Alaska Author Bill Sherwonit

About the Author

Living with Wildness Interview

Chugach State Park book, featuring photography by Carl Battreall

49 Writers Blog Posting: Of Essays & Animal Stories

Facebook Page: Animal Stories by Bill Sherwonit

The Nature of Cities blog posting, 2012: Rediscovering Wildness -- and finding the "wild man" -- in Alaska's Urban Center


Featured Book:

Animal Stories [book cover] Animal Stories: Encounters with Alaska's Wildlife
Graphics Arts Books, 2014

"Animal Stories" is a captivating collection of essays that describe the author's memorable--and in some instances, astonishing and even life-changing--encounters with wild animals in Alaska. The stories have a wide reach, in a number of ways. Besides Sherwonit's observations about Alaska's best known and most charismatic wildlife--grizzlies and wolves, moose and Dall sheep, bald eagles and beluga whales--he introduces readers to many of the state's species that are rarely encountered, from wood frogs to lynx and wolverines, and seamlessly weaves in natural history information about each animal. The settings of the stories are geographically diverse as well, stretching across the state.

Other Books:

Living With Wildness (book cover) by Bill Sherwonit Living With Wildness: An Alaskan Odyssey
University of Alaska Press, 2008

"Living in Alaska, author Bill Sherwonit has a wealth of superlative natural landscapes and animal encounters with which he could dazzle readers, and he does manage to include some high-adrenaline scenes in this book. But for the most part (and to my delight), Sherwonit has eschewed hyperbole in order to walk a more challenging, thoughtful, and authentic path: balancing Alaska drama, which has little relevance to most Americans’ experiences, with the quiet, everyday moments and reflections that connect us all to the wildness just outside our doors. In LIVING WITH WILDNESS, Sherwonit employs both a journalist’s skills and a non-specialist’s sense of humble wonder to deliver a portrait of the wild in its many guises. Though northern experiences take the main stage, his Connecticut childhood memories are particularly moving and instructive, reminding us all of the importance of early, unmediated experiences with nature. Throughout the book, Sherwonit taps the expertise of local natural history experts and mentors, weaving their observations and studies with his own, more personal discoveries. If next year I take more walks, notice more birds and small mammals, grant my children a little more outdoors freedom, and manage to escape the city in search of darker, star-filled nights, it will be because of LIVING WITH WILDNESS. Just reading it made me feel more connected to the place I call home."
-- Andromeda Romano-Lax, author of Searching for Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez and The Spanish Bow.

Changing Paths, by Bill Sherwonit Changing Paths: Travels and Meditations in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness
University of Alaska Press, 2009

"Thank goodness for Bill Sherwonit, a self-described 'recovering Lutheran' and 'happy pilgrim' who in this lovely book invites us to join him on his journey into the Church of Wild Nature, from a childhood with Uncle Peach to an epic hike through Alaska's Brooks Range, the northernmost mountain range in the world. If every kid in America could spend a summer with his guy - or read this important book - we'd have something truly remarkable: a national ecological conscience, and countless fewer cases of attention deficit disorder."
-- Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak and Visions of a Wild America

"The mystical and spiritual essence of the Brooks Range is undeniable and to a young geologist named Bill Sherwonit, discovering the magic of mountains was life changing…and we are most fortunate that he found his calling in sharing what mountains have to say. Grab this book and join Bill on his journey of self-discovery as he explores the path blazed by Bob Marshall through Alaska’s furthest north mountains and ruminates on such topics as how to cross a river without dying, why the world needs wilderness, the importance of bones left alone, what to say to a curious grizzly bear, the irrational pull of the wristwatch, the futility of worrying too much, the joy of friendship and why 'wild' is a necessary fuel for life."
-- Jim Stratton, Alaska regional director, National Parks Conservation Association

Alaska's Accessible Wilderness (book cover image) Bill Sherwonit Alaska’s Accessible Wilderness: A Traveler’s Guide to Alaska’s State Parks
Alaska Northwest Books, 1996

Alaska’s State Park System is the nation’s largest and grandest.
Encompassing 3.2 million acres, it contains some of our country’s premier wilderness. ALASKA’S ACCESSIBLE WILDERNESS focuses on six of the state’s wildest, most alluring parklands. Five of the six offer an inspiring mixture of remoteness, wildlife, scenic vistas, and outdoor recreation. The sixth is famous for its wildlife, specifically bald eagles. These are places of glaciers and unscaled mountains, of centuries-old forest and high alpine tundra, of salmon-rich streams, vast lakes, and remote islands, of grizzlies and wolves, moose and swans. For all their wildness and unspoiled beauty, these parklands are remarkably easy to reach and, in most cases, easy to explore.

In essays and photographs, Bill Sherwonit paints vivid portraits of the parks. Woven throughout the text are suggestions for wilderness travel, including information on backcountry safety, camping, bear-human relations, user fees, air-taxi travel, and more. Visitor information is included for each of the parks, with tips on getting there, when to go, facilities, and services, activities, and weather.

Alaska Ascents (book cover graphic) Alaska Ascents
Alaska Northwest Books, 1996

Edited and compiled by Bill Sherwonit, this anthology gives
voice to Alaska’s great peaks and to the people who have climbed them. ALASKA ASCENTS takes readers to all of the state’s major mountain chains -- the St. Elias, Wrangell, Coast, Chugach, Alaska, and Brooks Ranges -- and to many of its grandest peaks, from Denali to St. Elias, Fairweather, Foraker, Hunter, Moose’s Tooth, Devil’s Thumb and the Kitchatna Spires. The storytellers in this collection reveal the challenges of Alaska’s mountains,
among the most inaccessible and difficult to climb in all of North America. Through these mountaineering stories, we learn about the people who are drawn to scale such peaks and who experience the triumph of the spirit and sometimes tragedy and loss. Sherwonit includes an introduction to each story, to provide context on the mountains, the expeditions, the climbers.


Alaska’s Bears
Alaska Northwest Books, 1998

Alaska is truly bear country and ALASKA’S BEARS is the first pocket-sized guide to the state’s three species of bears: polar bears, black bears and brown bears (or grizzlies). Bill Sherwonit’s writing provides an easy reading natural history for each species, from their appearance and behavior to yearly cycles, ecological niches, and relationships with humans. The text also includes helpful information on visiting Alaska’s bear-viewing sites, tips for safe travel through bear country, and excellent photos by longtime Alaskan Tom Walker.


Denali: A Literary Anthology
The Mountaineers Books, 2000.

Denali, “The High One” (Alaska’s Mount McKinley), has beguiled story-tellers since time immemorial. In this wide-ranging anthology spanning 101 years of published writings -- representing both the northern classics and little-known gems -- editor Bill Sherwonit gives us a taste of a rich literary legacy. Explorers, mountaineers, naturalists, Native Alaskans, adenturers, and homseteaders, the storytellers of DENALI powerfully portray the wild spirit of The Mountain. They tell us of the landscape’s dangers, its obstacles and abundant wildlife; and they share its allures, whether gold or high mountain summits, snow-white sheep or wilderness solitude. In reading these stories, we also learn about the men and women who are drawn to this special place, who find hope, challenge, inspiration -- and sometimes sorrow -- in Denali and the broad shadow The Mountain casts.


Iditarod: The Great Race to Nome
Alaska Northwest Books, 1991 (out of print); Sasquatch Books, 2002

IDITAROD recounts the history of the Iditarod Trail and three decades of Alaska’s “Last Great Race,” from its pioneer origins and first Native and rural mushers, to the rise of early champions and the advent of record-breaking times set by today’s racing professionals. Sherwonit’s text is complemented by Jeff Schultz’s stunning images from the trail.


Wood-Tikchik: Alaska’s Largest State Park
Aperture Foundation, 2003

Alaska’s vast Wood-Tikchik State Park affords breath-taking vistas and a habitatas undisturbed and balanced as any that remains on this planet. Landscape photographer Robert Ketchum turns his lens to these beautiful wildlands. Yet today, the Wood-Tikchik landscape is in danger of fragmentation and exploitative development, which would destabilize the park’s cycle of life. Ketchum’s astonishing photographs and Bill Sherwonit’s thoughtful accompanying essay make it abundantly clear that this vital land is far too valuable to jeopardize through careless commercialization.


Denali National Park: The Complete Visitors Guide [book cover image] Denali National Park: The Complete Visitors Guide to the Mountain, Wildlife, and Year-Round Outdoor Activities
The Mountaineers Books, 2013

Part history, part field guide, and part recreation tool, this is an up-to-date and comprehensive guidebook for Denali—one of the nation's most beloved national parks. The book includes checklists for wildlife watching and details on winter fun.
Denali National Park: The Complete Visitors Guide to the Mountain, Wildlife, and Year-Round Outdoor Activities is the most comprehensive guide to one of North America's most wild and varied places. This authoritative reference to Denali National Park and adjacent lands -- including its neighbor Denali State Park -- details all the information a traveler needs for a great Alaska experience, whether by bus, car, train, bike, boat, or foot. With this guide in hand you can explore the park's visitor facilities, raft whitewater rapids, pick berries, climb the continent's highest mountain, backpack through forest and tundra, watch grizzlies dig for ground squirrels, share a ridge top with Dall sheep, attend sled-dog demonstrations, go on ranger-guided hikes, camp in solitude within glacially carved valleys, and much more.


To the Top of Denali [book cover image]

To the Top of Denali: Climbing Adventures on North America's Tallest Peak
Alaska Northwest Books, 1990; revised second edition, 2000; revised third edition, 2012

From the foreword by Art Davidson, author of Minus 148°: “Few of us will ever have the opportunity to climb Denali, but writer Bill Sherwonit can take all of us to the mountain’s highest reaches. An Alaskan, Sherwonit lives close to the mountain’s presence. A climber himself, he has scaled Denali. As a writer, Sherwonit transports us not only to the mountain, but into the drama of the great expeditions. In an informative, fast-paced narrative, he brings alive the heroics of the pioneers who tried to make the first ascent and of those who followed, putting up ever more harrowing routes on the mountain’s steep ridges and walls. “Here in one book are the great moments of mountaineering on Denali. . . . It is a pleasure to welcome this book, which offers insight and tales of great adventure for both advanced climbers and all the armchair explorers who wonder why people climb mountains.”


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Copyright Bill Sherwonit 2004-2014.
AlaskaWriter illustrations and site design copyright 2003, 2004
Sonya Senkowsky and AlaskaWriter. All rights reserved.