Inside Yosemite: Treks, Tracks and Scat

Two comprehensive and educational guidebooks cover everything from Yosemite hikes to helping kids identify animal tracks and droppings.

These guidebooks are essential for your family trip to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, but they guide you through the vast peaks and valleys in two very different ways. One is a traditional guidebook—highlighting where to stay, what to do—while the other is more, how should I say, organic? Instead of identifying monuments, the book explains how to identify another kind of landmark: animal poop.

by Gary D. Robson, illustrated by Elijah Brady Clark. Farcountry Press 2005; $9.95

Finally, a poop book that’s not about potty-training! Here’s an educational picture book that teaches kids about animals, their tracks and perhaps most importantly, their poop.

Robson tells the story of a family that goes camping in Yosemite National Park with a boy who is rather afraid of bears (your kids will latch onto the part about a boy-eating bear). He gingerly weaves in the teaching aspect via Dad, who shows his kids animal signs: their tracks and scat.

There are call-outs on many pages—“The Straight Poop”—that share interesting animal trivia, but my favorite page was the one on deer scat. Did you know it looks different in the spring and summer versus the fall and winter? And it’s not to be confused with rabbit droppings, which looks like little round balls, while deer poop resembles jellybeans. I never thought I’d see poop juxtaposed with candy, but the illustrator pulls it off.  


From black bear prints to bat guano, Robson uses language kids can understand and focuses on a topic they can get excited about, especially if they’re on their way to actually seeing some of these animals. His choices of which details to include for each animal were made wisely, as only a writer who is also a teacher can do.

Clark’s soft, realistic illustrations are inviting, and he does a nice job showing the animals, tracks and scat in detail—right down to the tiny skull in the owl scat.


It’s a bit on the long side for a picture book at 47 pages, but Robson gets away with it by having many pages focus on a single purpose, like showing the difference between a coyote track and a mountain lion track.

The end of the story falls a bit flat, but then, I think most parents buying this book are buying it for the educational value and not the heartwarming story of a child getting over his fear of animals.

Worth buying? 

Yes. It’s by far the most dignified scoop on poop I’ve found to date. My boys loved guessing which tracks belonged with which animals. My youngest loved “reviewing” the Tracks and Scat Notes, which show a picture of the animal, its track and its scat, with a little note about all three. His older brother liked the picture of the boy with the bear behind him, “The bear is going to eat him!” he exclaimed. They both liked the part about the bats and bat guano (boys!) as well as the owl scat, which has a picture of a tiny skull (likely a mouse) in the scat. You know the allure of a skull in poop, right? 

Destinations: Yosemite National Park

Themes: Family Travel, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Hiking, Camping, Caving

User Comments

Sounds like a great book! I definitely have to get that book now!

Yosemite guide Our favorite park. Great article.