Arts & Entertainment

Born into National Parks

Columbia Falls writer and photographer Becky Lomax wins prestigious national honor for her new complete guide to all 59 national parks

As the daughter of a Mount Rainier National Park ranger, Becky Lomax has been exploring national parks since she was born.

An original Yellowstone guidebook called “Geyserland and Wonderland” sits on her kitchen table in Columbia Falls that her great grandparents bought when they visited in 1904, before the National Park Service was established.

With a love for national parks in her blood, Lomax left her teaching job in Seattle in 1993 and moved to the Flathead Valley with her husband to work at the ski area in the winters and guide hiking trips in Glacier National Park in the summers. She has now been exploring and photographing Glacier for more than 25 years and has obtained a vast knowledge from both working for the park and living in the area.

Lomax published her first Glacier National Park guidebook in 2006 after signing a contract with Moon Travel Guides and has since written several additional guidebooks and updated editions.

In October, she won the gold place in the best guidebook category for her new book, “Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 59 Parks,” at the prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, which drew 1,335 entries. Sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, the winners were announced in El Paso, Texas on Oct. 21.

“I had no idea I would win,” Lomax said. “That’s the academy award of travel writing.”

Although Lomax hasn’t been to all 59 parks, she says she’s been to about two-thirds of them in her lifetime. In addition to her own knowledge, she worked with other writers to condense each park into 30 pages.

“It was really hard after writing a whole book on Glacier and narrowing it down to 30 pages,” she said.

While the Glacier guidebook is separated by regions, the complete guidebook highlights each park’s top three experiences, which are aimed toward opportunities everybody can do, Lomax said.

Glacier’s top experiences include the Going to the Sun Road, glaciers to visit and things to do in Many Glacier. The best hiking trails include the Highline Loop and the Granite Park trail.

In addition to the text and maps, Lomax says the photos add an eye-catching element to the book, and many people who have no intentions of traveling buy it purely for the pictures.

“It also appeals to the armchair traveler,” she said.

Since writing the complete guidebook, Lomax emphasizes the importance of traveling to lesser-known national parks in the country.

“Everyone is always focused on the big parks,” she said “But there’s some amazing smaller parks.”

She recently visited the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona where she saw petrified trees and mineral layers in the Blue Mesa badlands. She says it’s a small park that should be on travelers’ bucket lists.

Lomax is currently working on the second edition of the complete guidebook and a new guidebook called “Moon U.S. and Canadian Rocky Mountains Road Trip.” Set for release in 2021, the book will guide readers on a road trip starting in Jasper National Park in Canada and ending in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

For more information, visit www.beckylomax.com.

maggie@flatheadbeacon.com

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