Smithsonian Offers Summer of Virtual Activities During Coronavirus

The lineup includes “backyard forest bathing” with naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley.

“She leads you through a walk through a virtual area, she paints an imaginary picture of a forest, she talks about the trees and what you might hear or smell,” Adelman said. “You plug in your headphones, you get comfortable, you can be outside, you can even be inside. She intersperses a little bit of nature lore, some poetry, some meditation.”

For more info, go here.

How To Find A ‘Wild Home’
And Connect With Nature During The Quarantine

Often, people think about connecting with nature by leaving the city — fleeing to vast open expanses far from civilization. But Choukas-Bradley has long advocated for finding the wild right outside your door, no matter how urban your environs. “I always encourage people to find what I call a wild home — someplace right nearby where you live that you can go to often and develop a relationship with it.”

Go here to listen.

Penned in Pandemic, Book Highlights Nature

In her latest book, written in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Melanie Choukas-Bradley advises readers to find their very own "wild home."

"I think the best way to connect to nature is to get to really know one place intimately," she said in an interview Sunday. "That message just resonates so much more now, where all of our other options have been limited or curtailed."

"It's very comforting to connect with the continuity of life going on and the unfolding of spring."

Find out more here.

An Invitation to Wander in
the Woods: Forest Bathing

We explore the growing practice of a Japanese inspired forest “bathing” and how this modern tradition has roots in ancient Shinto rituals. In this segment, Washington, DC based author and certified Forest Bathing therapist Melanie Choukas-Bradley takes host Amber Khan on a guided tour at the Woodend Sanctuary at the Audubon Naturalist Society headquarters in Washington, DC.

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Smithsonian Associates March issue announces An Immersion in Nature: Japanese “Forest Bathing”—Urban Style, held on May 5, led by Melanie at the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle.

Click on date to learn more.

Forest Bathing: A Retreat
To Nature Can Boost
Immunity And Mood

The aim of forest bathing, Choukas-Bradley explained, is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment. She helped us tune in to the smells, textures, tastes and sights of the forest. We took in our surroundings by using all our senses.

Click here to read and hear how forest bathing therapy is a stress-reduction strategy, as heard on NPR's
Morning Edition by Allison Aubrey

Photo courtesy of Judy Licht

Melanie Choukas-Bradley
We talk to the author of

By Claiborne Smith
on November 25, 2018

Read the interview with the Editor in Chief of Kirkus Reviews here.

Feeling Stressed In The City?
Go Bathe In A Forest.
(It’s Not What You Think)

The Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls
National Park. EHPIEN / FLICKR

Wed., Oct. 17, 2018, 12pm
WAMU 88.5

While “forest bathing” is a relatively new movement in the United States, the Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature has long been valued in many communities. It’s becoming more popular in the Washington, D.C. region, which has many green spaces despite its urban density.

From wellness trends to longstanding traditions, we’ll talk about our connection to nature, our favorite hikes, trails and parks, and the challenges to outdoor accessibility.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley, Author, "The Joy of Forest Bathing: Reconnect with Wild Places & Rejuvenate Your Life;" "City of Trees" and "A Year in Rock Creek Park;" Naturalist with the Audubon Naturalist Society and Smithsonian Associates, along with other organizations.

Dennis Chestnut, Founder and former Executive Director of Groundwork DC

Lee Cain, Director of Kingman Island, National Capital Region

American Voices,
hosted by
former Senator Bill Bradley

Airs on SiriusXM Radio, Sundays at 11 am ET, on Channel 124.

Listen here.

In this episode of American Voices, Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a certified “forest bathing” guide. Plus, we'll hear from the owner of The Book Barn. It's a bookstore with cats and goats running around, and they offer you coffee and cookies! Then, author Karen Salmansohn on her favorite place in America. She's the author of the book "Life is Long!: 50 + Ways to Help You Live a Little Bit Closer to Forever." Amazon link:

Shinrin-yoku 101:
Forest Bathing for Wellbeing

"Interest in Shinrin-yoku is now gaining in popularity in the United States as a way to reconnect with nature for health and many other benefits," says Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a forest therapy guide certified with the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy (ANFT), who shares some advice in
this piece from the Travel Channel’s Steve Larese.

Into the Woods

Chevy Chase’s Melanie Choukas-Bradley is teaching people
the art of forest bathing

The flute song of the wood thrush—ee-oh-lay, ee-oh-lay—echoes through Rock Creek Park. It is a morning in mid-May: high spring. The forest canopy is rain-soaked, which seems to magnify every sound.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author and naturalist, invites the nine women and one man who have followed her into the woods to close their eyes, listen and breathe deeply.

“Really take the air in and let your belly rise,” Choukas-Bradley, 66, says softly. “Keep your eyes closed. Listen to the creek. Listen to the birds. Just feel how wonderful it is to be sitting here together for a few silent moments.

“Now,” she says, “open your eyes and pretend that you are seeing the world for the very first time.”

One of the people gathered is surprised to find that when she opens her eyes they are wet with tears.

To read the entire article,
please click here.

Where To Find The Most Unusual Trees In D.C.

“Washington, D.C.’s trees are botanically diverse,” Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of City of Trees, A Year in Rock Creek Park, and The Joy of Forest Bathing, tells DCist via email. City of Trees is a comprehensive field guide to our city’s urban canopy and claims there are more than 300 species overall in our city from many different climates and countries. “Northern and southern species overlap in the Washington region and so do trees native to the piedmont and coastal plain.”

Check out fascinating tree stories here.

5 Things to Do This Weekend: June 28-June 30, 2019

Start off with a forest bath, then listen to an Ideas Fest talk, demo bikes at Snowmass, and catch two concerts.

Lots going on! Go here for details!!

Photo courtesy of Judy Licht

Nature Catches on in
'The Joy of Forest Bathing'

Melanie Choukas-Bradley is, for the first time, part of a trend.

"I write about nature, so sometimes my books are a little esoteric; you need to really love nature to enjoy them," said the naturalist and author of "The Joy of Forest Bathing — Reconnect with Wild Places and Rejuvenate Your Life... But it's really pretty exciting that people all around the world, you know, are just spending quiet time in nature. It really has just caught on."

Read the full front page story from the May 8th issue of the Brattleboro, VT daily paper here.

Forest Bathing
Walking through Nature with Melanie Choukas-Bradley

Everywhere you turn these days
there are articles, podcasts and advertisements about forest bathing.
It is the biggest nature trend since
the invention of backpacks.

Read this article in the Capitol Hill neighborhood paper here.

Some D.C. activities never
get old - no matter how many
times you revisit them

Nature trips that will
have you beating a path

Melanie hikes the same path in Rock Creek Park nearly every day, but her experience changes by the days, weeks, and months. Read more in the Washington Post Express article here.

Photo by Toni Genberg
Award-Winning and Newly Released Books

Connecting with Nature
in a Time of Crisis

By Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Cover Photo by Susan Austin Roth

You may order the book from
Amazon and Politics & Prose.


Finding Solace at
Roosevelt Island

By Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Cover Art by Tina Thieme Brown

You may order the book from
Amazon and Politics & Prose.


A Year in Rock Creek Park
The Wild, Wooded Heart of
Washington, DC

By Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Photographs by Susan Austin Roth

2015 IPPY award
for regional nonfiction

Click here to read about the award

You may order the book from
Amazon and Politics & Prose.


The Joy of Forest Bathing
Reconnect With Wild Places
& Rejuvenate Your Life

By Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Illustrations by Lieke van der Vorst

You may order the book from
Amazon and Politics & Prose.


Click here to read about the edition
published by George F. Thompson Publishing and distributed by the 
University of Virginia Press.

Click here to read about the
limited edition of A Year in Rock Creek Park published by
George F. Thompson Publishing.

Being present in a forest can produce
mental, emotional, and physical health
benefits; The Joy of Forest Bathing
is a simple antidote
to our nature-starved lives.

The Joy of Forest Bathing is both
an invitation to take up the practice,
and an inspiration to
connect with nature to heal 
your mind and spirit.

Melanie leads a spring nature walk, April 2018. Photo by Ana Ka’ahanui.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley is a Washington, DC author and naturalist who leads field trips and tree tours for the Audubon Naturalist Society, the United States Botanic Garden, Smithsonian Associates, the Maryland Native Plant Society, the Rock Creek Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, Casey Trees, Politics & Prose and other organizations. Melanie’s newest book, The Joy of Forest Bathing—Reconnect With Wild Places & Rejuvenate Your Life, was released on August 28, 2018 and is already in its third printing. Amos Clifford, Founder of the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides & Programs wrote: "Reading the The Joy of Forest Bathing works a bit of magic: I feel the presence of the forest and of the peace of the wild things who live there. Melanie Choukas-Bradley has given us more than a how-to book; she also inspires us with gentle guidance and her own joy, which illuminates every page. This book is a true delight that should be on the shelf of every nature lover." Dr. Robert Zarr, Founder of Park RX America, wrote this review: “The Joy of Forest Bathing brilliantly melds Melanie Choukas-Bradley’s naturalist detail and her innate and learned observational skills of all that surrounds her. I love that she can’t help but share her fascination with budbreak. I love how she reminds us to engage our senses, and to unplug, unwind, and indulge. Melanie makes the act of forest bathing accessible to us all, regardless of age or ability. Bravo!"

Melanie is the author of the award-winning book, A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC, with photographs by Susan Austin Roth. The book was published in two editions in the fall of 2014 by George F. Thompson Publishing. The softcover edition is distributed by the University of Virginia Press.

Melanie is the author of three other critically acclaimed books: City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, DC, illustrated by Polly Alexander and now in its third edition (2008), An Illustrated Guide to Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and Trees: 350 Plants Observed at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland, illustrated by Tina Thieme Brown (2004, 2007), and Sugarloaf: The Mountain’s History, Geology, and Natural Lore, illustrated by Tina Thieme Brown (2003), all published by the University of Virginia Press.

Melanie with forest therapy guides Akira and Kouriki in the Japanese Alps, October 2017

Melanie is also a long-time contributor to The Washington Post and other publications, and she has appeared as an author and guest expert on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, and WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show. In 2014, Melanie was awarded one of four inaugural “Canopy Awards” by Casey Trees, for her efforts to educate people about the trees of Washington, DC. Melanie is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide (Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, Santa Rosa, CA). She is on the Advisory Board of Capital Nature and the Advisory Committee of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance.


Hear recent interviews on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, Washington, DC’s NPR affiliate, WAMU:

Rock Creek Park Celebrates 125 Years
September 24, 2015

Rock Creek Park: Past, Present, and Future
August 28, 2014, (program rebroadcast Thanksgiving Day 2014)

(Click here for 2015 interview, here for 2014 interview,
then click “Listen” near the top left of page.

More interviews on WAMU:

Kojo Nnamdi show with guest host Paul Brown - Local Trees

Metro Connection interview - Feb. 19, 2010 - Tree Tour of the US Capitol Grounds

Metro Connection interview - City of Trees

Kojo Nnamdi show with guest host Corey Flintoff -
Sugarloaf: The Mountain's History, Geology, and Natural Lore

Kojo Nnamdi interview - Montgomery's Agricultural Reserve at 25

Kojo Nnamdi interview - The City of Trees

More News Items

How to Absolutely Crush Rock Creek Park
From Top to Bottom In One Day

The Washingtonian Magazine has created a
Rock Creek Park Hiking Guide
based on
Melanie's experience and suggestions.

You can find it here, ready to download and print!

“Which Kind of Cherry Blossom
Are You?”

Click here to take the online quiz in the
Washington Post Express.

Also published in the Washington Post Weekend Section as “Know Yourself, and Your Flowers,” by Sadie Dingfelder, March 25, 2016.

“A Year in Rock Creek Park”
(Click on the image to see the interview.)

"Forward Motion" television interview
hosted by Karen Allyn.

Tune in to Montgomery County 
Cable Channel 21


23 Books Obama Should Buy On
His Annual D.C. Bookstore Trip

From Kojo Nnamdi's blog November 21, 2016
Go here to read the whole Blog.

Politics & Prose recommends books for President Obama
to the Kojo Nnamdi Show:

A Year in Rock Creek Park
by Melanie Choukas-Bradley

"President Obama and family should get to know the beautiful park near their
new home in Kalorama. If he needs a tour guide, there are eager
Politics & Prose staffers happy to be of service!"

In 2017, Resolve to Appreciate D.C. Better

... get outside more.

Be one with the trees
"Thanks to its temperate clime and international citizenry, D.C. is home to about 350 species of trees from around the world, and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley is friends with them all."

Read more of Sadie Dingfelder's article in the Washington Post Express!

Learn about DC trees -- and the
Witness Tree Protection Program

with Melanie Choukas-Bradley in the
Washington Post Express,
July 27, 2015.

(Click here to see the story.)

Inauguration Day Nature Walk in Rock Creek Park with Congressman Jamie Raskin, Maryland’s 8th District, and Author Melanie Choukas-Bradley

Message from Congressman Raskin:
“Join me and my friend, author/ naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20 at Boundary Bridge in Rock Creek Park!”

To read more of Jamie Raskin’s message about the walk, click here.

2017 Review of A Year in Rock Creek Park
by Miriam R. Aczel, Imperial College of London, UK,
Electronic Green Journal, UCLA Library

Review excerpts:

"When I walk through the bottomland forest
and into the upland woods,
I may be deep in solitary reverie but I am never alone."

With its rich descriptions but clear warnings about the fragility of the author's beloved sanctuary, the book serves as homage to an ecosystem, while demonstrating its fragility.

Read the full review here.

Worried About the Cherry Blossoms? You May Have ‘Phenology Anxiety.’

Read more about this in Melanie's
Washington Post
op-ed here.

The woods are lovely, dark
and deep — perfect for forest
bathers searching for a
little peace of mind.

Read about Melanie's forest bathing walk in Rock Creek Park in the summer issue of National Parks magazine here.

Into The Woods

Want to go forest bathing?” asked a friend during a recent walk filled with the usual chitchat about kids, travel and politics. Since she’s been to an ashram and dabbles in assorted woo-woo experiences (don’t ask about our Akashic Records session), thoughts of taking a bath in the woods au natural while chanting “ohm” went through my mind, and I wanted no part of it.

Sensing my hesitation, she divulged that it has nothing to do with a bar of soap but everything to do with being immersed in nature to soak up the proven health benefits. It isn’t a hike. It isn’t a jog. It’s all about walking slowly, silently, stopping frequently to focus on the sights, smells and sounds of the outdoors sans cellphones or Fitbits.

To read the entire article, please click here.

Blossoms Off The Beaten Path: Where To See The Region’s Flowering Bounty

Melanie was Kojo's guest on
Thursday, March 29, 2018
WAMU 88.5 FM

In the nation’s capital, there’s nothing more synonymous with the arrival of spring than cherry blossoms. But is it really necessary to battle crowds at the Tidal Basin during the official Cherry Blossom Festival? We look beyond the usual spots to see the delicate blooms, and take some time to appreciate the less famous flowering trees among us.

Best of D.C. 2018: What Express editors picked
as their favorite things in Washington

Bomboland Illustration (For Express)

One of the great things about D.C. is that everyone ends up here for different reasons...That’s part of what makes the annual "Best of D.C." issue so fascinating: much like D.C. itself, it’s always changing. This year the "Best new way to chill out" is all about forest bathing!
Read more here about the benefits and delights of forest bathing experienced by Sadie Dingfelder. (Scroll down to read about forest bathing.)

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