The Friendship that Saved Yosemite

In Guardians of the Valley, Dean King traces the birth of our national park system.

(Image © Bettmann/CORBIS)

May 1903, Yosemite National Park, California, Theodore Roosevelt with naturalist John Muir on Glacier Point

Guardians of the Valley by Dean King. Scribner. pp.480. $30.

With his latest book, historian and Virginia Living contributor Dean King takes readers to the Yosemite Valley of the late 1870s, where the pristine wilderness inspires a spiritual awakening in the young Scottish naturalist, John Muir. But a decade later, when Muir returns to Yosemite, he finds it plundered by miners, tour operators, loggers—and anyone who stands to profit from the land.   

With help from his friend, the urbane Robert Underwood Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Century Magazine and later, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Muir makes an impassioned plea for Yosemite’s protection. In time, this unlikely pair inspires Teddy Roosevelt to launch our national park system. 

King’s story of two men who join forces to save America’s wilderness from destruction is as moving as the friendship that inspires it. King is now developing a documentary feature for Netflix., 


Oct. 1, The Georges Speaker Series. Special room rates ($199-350) include admission to the event. For reservations please call 540-463-2500 or email [email protected].

  • Talk, Reception, & Book Signing: 4:00-6:15 ($25)
  • Dinner with Dean at Haywood’s” 7:00 ($65 Prix Fixe Menu)

Get a copy at The Bookshop.

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