“My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago” Book

A Celebration of Chicagoland's Startling Natural Wonders

A Chicago Photography Book by Mike MacDonald
An inspirational coffee table photography book for discovering nature close to home
Forewords by: Bill Kurtis & Stephen Packard

There is much to admire in MacDonald’s book filled with glorious, full-color photographs. . .It is celebratory, soulful, and poetic.—Publishers Weekly

I can imagine many people saying, ``This book changed my life.``
—Stephen Packard, world-renowned conservationist

MacDonald’s work is shock and awe: page after page of arresting images. . .We are all in his debt and should hope that he will produce another such exquisite tome.
—Windy City Reviews

The book "My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago: A Celebration of Chicagoland's Startling Natural Wonders" by Mike MacDonald
Wild bergamot, Culver's Root, and Rosinweed combine in July to resemble a fireworks display at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinios. White Culver's root seem to shoot upward like rockets, while bergamot appear as explosions of lavender.


“It is inconceivable that anyone will ever match MacDonald’s gorgeous photography, insightful commentary, and astonishing commitment to Chicagoland’s natural landscapes. . .We are all in his debt.”—Windy City Reviews (Click to read full review.)

In this Chicago photography book entitled My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago, photographer and humorist, Mike MacDonald, takes you on a trip to Chicago’s wild side—a verdant, untamed Chicago that has been there all along, just waiting to be explored. MacDonald combines breathtaking images and imaginative prose to lead you on an adventure into enchanted and faraway lands located just up the road. From kaleidoscopic tallgrass prairies to the verdant canopies of rare oak savannas, from the miniature realm of the bumble bee to the mysterious world of the clandestine coyote, startling photographs of a vast and wild Chicago evoke shock and delight with every turn of the page.

“There is much to admire in MacDonald’s book filled with glorious, full-color photographs. . .This impressive, cloth-bound debut is a lucid perspective on the prairie and its native plants and animals; it is celebratory, soulful, and poetic. . . His ornate and thoughtful prose creates an easily grasped and truly memorable reflection. . .”—Publishers Weekly (Click to read full review.)

MacDonald’s contagious enthusiasm and decades comedy experience are channeled into inventive essays, captions, and poetry that engage the imagination and add richness to your journey. This inspirational volume is a magical portal that invites readers to cross the threshold, to get off their couches and to abandon their screens, to come out into nature and play.


In our fast-pace world of technology, where populations are becoming more urbanized and life is increasing experienced on electronic screens, people are losing their connection to nature. Yet nature is all around us, especially if you live in the Chicago area. But few Chicagoans know it’s there.

There are more than 350 square miles of natural area within about an hour’s drive of downtown Chicago. That’s more nature than twenty-nine national parks, including Arches, Acadia, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. 

From kaleidoscopic prairies to the open canopies of rare oak savannas, my photographs convey the marvels of the every day, yet a magnificence that rivals any place in the world. Insiders of the local nature community are keenly aware that the prairie, on which Chicago was built, still thrives in stunning expanses, but this fact remains a surprise to millions.

Unfortunately, you cannot love and support something that you don’t know about, which is why he created this book. Mike has made it his mission to play matchmaker, to introduce Chicagoans to that gorgeous neighbor next door and to spark thousands and thousands of love affairs.

Over twenty years in the making, this book is Mike’s gift to the world. It is his contribution towards transforming the mindsets of current and future generations by helping people of all ages discover the great outdoors and to foster a new era of biologists and botanists, nature-minded voters and volunteers, and environmentally-friendly business and political leaders.

At Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois, pearl blossoms of foxglove beardtongue catch the morning rays and a new day awakens—one as splendid and picturesque as any place on Earth.
At the colorful end of a winter day, a solitary coyote crosses a partially frozen Saganashkee Slough.


This 12.25 x 12.25″, 240-page, full-color, hardcover, coffee table book about Chicago features more than 200 photographs, most of which are page-filling landscape images that swallow you up into the scene. Twenty-two essays and poems explore Chicago’s unique habitats and species, including the smells, the seasons, and worlds big and small. Twenty-four specially selected locations from the Chicago Wilderness region are also featured, bordered by the Lake Michigan shore to the east, Chiwaukee Prairie (just north of the Illinois border), as far south as Kankakee and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, southwest to a prairie in Lockport, west to Batavia, and northwest into McHenry County.

The Fine Details:

ISBN-10: 0-9963119-0-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-9963119-0-8
Hardcover: Smythe-sewn, purple cloth with silver debossing
Dimensions: 12.25 x 12.25 x 1 inches
Page Count: 240
Weight: 5.2 lbs.
Images: 205 full-color photos using wide-gamut inks and finished with a spot varnish
Book Jacket: Laminated and full-color using wide-gamut inks
Illustrations: Locator map (2-page, full-color)
Packaging: Shrink Wrapped
Publication Date: 12/21/2015