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A Year in Rock Creek Park

The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC
Melanie Choukas-Bradley. Photographs by Susan Austin Roth

BUY Paper · 240 pp. · 7 × 9 · ISBN 9781938086243 · $29.95 · Dec 2014

IPPY awards - Bronze Prize for Best Regional Non-Fiction (South), Independent Publisher Book Awards (2014)

2015 IPPY Silver Medalist, Best Mid-Atlantic Nonfiction

Twice the size of Central Park, Rock Creek Park is the wild, wooded heart of Washington, DC, offering refuge from a frantic city pace to millions of visitors each year. Rock Creek Valley, which serves as the spine of the national park, has a long and storied history—from Amerindians who fished the creek, hunted the woods, and quarried the rock outcroppings, to Euro-Americans' claims on the land as mill sites, to widespread deforestation during the American Civil War, to its ecological restoration and designation as a federal park in 1890. Melanie Choukas-Bradley, renowned naturalist and writer, spent a year in Rock Creek Park walking and skiing its trails at all times of day, observing and recording natural events in all seasons and weather conditions. Enhanced by the evocative photographs of Susan Austin Roth, A Year in Rock Creek Park takes readers on an incredible and unforgettable journey.

Distributed for George F. Thompson Publishing (


Evocative of Thoreau and grounded in Leopold's land ethic, Melanie Choukas-Bradley invites readers into an unexpected urban wilderness in the heart of Washington, DC. As a naturalist, her extensive knowledge and keen observations note seasonal changes, and the reader naturally falls in step, as if on one of her walks. Choukas-Bradley paints a sense of place with her poetic descriptions of nature and the cultural and historical information she imparts about the national park. Drawing on lessons learned from her deep connections to Rock Creek Park, she searches inwardly, reflecting on the interconnectedness of people and the land, realizing that our mutual well-being is dependent on the health of the land, which, in turn, is dependent on our responsible use. I have found another kindred spirit through this engaging book.

Nancy Nye Hunt, author of Aldo Leopold's Shack: Nina's Story

"For her book A Year in Rock Creek Park, Washington writer Melanie Choukas-Bradley spent hundreds of hours walking (and skiing) every nook and cranny of the park."

Jennifer Ortiz · Washingtonian

This greatly enjoyable and unique book is highly recommended for readers both with an environmental or science background and a general audience. The book ultimately makes a powerful case for promoting environmental stewardship and why such precious resources need our protection.

Electronic Green Journal

About the Author(s): 

Melanie Choukas-Bradley is an author, naturalist, and teacher, based in Washington, DC. A long-time contributor to the Washington Post and other publications, she is the author of City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, DC, third edition, illustrated by Polly Alexander, An Illustrated Guide to Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and Trees, illustrated by Tina Thieme Brown, and Sugarloaf: The Mountain's History, Geology, and Natural Lore, illustrated by Tina Thieme Brown (all Virginia). She currently resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Susan Austin Roth is a photographer, writer, and editor who specializes in gardening, landscape design, and all things natural. She has worked as a field editor and assignment photographer for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, and has received three awards for her photography and writing from the Garden Writers Association. She is the author of ten best-selling gardening books, and her images of gardens and of nature appear regularly in national magazines, books, and calendars. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.

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