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National Outdoor Book Awards

The Prize

The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is one of the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award programs. Click here for our index and the current award winners.

The purpose of the Awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding writing and publishing for books relating to the outdoors, nature, the environment. The National Outdoor Book Awards are administered by a non-profit, educational institution.


Nature Guidebook Category: Winning titles will include identification guides and field books for birds, mammals, plants, etc.

Award Year Title and Author(s)
2005 Snakes of the Southeast by Whit Gibbons and Mike Dorecas
Snakes of the Southeast is an eye-catching new nature guidebook melding good descriptive writing, a dapper design and strikingly crisp photographs. The 52 species of snakes found in the southeast are fully covered: size charts, distribution maps, key identifiers, habitat descriptions. It's all there in one very nicely wrapped package.
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2004 Dragonflies of the North Woods by Kurt Mead
Who doesn't love dragonflies as they flit and flutter about on a warm summer day? Certainly Kurt Mead is smitten. He is the author of this new and exceptionally useful identification guide. Considerable thought has gone into the design of this compact guidebook: sharp and colorful photos, easy-to-use field markings, habitat information, natural history notes, sizing scales, sighting frequencies, and... well, you get the picture. It's a darn good little guide.
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2003 Mammal Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch
Mammal Tracks and Sign is one of the most thorough and complete guides to animal tracking ever published. Going beyond where other books leave off, it combines text, drawings, maps and more than 1,000 color photos to unravel the mysteries of North American mammal tracks and signs. Mark Elbroch has poured himself into this book, writing the text, taking the photos and preparing the drawings. It's a monumental effort and an invaluable reference for anyone who enjoys tracking and viewing wildlife.
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2002 Lichens of North America by Irwin M. Brodo, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff and Stephen Sharnoff
When you spend time in the outdoors you'll see them: rocks with crusty patterned growths of orange and yellow, trees with dangling, wispy dark green beards, and forest floors laid with a soft, creamy, moss-like carpet. They're lichens and this is the book to use to identify them: the first definitive guide to lichens in North America. It's a masterpiece of imagery, text and science. Be prepared: it's comprehensive, nearly 800 pages long, but the authors and publisher have carefully designed it to be useful to all, specialists and novices, alike.
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2001 Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America by Jeffrey Glassberg
This magnificently crafted guidebook is illustrated with vivid color photographs that set a new standard in butterfly identification. It's a guide that can quickly grow on you. In no time, you may find yourself hopelessly hooked and haunting the fields and forests searching for those delicate insects that add so much color to summer afternoons.
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2000 Guide to Marine Mammals & Turtles of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico by Kate Wynne and Malia Schwartz
This is an extraordinarily well done and easy-to-use guidebook that will help you identify marine mammals while traveling the coastal waters of the east. Printed on water-resistant paper, it covers whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, manatee and turtles. It's truly a model guidebook. Each and every detail has been designed with user convenience in mind, from its organization and lay-out, to its photographs and map graphics, to its carefully researched and understandable writing.
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1999 Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains: A Field Guide to the Signs of 70 Wildlife Species by James Halfpenny
In this book, conveniently sized to fit in the back pocket, nationally renowned tracker, Dr. James Halfpenny helps decipher the signs left behind by mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The 145-page guide is a real bargain and includes clear and understandable drawings and concise descriptions of the scats, tracks and gait patterns of 70 Rocky Mountain species.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
1998 A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida by Alan Tennant
Longtime herpetologist Alan Tennant skillfully combines scientific data with straightforward comments and observations to make this book an invaluable resource tool for identifying and appreciating Florida's remarkable snake population. A well crafted and organized guidebook, it has understandable text and crisp, easy-to-use color photographs of every snake described in the book.
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1997 Canoe Country Flora by Mark Stensaas, illustrated by Jeff Sonstegard
Canoe Country Flora covers a choice selection of trees, shrubs and wildflowers in the broad swath of territory extending from Northern Minnesota to Maine. The author has fun with the book, taking a different tact than most identification guides. He describes how to identify plants, of course, but he does so in a light, pleasant style and supplements the text with a fascinating study of plants' natural and cultural histories.
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Honorable Mentions
bulletNature's Strongholds: The World's Great Wildlife Reserves by Laura and William Riley
bulletColorado Nature Almanac: A Month-By-Month Guide to the State's Wildlife and Wild Places by Stephen R. Jones & Ruth Carol Cushman (1998)
bulletThe Raptor Almanac: A Comprehensive Guide to Eagles, Hawks, Falcons and Vultures by Scott Weidensaul (2001)
bulletBird Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch and Eleanor Marks (2002)
bulletThe Rockfishes of the Northeast Pacific by Milton S. Love, Mary Yoklavich, and Lyman Thorsteinson (2003)


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The National Outdoor Book Award Categories
This is a non-profit, educational program. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges consisting of respected outdoor columnists, authors, educators, and book reviewers from throughout the country. In early November, the NOBA committee announces the winners of the nine categories that make up the awards program plus a set of books that achieved honorable mentions. The NOBA awards are given in nine different categories.
bulletChildren's Books
bulletDesign and Artistic Merit
bulletHistory and Biography
bulletInstructional and How-To
bulletNatural History Literature
bulletNature and Environment
bulletNature Guidebooks
bulletOutdoor Adventure Guidebooks
bulletOutdoor Classics
bulletOutdoor Literature

If you like this list of outdoor award winners, you may enjoy these additional lists of award winning books on mountaineering. Check out the winners (and finalists) of the following awards:

American Alpine Literary Award


Banff Mountain Book Awards


Boardman-Tasker Memorial Award for Mountain Literature


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