Forests, Alligators, Battlefields

Forests, Alligators, Battlefields:
My Journey through the National Parks of the South

299 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-0-9861932-7-9 $16.00 published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association (2016)


Danny Bernstein makes a great national park buddy as she takes you through the seventy-one parks in the South. You’ll meet historic figures, rangers, volunteers, park partners and visitors-the people who bring each park to life.

In her attempt to become a Southerner one park at a time, Danny shows that every national park has a human story as well as great scenery. In the Smokies, she leads us to long-forgotten cemeteries. She walks around New Orleans to find the story of jazz.

She meets Henry Allen, who marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. At Natchez National Historical Park, Ranger Schoby explains how free African-Americans survived before the Civil War. After she finally finds the national park at Salt River Bay, she stands where Christopher Columbus landed on his second voyage.

Here are the details on the 71 national park units in the South.

Click on the photos to watch the three videos that I use in my book talks. They’re short.

Congaree National Park
The Great Outdoors

War Parks

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Cultural National Parks

Look at the table of contents.

See a great article about my national park journey in the Smoky Mountain News.

How to order the book

You can order Forest, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South, directly from the new publisher – the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

You can also buy the book from Malaprops Bookstore and from Amazon.

Acclaim for Forest, Alligators, Battlefields

Will Harlan, author of Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island
Danny’s adventures are a must-read for any outdoor enthusiast. No one has logged more miles in national parks or explored them so thoroughly. She asks tough questions and goes beyond the visitor center to uncover highlights and hidden treasures across 70 national park units across the South. At each park, she powerfully weaves together natural and human histories—including her own. This is not a superficial overview. Danny gets her boots muddy—and her hands dirty—clearing trails, viewing wildlife, and hiking deep into the region’s wildest and most rugged terrain. It is a timely and critically important book that celebrates the South’s enduring park legacies, delves deep into their storied past, and offers a candid, clear-eyed vision for their future.

Johnny Molloy, author of over fifty outdoor hiking, camping and paddling guides
Danny’s book written from a true love of our national parksreflects not only the author’s enthusiasm for the special places preserved, but the people and the stories reflected in those places, stories both past and present. The author as narrator weaves her own personal adventures about exploring the national parks with humor and wry observation. While revealing her own story, Danny never overshadows the true stars of the book, the national parks themselves.

It’s as if Danny invites you along for the adventure, leading you throughout the South, from the beaches of Puerto Rico to the Civil War battlefields to the Natchez Trace of Mississippi to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, to lesser parks of which you’ve never heard, but will want to go after reading this book. And whether we are traipsing through a visitor center, along a trail or visiting a pioneer cabin, with Danny in the lead, we learn tales of how and why these national parks came to be. Her conversational yet informative writing style leads you on a learning experience far removed from dull, dry historical textbooks. Grab this narrative! It will make you eager to experience these national parks for yourself.

Anne Mitchell Whisnant, author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History
Danny Bernstein is an ideal National Parks guide. She loves the parks and believes in the public purpose they serve. She is insatiably curious about both their hiking trails and outdoor spaces and the complicated histories they preserve and tell. And she is ever mindful of the now century-long saga of the National Park Service as the agency that manages them. In this personal and intimate book, she blends these things in an engaging account that invites us to make our own journey through the parks of the southeast. I am eager to follow her.