Peter Stark

Peter Stark

Peter Stark was born in Wisconsin to an adventurous and outdoorsy family and began traveling when young in canoes, on skis, and also by more conventional means. He received a bachelor’s degree in English and anthropology from Dartmouth College and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. After a brief stint in newspapers, and based in Missoula, Montana, he went on to work as a full-time freelance writer specializing in subjects on the outdoors and adventure, exploration history, wilderness and indigenous peoples, and the physiology of the human body under extreme stress.

His articles have appeared in Outside (where he is a long-time correspondent), Smithsonian, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Men’s Journal and many other publications. His books include Driving to Greenland (essays about the Arctic, 1994); Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance (Ballantine Books, 2001); At the Mercy of the River: An Exploration of the Last African Wilderness (Ballantine, 2005); and The Last Empty Places: A Past and Present Journey Through the Blank Spots on the American Map (Ballantine, 2010).


His most recent book, Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America's Founding Father (Ecco/Harpercollins, 2018) presents a new, brash, and unexpected view of our first president two decades before he led America to independence. His previous book, Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire; a Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2014) was a New York Times bestseller and PEN USA literary award finalist. More about Peter Stark’s books, articles, and contact information can be found at


To All the Skis I've Loved Before

Today's well-armed skier boasts of a quiver of skis. I want a single pair of high-performance ones that can do it all.

Peter Stark
Feb 5, 2020

What It Feels Like to Die from Heat Stroke

That glaring sun, of course, is essential for life on this planet. But its thermal energy, which we feel as heat, is a force both benevolent and cruel

Amy Ragsdale and Peter Stark
Jun 18, 2019

Frozen Alive

The Cold, Hard Facts of Freezing to Death

Peter Stark
Jan 24, 2017

Until the Teeth Fall Out of Your Head

One day, during your struggles, you look down at your thigh. You should see a familiar scar from an old childhood wound. But now that scar has begun to pull apart, skin separating, as if the stitched...

Peter Stark
Apr 29, 2014

How to Survive a Scalping

On a forgotten day in 1811, a scalped head would not only shape the American West but refashion the geopolitical future of the entire North American continent.

Peter Stark
Mar 4, 2014

The 10 Worst Ways to Die in the Wild

There are countless ways to meet your end in the great outdoors. These are ten of the most unpleasant, ignominious, and terrifying ways to go.

Scott Rosenfield and Peter Stark
Jun 25, 2013

Home and Away

Peter Stark shares his amazing experiences living abroad in Brazil and traveling in South America for a year.

Peter Stark
Apr 9, 2012

Africa Now

Get ready for the new age of adventure on the world's wildest continent. Whether it's the Ugandan National Kayak Team leading raft trips on the raging White Nile or entrepreneurial young...

Peter Stark, Hal Espen, Ted Botha, and H. Thayer Walker
Jan 4, 2007

Let the Bad Times Roll

Adventure, big and small, is all about risk. The risk that things may go terribly wrong. That danger will finally cut off your credit and hit you with a hefty bill. That luck will flee the scene as...

Peter Stark, Jane Smiley, Jon Lee Anderson, Ken Collins, Bucky McMahon, Skip Horner, Michael Perry, Wells Tower, Michael Behar, Ben Ryder Howe, Daniel Duane, Ace Kvale, Joe Glickman, Mark Levine, and Jason Stevenson
Oct 1, 2005

The Tree Slayer

What does a naive environmentalist discover when he buys his own forest? He's got to log it to save it.

Peter Stark
Aug 1, 2005