The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada

(8 customer reviews)


SKU: LFGSN Categories: ,


More than 110,000 copies sold!

The most comprehensive field guide to the natural wonders of the Range of Light!

In this groundbreaking and meticulously field-tested guide, the rich variety of Sierra life—trees, wildflowers, ferns, fungi, lichens, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, and insects—comes alive.

Easy-to-use features include:

  • Intuitive organization, color tabs, and simple keys
  • Similar-looking species side by side
  • Over 2,800 full-color illustrations
  • Range maps of species that are otherwise difficult to distinguish
  • Index of common and scientific names
  • Lightweight and compact—ideal for backpacking

Impressively detailed and comprehensive, the guide includes:

  • More than 1,700 species
  • Descriptions of behavior, adaptations, and interactions between species
  • Species and topics not found in most guides, including aquatic life, spiders and webs, plankton, plant galls, bark beetle galleries, animal tracks and evidence, seasonal star charts, weather patterns, and cloud formations

John Muir said that “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe”- My first summer in the Sierra. Even if we first go out to look at birds, we find a whole community of plants, insects, mushrooms and other organisms all interacting with each other. The Sierra Nevada hosts a rich diversity of species. This field guide allows everyone to more deeply appreciate and enjoy this treasure. As the population of California grows, it will only become more important that people understand, respect, and love this biodiversity. I have created an easy to use, fully illustrated (2,710 original watercolor paintings), pocket size guide to over 1,700 species found in the Sierra Nevada.  The guide was rigorously field tested and reviewed by educators, naturalists, and scientists throughout the country. The final book is co-published by Heyday Books, a wonderful non-profit press in Berkeley, and the California Academy of Sciences.

Watch a talk I gave at The Foster in June 2018 about the genesis and process of creating the Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada.

Read published reviews. Read discussions in blogs: Sierra ClubBoingboingChris Blanc’s BlogChris Coldewey OnlineJakedogLeft of the AltarFuturatronicsArt Predator, See the September 29th, 2007 interview on KRON TV. See slideshow of presentation to CNPS in Monterey.

Additional information

Weight20.48 oz
Dimensions8.5 × 4.5 × .8 in

8 reviews for The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada

  1. Tom

    I live in Yosemite worked for a short time as an interp ranger (or to use the old term, a ranger naturalist). Every naturalist I know in the Yosemite area owns a copy. Many of us own multiple copies (a car copy and a backpack copy, for example). This field guide manages to include the vast majority of species you are most likely to find while also making it relatively easy to find the plant or insect that is before you. It is unquestionably the most useful single volume field guide.

  2. sfnative

    An ideal all-in-one guidebook to the Sierra Nevada natural world. Provides help in identifying flowers, trees, birds, mammals, you name it . . . even fish and insects. In addition, the brief comments at the top of most pages furnishes the sort of trivia that is amusing to peruse even when back at home. Enriches times spent in the Sierras. Since discovering it I wouldn’t want to be without it, and would even consider acquiring a second copy in the event something unfortunate were to happen to the first (but I hope this will available indefinitely).

  3. Backpacker

    This is my favorite guide in the world! The drawings are amazing and makes it easy to identify plants/animals/insects/etc. from them. I’ve identified plants in other areas from this book too. Really comprehensive and just a joy to read! I highly recommend this book (which was recommended to me by a biologist & a geologist)!

  4. Sophie Hanft

    This book is amazing! I used it going on a camping trip recently and it helped identify the different types of plants/insects/animals that we saw. Totally reccomended.

  5. Aaron Rouland

    This is my favorite field guide. I first used it in 2013 during a number of day and overnight hikes. My kids used it this summer while backpacking in the Sierras. It is well worth the weight and will make your trip more memorable.

    I love the fact that it is narrow enough to fit in my pocket. The pages are durable and I don’t think they will get damaged by a little moisture. Mine is still in great condition. It is organized so you can quickly get to the right page. There are so many great illustrations, it is hard to fathom that one person produced them all and organized them so well.

    Keep it handy so whenever you need a short break during a climb, you can pull it out and identify a new plant. Guess what, every time you see that plant for the rest of the trip you will recognize it. Later, you will notice when you stop seeing it, and you will consider whether it is due to altitude, moisture, or other factors. In short, you will start doing what the author wants all his readers to do: observe, wonder, and enjoy nature! Your hike in the Sierras will be so much more fun with this book.

  6. richard (verified owner)

    I have learned so much from this book. My cousins have one at our cabin at Buck’s Lake. I ordered a copy for my friend and now I will order one for me. A great book to have.

  7. Linda

    I just returned from Yosemite, where I attended some ranger-led hikes. The rangers all used this book to identify the plants and animals we saw on our hikes, and to give the participants more info and a closer look. It is a wonderful book! I can’t recommend it enough!

  8. James Patrick Kelly

    A must have book for anyone curious about the natural world of the Sierra Nevada’s. The small size and design layout is perfect for bringing along on day trips, or week long backpacking trips! Identifying and educating yourself about plants and wildlife always starts with the “The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada”

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