Melanie Choukas-Bradley's books can be ordered through Politics and Prose, Amazon.com, GFT Publishing, the University of Virginia Press, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.


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

by Melanie Choukas-Bradley
with photographs by Susan Austin Roth

Rock Creek Park is Nature's gem in Washington, DC. Twice the size of famed Central Park in New York City, Rock Creek Park is the wild, wooded heart of the nation's capital, offering refuge and a keen sense of place for millions of residents and visitors each year.

Rock Creek Valley serves as the spine of the national park. Its history is long and storied, from native Indian tribes who fished the creek, hunted the woods, and quarried the rock outcroppings, to Euro-Americans' claims on the land as mill sites, to deforestation near Fort DeRussy during the American Civil War, to its ecological preservation and designation as a federal park in 1890, the same year Yosemite in California became a national park.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a renowned naturalist, writer, and teacher in the DC area, spent a full year in the national park recording her observations. She walked and skied its trails several times a week and in all weather conditions, observing and recording natural events in such engaging prose and insight that we feel right at home when she explores the park's many "environmental moments." As Choukas-Bradley writes:

"Rock Creek Park's legendary 'wildness' has inspired not only American Presidents such as John Quincy Adams, who heralded Rock Creek as 'this romantic glen,' and Teddy Roosevelt, who led hikes and rock-scrambles there, but also other devotees such as Edward O. Wilson, the world-renowned scientist who, as a boy, fondly studied in the park's environs."

But this is more than a nature book, for Choukas-Bradley makes enlightened connections between the natural cycles of life within the park and her life as both a naturalist and writer and a wife and mother. Woven into her wanderings is an exuberance for the restorative powers of Nature and a yearning for better stewardship of our earthly home. Within these pages, Choukas-Bradley leads us on a personal discovery of the wonders of Rock Creek Park. Enhanced by the beautiful photographs of Susan Austin Roth, we are given the gift of an incredible and unforgettable journey.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

"Evocative of Thoreau and grounded in Leopold's land ethic, Melanie Choukas-Bradley in A Year in Rock Creek Park 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

Amazon lists A Year in Rock Creek Park as #5 of "hot, new releases in travel writing." 9/2014


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 published by
George F. Thompson Publishing.

Washington, DC, boasts more than three hundred species of trees from America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and City of Trees has been the authoritative guide for locating. identifying, and learning about them for more than twenty-five years. The third edition is fully revised, updated, and expanded and includes an eloquent new foreword by the Washington Post's garden editor, Adrian Higgins.


"A splendid field guide - practical, botanically sound, and filled with good stories." - Washington Post Book World


"The District, as locals call it, has a long history of tree planting and maintenance. That's because the city's founders understood both the symbolic and ecological value of trees, according to City of Trees, the authoritative history and field guide to Washington's trees." - American Forests Magazine


"Definitive...[The] book is not only full of trees, buds, catkins, berries...it is also full of history." - Christian Science Monitor


As the cherry blossoms start to bud, all eyes are turning to the city’s famed trees. The District, however, has more than 300 species of trees that line its avenues and fill its parks.

First released in 1981, City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, DC is in its third run, but has been completely revamped in the 22 years since the previous edition with new ink drawings (540 of them) by Polly Alexander and twice as many (now 48) color photos.

Author Melanie Choukas-Bradley has also added dozens of new locations, including one of the area’s hidden gems, the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend in Chevy Chase, MD, and an in-depth history of the city’s ecology.

A mix between a tour guide and a field guide, the backpack-sized book is great to take on hikes, and as you learn about the trees, you’ll also learn about the capital’s history.

This is for: Arbor enthusiasts
Uses: Field guide to native trees
Size: Backpack; 1 lb. 6 oz.
Price: $27.95

- Roll Call (spring 2009)


A thorough yet user-friendly companion to the authors' popular paperback Sugarloaf: The Mountain's History, Geology, and Natural Lore, this volume is an exquisitely illustrated guide to 350 eastern woodland wildflowers and trees found onsite at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland. It includes a botanical key and an illustrated glossary of common and scientific names, and is packed with nearly 400 elaborately and artistically detailed pen-and-ink drawings to make plant identification simple and fun.


"Surely such a familiar landmark and its flora need no introduction. But leaf through the book (or better yet, get Brown and Choukas-Bradley to take you on a tour) and you realize that while the rest of the world has been looking at Sugarloaf through a telescope, this intrepid pair has been using a magnifying glass....Their record of these [trees and wildflowers] has become one of the most complete guides to local up.and flora available, and they hope it will be used not just in other natural areas but in back yards where people want to raise native plants themselves."
- Washington Post


"In between a field guide and a botanical manual, Choukas-Bradley and Brown have created a must-have...to tote into the woods of Sugarloaf Mountain. The authors have included every flowering plant they observed during ten years of extensive hiking and exploration on Sugarloaf. This guide would be useful to any naturalist, serious or casual, venturing into the wilds of the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada."
- E-Streams


"This book contains an easy-to-use, non-technical botanical key for flowering plants - herbaceous and woody alike....The author describes each plant and its individual parts, all related species, and details on the plant's growth habit, its natural range and habitat, its bloom time, and where it can be found on Sugarloaf Mt."
- Solidago: The Newsletter of the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society


"This book is a wonderful guide for dayhikers, naturalists, and people interested in history. It explains the forces of nature that resulted in the formation of Sugarloaf, the only mountain in the Maryland Piedmont, and explores the history of that mountain from the early American Indians through the incorporation of Stronghold to ensure the preservation of the mountain and its natural splendor for posterity." - Potomac Appalachian, the newsletter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club


"This slim volume offers a fascinating insight into not only the nature of Sugarloaf but also the passion with which Choukas-Bradley and Brown have embraced the mountain." - Audubon Naturalist News


"The book guides readers on a hike that depicts the mountain as a survivor of a violent geological past, an overexploited source of Industrial Age charcoal and the sanctuary of Henry Gordon Strong, a railroad tycoon's son from Chicago who bought most of the mountain and preserved it for posterity. Along the way, the book also tells of the mountain's importance as a lookout and signaling station during the Civil War, and of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's desire to transform Sugarloaf into a presidential retreat."
- Washington Post


©2017 Melanie Choukas-Bradley All rights reserved.
Site Design by Stone Graphics