Author, Spotlight

Karen Barnett: author spotlight

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Today’s featured author is new to me and I’ve been chomping at the bit to take one of her books for a ride! I’ll be diving into her new release soon but first, let’s have a little visit (and a giveaway)!

About the Author

Karen BarnettKaren Barnett is an award-winning author of five novels who draws on her firsthand experience as a naturalist, former park ranger, and outdoor educator to transport readers to America’s national parks.

She lives in Oregon with her husband, two teenagers, and three mischievous dachshunds.

When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her kids through boring history museums.

You might also enjoy following her little buddy, RangerBear on Instagram.

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Five Favorite National Parks

Karen: This is a tough question since there are so many parks I haven’t seen yet! Like many people, I dream of visiting them all. I suspect my favorites might change as I get to experience more of these incredible places. But as of this moment, these five would have to be my choices.

Beth: You will have several I haven’t visited yet since you’re a west coaster and I’m in the midwest!

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount RainierKaren: I grew up nearby, visited the park many times as both a child and an adult, and worked there as a national park ranger for two summers. In many ways my heart still lives there.

I adore everything about this mountain—wrapped in glaciers, subalpine meadows and lush lowland forests. That’s why it’s the setting for The Road to Paradise, the first of my Vintage National Parks novels.

Beth: Rainier is so impressive (in pictures, I’ve never been that far west) 😉

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite NPKaren: When I first drove into Yosemite Valley, I felt like my heart stopped. The magnitude of this park’s beauty is difficult to describe.

All along the roadway, cars were pulling to the side and people got out to stare at the scenery in awe. The massive granite cliffs made me think that when God was done with creation, He dropped all leftover splendor on Yosemite.

It’s really unfair to the rest of the world. Yosemite will be featured in the second of my Vintage National Parks novels.

Beth: Whoa! I can’t imagine! At least I get to visit these places through your books!

Olympic National Park

Olympic NPKaren: Olympic is also located in Washington, but it’s not as well known as Rainier. The variety of ecosystems it contains is astounding. Stunning coastline, rugged mountains, alpine meadows, moss-draped forests, pristine lakes, hot springs—Olympic has it all.

On a personal note, some of my grandparents’ property was incorporated into the park when it was expanded in 1938.

Beth: I have not yet seen the Pacific ocean with my own eyes… some day! 

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountains NPKaren: Are you getting the sense that I favor the mountain parks? I visited RMNP when I was in college on a ten-day field study course. We studied the geology, wildlife, botany, climate and more.

After one horrible night of altitude sickness, I recovered and absolutely adored every moment that followed, even scampering down a mountainside during an afternoon thunderstorm.

Beth: This flat lander is obsessed with mountain views! I’m still warming up to the whole heights and winding roads part… eeep! 

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone NPKaren: I visited here once on a cross-county trip with my family, but I’ve always regretted not having more time to explore. The geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mudpots captured my imagination. I can’t wait to return this summer and do more research for book 3 of my Vintage National Parks novels.

Beth: Ah-ha! FINALLY! We just drove through Yellowstone last year on our own family road trip! It was just a quick jaunt in the north entrance and out the east but we were impressed!

Karen: And of course, the places I DREAM of visiting: Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, The Great Smokies . . . Basically, all of them. What about you?

Beth: We drove BY the Rockies but would definitely like to visit and we’ve been to the Smokies a few times. As far as the bucket list goes, Grand Canyon is the big kahuna, followed by Glacier and of course the Rockies! 


Tell us about your latest release

Karen at Mount Rainier NPKaren: The Vintage National Parks novels grew out of my obvious love for national parks and the people charged with protecting them. The Road to Paradise is set at Mount Rainier in 1927.

Beth: The national parks always give me the warm fuzzies. It’s a combination of history and God’s creation that just can’t be beat.

An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

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Beth: I am looking forward to reading this book!!! Love that cover, too! Rocking the retro!


Tell us about your next release

Karen: In mid-May, I turned in the completed draft of the second Vintage Parks novel. We’re still working on its title, but the story is set at Yosemite in 1929—the height of the roaring 20s. I have a fantastic editor at WaterBrook, so I’m looking forward to reworking it based on her suggestions.

I’m also beginning the research into the third book, set at Yellowstone in 1933. There are some fascinating stories to tell about this park and the work done by the boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps, so I can’t wait to get started.

Beth: I don’t know much about Yosemite but Yellowstone is SO fascinating! Looking forward to the rest of the series! Thank you for sharing your love of national parks and your bookish news with us, Karen!



Karen Barnett has generously offered to send one Faithfully Bookish reader a signed paperback copy of The Road to Paradise!

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett giveaway on Faithfully Bookish

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Let’s talk national parks! Which ones have you visited? What parks are on your bucket list?  

76 thoughts on “Karen Barnett: author spotlight”

  1. I don’t think I’ve visited any National Parks and if I have I can’t remember the names….lol I’d love to go to Yosemite, Glacier and Lake Tahoe, Zion’s too


  2. We haven’t been to any! But we would love to visit Yosemite one day. Hopefully Grand Canyon in the near future….


  3. Being from NC, I’ve been to the Great Smoky Mountains many, many times. I’d love to go see Old Faithful, some hot springs & see the Grand Canyon.


  4. I have not visited any National Parks that I am aware of. But I did visit the Everglades– is that one? I have visited the Mark Twain National Forest in many spots. I loved Karen’s books about the San Francisco earthquake and look forward to these books.


  5. I haven’t visited any national parks but I do want to see the Grand Canyon. And based on this interview, Yosemite National Park piqued my interest. I can’t wait to learn about more and see them someday.


  6. I have visited may National Parks. My favorites are The Grand Canyon, Zion NP, Yosemite NP, Sequoia NP. These books sound great. I want to read them.


  7. I’m excited to experience the parks with your characters, Karen. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon. The breathtaking views spark the urge to praise God for His amazing creativity. I would love to visit Yosemite! Until then, I’ll appreciate you sharing the parks through your photos and your stories.


  8. We have visited The Badlands in South Dakota, Castillo de San Marco in St Augustine, Florida, The Arch in St Louis, Missouri. I love the national junior ranger programs.


  9. I’ve been to the Great Smoky Mountains, Ricky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Crater Lake to name a few.
    I would love to go the Arcadia and to see the Redwoods in CA.


  10. I love Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier. I’ve also been to Rocky Mountain, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, and Sequoia. They all have their own beauty and special features. I’ve been close to Denali, but the weather was bad, and we didn’t go into the park. I’d love to go to Mount Rainier and Great Smoky Mountain.


      1. Karen, it helps that 5 of those parks are in Utah and Grand Teton is less than 4 hours away, with Yellowstone just on the other side of it. I’m actually going to be spending a little time in Yellowstone this week. A friend of mine has a cabin in island Park about half an hour from West Yellowstone, and she invited me to come along.


  11. We’ve been to the Blue Ridge Parkway, The National Mall and Memorial Parks, Historic Jamestown/Colonial Parkway/Yorktown, and The New River Gorge National River- and driven through the Great Smoky Mountains. I would love to get to Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Acadia National Parks someday. There are others, but those are my top picks!


  12. We loved , Arcadia National Park, Niagara National Park and Mount Washington State Park when we took our bucket list trip to all the New England states two years ago. Now we want to see all the ones in Utah including Bryce Canyon and Mount Rushmore. Hoping to mark them off the list next year. 🙂


    1. I definitely want to see Arcadia. It sounds amazing. I had low expectations for Mount Rushmore when I visited years ago. I thought, “Oh, it’s just some manmade monument.” No, it was seriously incredible. I loved it.


  13. Let’s see, I’ve been to the Badlands, Everglades, Glacier, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mount Ranier, North Cascades, Rocky Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains. Most of them were when I was young, and I hope to take my boys to some of them. I, myself, still want to make it to the Grand Canyon someday. Can’t wait to read your book!


  14. I had a brief visit to the Grand Canyon years ago but don’t recall visiting any other national parks.
    The book sounds quite interesting. I love the cover.


  15. Living in Oregon, we’ve visited the Olympic National Park in WA. Beautiful county out here in the Pacific Northwest for sure, lots of places to visit 🙂

    Thanks for the author spotlight and giveaway chance!


    1. We just went to Olympic National Park yesterday! We only got to see Hurricane Ridge. I want to go back and tour all the way around. My husband hasn’t seen that part of the Washington coastline.


  16. I haven’t been able to travel much. Are the Great Smoky Mountains a national park? If so that is the only one I have been to. I have always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon!m


  17. I’ve been to the Smokey Mountains and Grand Canyon, but there are many others I would love to see. You are a new author to me, and I would love to win your book. Thanks for the chance.


  18. I’ve visited Zion NP, Yellowstone NP (when I was a teenager, but I still remember it), and have hiked Mt. Rainier!


  19. I visited Yellowstone on a family trip but I was only 7 or 8 so don’t remember much about it. Living in SC I have been to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park a time or two.
    As for a.bucket list, any and all of them!


  20. I have been to the Great Smoky Mountains several times as my sister lived close to there for over 20 years. I don’t travel much anymore but like to read about all of the different places through books. Thanks for the giveaway.


  21. We have been to a number — Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Olympic, and smaller ones like Valley Forge — I would love to go to Yosemite as we were there for a night and couldn’t see much as it had snowed.


  22. I’ve been to the Smoky Mountains and we lived in two different places in Colorado so we have lived by the Rocky Mountains.

    This book sounds great.


  23. I’m in love with the Smoky Mountain National Park. We went on our honeymoon and have been back every other year since. As our girls get older, we hope to do more traveling to other National Parks.


  24. I live about an hour for Yellowstone National Park and love visiting with my kids on the free days. I’ve been to Glacier National Park and I think it’s my favorite. I been to Zions National Park as a kid and would love to return.


  25. I’ve been to several national parks and don’t know if I can name them all. Some of them are Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and more. So many beautiful ones.


  26. When we lived in PA, we visited Valley Forge. There’s not a ton of stuff there, but it’s still amazing to see one of the houses that Washington stayed in during that winter. I also spent this past fourth of July at RMNP! The views were gorgeous! I’d never been above the treeline before, so that was pretty cool!


  27. I can’t for the life of me think of the few names of national parks I’ve visited. Glacier and Yellowstone would be up there on my bucket list.

    Look forward to read your newest book. I love the cover!

    Thank you,
    Stephanie C.


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