Erik Stensland

Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide, a new book by local photographer and author Erik Stensland has been recognized as the Best Travel Book of the Year by the Independent Book Publishers Association at their 32nd annual award ceremony. The ceremony was scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, California but due to the Covid19 crisis was held online on Friday May 8th. Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™ in the Travel Book category. This is regarded as one of the highest national honors for indie publishers and self-published authors. Stensland’s book also shared second place in the Sports and Recreation Category with a book published by the outdoor gear company Patagonia.

"This year's list of IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™ winners rest at the pinnacle of professional independent publishing. These are the best of the best," said Independent Book Publishers Association CEO Angela Bole. This year there were 1,700 entries for the various categories. Each book is judged by a panel of independent specialists from across the country. This year there were 160 book publishing professionals including librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors who judged the books. Every book is evaluated for both its editorial content and its design.

Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide is a new hiking guide for Rocky Mountain National Park published by Rocky Trail Press. It was written to help the growing number of visitors know how to visit the park both safely and responsibly, while truly appreciating the wonder of this national treasure. The first hundred pages of this 500 page guide are dedicated to discussing vital topics such as leave no trace principles, hiking etiquette, buses, dogs, weather, wildlife, etc. The hikes themselves are then arranged from easiest to most difficult beginning with wheelchair accessible trails and ending with Longs Peak. The guide contains 150 color photos, 80 custom made maps, elevation profile graphs and the pages are color-coded to make it easy to use.

This is Stensland's third book to win a Benjamin Franklin Award. In 2015 his book Wild Light: A Celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park received the gold award for best Nature and Environment Book of the Year and a silver in the Coffee Table Book category. In 2018 his book Whispers in the Wilderness won Inspirational Book of the Year. He has also written other books such as a pocket version of this hiking guide, Photographing Rocky Mountain National Park and Memories of Rocky Mountain National Park. He’s currently working on a new inspirational book scheduled to be released in the spring of 2021. Additionally, Stensland produces cards, calendars and a variety of other products, although he is most known for his fine art photographic prints which he sells out of his gallery: "Images of Rocky Mountain National Park" behind Bond Park in downtown Estes Park, at Studio 8369 in Grand Lake, CO and at his “Images of the Desert” gallery in Abiquiu, NM.

Stensland’s books can be found in the Estes Valley at the Images of RMNP gallery, at Macdonald Book Shop, The Rocky Mountain Conservancy bookstores, the Estes Park Museum, Kind Coffee and Peaks Hallmark. Following a distribution agreement with Publishers Group West, these books can now be purchased at bookstores throughout the United States and Canada.

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