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Today’s featured author is new to me and I’ve been chomping at the bit to take one of her books for a ride! I’ll be diving into her new release soon but first, let’s have a little visit (and a giveaway)!
About the Author
Karen Barnett is an award-winning author of five novels who draws on her firsthand experience as a naturalist, former park ranger, and outdoor educator to transport readers to America’s national parks.
She lives in Oregon with her husband, two teenagers, and three mischievous dachshunds.
When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her kids through boring history museums.
You might also enjoy following her little buddy, RangerBear on Instagram.
Five Favorite National Parks
Karen: This is a tough question since there are so many parks I haven’t seen yet! Like many people, I dream of visiting them all. I suspect my favorites might change as I get to experience more of these incredible places. But as of this moment, these five would have to be my choices.
Beth: You will have several I haven’t visited yet since you’re a west coaster and I’m in the midwest!
Mount Rainier National Park
Karen: I grew up nearby, visited the park many times as both a child and an adult, and worked there as a national park ranger for two summers. In many ways my heart still lives there.
I adore everything about this mountain—wrapped in glaciers, subalpine meadows and lush lowland forests. That’s why it’s the setting for The Road to Paradise, the first of my Vintage National Parks novels.
Beth: Rainier is so impressive (in pictures, I’ve never been that far west) 😉
Yosemite National Park
Karen: When I first drove into Yosemite Valley, I felt like my heart stopped. The magnitude of this park’s beauty is difficult to describe.
All along the roadway, cars were pulling to the side and people got out to stare at the scenery in awe. The massive granite cliffs made me think that when God was done with creation, He dropped all leftover splendor on Yosemite.
It’s really unfair to the rest of the world. Yosemite will be featured in the second of my Vintage National Parks novels.
Beth: Whoa! I can’t imagine! At least I get to visit these places through your books!
Olympic National Park
Karen: Olympic is also located in Washington, but it’s not as well known as Rainier. The variety of ecosystems it contains is astounding. Stunning coastline, rugged mountains, alpine meadows, moss-draped forests, pristine lakes, hot springs—Olympic has it all.
On a personal note, some of my grandparents’ property was incorporated into the park when it was expanded in 1938.
Beth: I have not yet seen the Pacific ocean with my own eyes… some day!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Karen: Are you getting the sense that I favor the mountain parks? I visited RMNP when I was in college on a ten-day field study course. We studied the geology, wildlife, botany, climate and more.
After one horrible night of altitude sickness, I recovered and absolutely adored every moment that followed, even scampering down a mountainside during an afternoon thunderstorm.
Beth: This flat lander is obsessed with mountain views! I’m still warming up to the whole heights and winding roads part… eeep!
Yellowstone National Park
Karen: I visited here once on a cross-county trip with my family, but I’ve always regretted not having more time to explore. The geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mudpots captured my imagination. I can’t wait to return this summer and do more research for book 3 of my Vintage National Parks novels.
Beth: Ah-ha! FINALLY! We just drove through Yellowstone last year on our own family road trip! It was just a quick jaunt in the north entrance and out the east but we were impressed!
Karen: And of course, the places I DREAM of visiting: Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, The Great Smokies . . . Basically, all of them. What about you?
Beth: We drove BY the Rockies but would definitely like to visit and we’ve been to the Smokies a few times. As far as the bucket list goes, Grand Canyon is the big kahuna, followed by Glacier and of course the Rockies!
Tell us about your latest release
Karen: The Vintage National Parks novels grew out of my obvious love for national parks and the people charged with protecting them. The Road to Paradise is set at Mount Rainier in 1927.
Beth: The national parks always give me the warm fuzzies. It’s a combination of history and God’s creation that just can’t be beat.
An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.
But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.
When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?
Beth: I am looking forward to reading this book!!! Love that cover, too! Rocking the retro!
Tell us about your next release
Karen: In mid-May, I turned in the completed draft of the second Vintage Parks novel. We’re still working on its title, but the story is set at Yosemite in 1929—the height of the roaring 20s. I have a fantastic editor at WaterBrook, so I’m looking forward to reworking it based on her suggestions.
I’m also beginning the research into the third book, set at Yellowstone in 1933. There are some fascinating stories to tell about this park and the work done by the boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps, so I can’t wait to get started.
Beth: I don’t know much about Yosemite but Yellowstone is SO fascinating! Looking forward to the rest of the series! Thank you for sharing your love of national parks and your bookish news with us, Karen!
Karen Barnett has generously offered to send one Faithfully Bookish reader a signed paperback copy of The Road to Paradise!
US residents only
complete giveaway rules
Let’s talk national parks! Which ones have you visited? What parks are on your bucket list?