mean to the U.S. population and how the parks may adapt to meet the needs of citizens in the future.

After reading this book, I've already added additional parks to my future travel list. I will probably never visit all of the parks. I don't think I'd enjoy having to be flown to a remote area or having to learn to scuba dive in order to visit one, but I will be doing more research about the parks that are close and accessible to me.

If any part of this book sounds intriguing to you, I'd encourage you to pick it up. The only complaint that I had about the book is that I wish it were longer. I could have happily read for another 300 pages.
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Our national parks are truly our national treasures.  Some are large and dramatic while others are simplistic in their beauty.  Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton pays homage to these irreplaceable parks and natural wonders with stories, snippets of the parks’ histories, and reflections on what the future holds for our national parks.   

Written with a sense of wonder, curiosity, enthusiasm, and humor, Mr Knighton has produced a book that will take the reader through every national park in our country.  It is informative, very entertaining, and definitely a delight to read.

Organized by themes, Leave Only Footprints will inspire many to make their own trips to the national parks and it will certainly give readers an appreciation of what they have to offer.  My family and I, over the years, have visited many national parks.  Now, with this book, we have a renewed interest in visiting all the rest. 

I heartily recommend this book, with a tip of the hat to Mr Knighton for writing such an inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable tale of his travels.  

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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If you’ve ever paid a visit to one of this country’s National Parks, you know that there is a surfeit of awe-inspiring natural wonder in the U.S., albeit one that is perhaps not given quite the degree of respect that it deserves. It’s hard to imagine standing in one of these majestic places and not feeling overwhelmed by its beauty.

Now imagine doing that for ALL OF THEM.

That’s Conor Knighton’s travel guide/memoir “Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-To-Zion Journey Through Every National Park,” a book whose subhead is both accurate and insufficient. Knighton, a correspondent for “CBS This Morning,” does precisely what he says – he goes to every single National Park (though a couple more have been established since his 2016 trip.

Zigzagging through the country over the course of the year – sometimes with his sage photographer sidekick, often alone – Knighton offers up a loving look at our national natural pride. But it’s an internal journey as well, with Knighton also spending this time dealing with the aftermath of his breakup from his fiancée and other personal turmoil.

Knighton starts his journey literally as early as possible, joining a handful of die-hards who spend their New Year’s Eve making their way to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park, all of them seeking to be the first to see the sunrise. It’s an apt beginning, providing a spot-on illustration of the cheerful relentlessness that Knighton brings to the entire trip.

He makes an interesting choice, opting against laying the book out chronologically. Instead, he groups his visits thematically, with chapter headings that offer a bit of insight as to their contents. While one could argue that something is lost without the linear retelling of the story, there’s something really compelling about the connections he’s choosing to emphasize instead.

He leads off with “Sunrise” and closes with “Sunset,” but it isn’t all that straightforward. There are chapters with titles like “God” and “Forgiveness” and “Mystery” and “Love” to go along with “Caves” and “Canyons” and “Trees.” By attaching like to like, Knighton is able to delve deeper into the thoughts and feelings being generated by these experiences; the story seems fuller not just despite being told largely out of order, but BECAUSE it is out of order.

Winding through it all, alongside his vividly and passionately rendered descriptions of his experiences in these places, a thorough introduction to the National Parks writ large and the people – past and present – responsible for creating, maintaining and protecting them. The people who teach and continue to constantly learn about these incredible settings.

Standing in sandy silence in one of the quietest places on Earth or looking up into one of its darkest skies. Standing atop mountains and beside lakes. In deserts and forests and on islands and in caves. And everywhere, the people – the people who seek to celebrate these places and the people whose literal job it is to do so.

There’s also a healthy amount of Knighton himself sprinkled throughout, to the reader’s benefit. His sense of humor – largely self-deprecatory – is never far from the surface, even as he relates the more emotionally fraught aspects of his life (and maybe a few Tinder dates). Still, he manages to be consistently present in the moment; his introspective moments are tied just as indelibly to his surroundings as his joyful noise.

(Shout out to Efraim, the photographer who accompanied Knighton on parts of this journey and who managed to drop a handful of insightful and delightful pearls of wisdom over the course of the book. Every big journey could use an Efraim.)

In addition, one can’t help but take into account our world’s current circumstances as well. As the situation doesn’t allow for us to venture out to see these incredible sights for ourselves right now, there’s something to be said for hearing a well-told account of said sights. Obviously, someone else’s story isn’t the equal of your own first-hand experience, but the view through Knighton’s eyes is definitely a good one.

“Leave Only Footprints” is an engaging and captivating piece of travel writing, packed with the small details that really drive the reality of a place. Conor Knighton makes for a charming and entertaining guide, offering a smart and funny look at our country’s network of natural wonder and one man’s journey of a lifetime.

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Si’alh
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This is absolutely the book we need right now - while we are stuck at home! Guy’s life gets turned upside down. Guy decides to pitch an idea to visit all the National Parks and hopes to convince someone to pay him to do it. The writing is real and the stories are relatable and it is just a refreshing “travel” memoir.
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Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. – Mason Cooley

As a National Park nerd myself, I absolutely enjoyed reading Conor Knighton’s journey through the National Parks. He spent a year visiting “America’s Best Idea” – starting in Acadia National Park in Maine and working his way through all 59 of them.

I could relate to many anecdotes – like how often to wind up chatting with people on the trails, or making big plans, only to realize you’re not in shape for the hike you chose. And the scenery he describes throughout the book – I’ve been there and lived it in many of the parks – and he describes it so perfectly.

I also found myself pausing at times to Google and research some of the parks and places that I haven’t been to – and while they were already on my bucket list, some of them were moved up and places and destinations around the parks were added. Not to mention, considering visiting at off times of year – like Yellowstone in the winter.

I truly enjoyed Conor’s writing style – a perfect combination of casual and humorous; reflective and insightful. The entire book feels like a long conversation with an old friend.

This was also a enjoyable read during this COVID-19 quarantine. While I would normally be out in the spring visiting the National Parks myself, I was able to visit 59 of them through the lens of Knighton’s words.
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"It occurred to me that part of the reason I’d seen so much debate about the year’s first sunrise, and not its last sunset, was that our beginnings always seem more important than our endings. In life, we can often control how things start. Endings are elusive and amorphous and uncertain."

I loved this book. My word of the year this year is "wild" which is about being in the wilderness more. In 2002, I did a cross-country trip with my husband where we went to 30+ national parks and promised each other to rent an RV when we retired so we could do more of that. So when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it immediately. I wanted to revisit the parks I'd seen in person and find out about all the ones I hadn't.

"I don’t know what, if anything, comes after this life. But I can tell you this: If there is a Heaven, I bet it looks a lot like Yosemite."

And the book did not disappoint. It is the journey of the author over the course of a year as he visits every National Park in the United States. The book has parts that are informative, parts that are funny, and parts that are poignant. For me, it struck the perfect balance between the three, managing to make it a really enjoyable read.

"In a cave, you are simultaneously outdoors and indoors, protected from the elements and yet exposed to all sorts of new dangers."

I will admit that more than once, I wished the book came with photos. I wanted to be able to imagine what the parks looked like as he told stories about being in them. Some are very briefly mentioned, while the others are longer. But I wanted to see photos of all of them. I spent time going between my book and internet searches so I could see the photos of the mentioned places. 

"When I saw the pile, I couldn’t decide if it was depressing or beautiful. It’s probably a bit of both. It’s a monument to our desire to do the right thing, but it’s also proof that, sometimes, doing the right thing doesn’t matter. Sometimes it can be too little, too late."

I know the author has live video segments, I haven't seen any of them, but I will definitely go looking for them so I can enjoy all of this once more.

Thank you to netgalley and Crown Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Uplifting yet depressing at the same time. What will or landscapes look like in 20, 50 years? It's hard to say, but majority agrees it will be more densely populated with sparse greenery. Leave Only Footprints gives the reader much to reflect upon.
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This was a lovely, somewhat cheeky memoir about a 30 something guy who loves to travel, especially in the National Parks. It was a light-hearted walk through some of the more well known parks, and it was peppered with his thoughts on life, love, and how the Parks are faring with climate change. It was clearly written for a millennial audience, which I didn't mind, but I can see older folk bristling at his thoughts on Tindr. But it was a lovely easy read, and I laughed out loud more than once. Great summer read!
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Really enjoyed learning about the National parks the author shares with us his walks through these parks.He also shares with us moments of his life.If you enjoy nature walks you will really enjoy this book.#netgalley#crownbooks
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If you enjoy learning about and going to national parks you will love Leave Only Footprints. This book covers all the national parks, historical info about them  and stories about the author’s life. I found it quite interesting and I think you will too!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader’s copy of this book.  This was a delightful read for me as I love nature, the outdoors and national parks!
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An enjoyable and breezy read about a year visiting all the national parks while recovering from a heartbreak. I would liked more detail about the parks themselves in Knighton's observant, lightly humorous voice - he has Bill Bryson-type potential - but it all moved a bit too quickly.
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unfortunately this didn't download correctly so I couldn't read it******************************************************************************************************************
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This book was alright, although I was expecting less humor and more depth to the story of his travels, impressions of the parks, their history etc. After I finished this I read Mark Woods' Lassoing the Sun, which has some interesting parallels to Knighton's book, and frankly allowed for more connection to each of the parks discussed.
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Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book!  It was amazing and came to me exactly when I needed it the most.  I was overjoyed to follow along Knighton's journey.  It reminded me a bit like "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.  I love nature, national parks and landmarks so this fascinated me highly.  Even his introduction was great explaining his story and adding some details about President Roosevelt that I never knew.  I certainly learned a lot from this one.
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When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

The Emmy-winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent chronicles his year travelling to every one of our National Parks, discovering the most beautiful places and most interesting people that America has to offer.

When Conor Knighton decided to spend a year wandering through America's "best idea," he was worried the whole thing might end up being his worst idea. But after a broken engagement and a broken heart, Conor desperately needed a change of scenery. The ambitious plan he cooked up went a bit overboard in that department; Knighton set out to visit every single one of America's National Parks, from Acadia to Zion.

Leave Only Footprints is the memoir of his year spent travelling across the United States, a journey that yielded his "On the Trail" series, which quickly became one of CBS Sunday Morning's most beloved segments. In this smart, informative, and entertaining book, he shares how his journey through these natural wonders ended up changing his worldview on everything from God and love to politics and technology. Whether he's waking up early for a naked scrub in a historic bathhouse or staying up late to stargaze along our loneliest highway, Knighton goes behind the scenery to provide an unfiltered look at our country. In doing so, he reveals the unforgettable stories behind the often beautiful, always fascinating lands that all Americans share.

My mom and I the only indoorsy members of our family - - the rest of them have done fun things like, say, backpacking around Baffin Island for 90 days sot his is the perfect book for them. (In fact, my one brother is getting and "IOU this book" coupon for Christmas as it does not come out until April of 2020.) He plans to visit every US (61) and Canadian (48) National Park during his newly retired life - he and his wife managed to do 19 of the 109 the summer of 2019 alone and got a major dose of altitude sickness along the way in Utah.  THEN they are going to hike the Appalachian and other trails with their kids, spouses and grandkids  They are an exhausting family!

If you have a hiker or outdoor fan this is the perfect book for you - if you are a "hot house plant" (as my mom calls me) this is a nice way to read about and vicariously visit the parks with this book. It comes out in time for spring thaws and hiking being made easier for you or those outdoorsy type people in your life

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🥾🏔🥾⛺🥾
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In a time when our environment and our national parks are under the greatest threats in history, Knighton (of CBS Sunday Morning) decides to visit every national park in the United States. Following the break-up of a long term relationship, Knighton clearly needed a distraction and his quest would not only heal a broken heart, it also allowed him to share the beauty and majesty of out park service. From the most popular to the least known, he shares the stories and secrets of “America’s best idea”.  A must read for very American who values our natural resources
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