Skip to main content

Melanie Choukas-Bradley

Photo of Melanie Choukas-Bradley

Melanie Choukas-Bradley is an award-winning author of seven nature books, and an award-winning educator and naturalist. More than forty years ago she moved to Washington, DC from northern New England, bringing with her a love of nature fostered during a Vermont childhood. Melanie enjoys leading Smithsonian Associates trips that highlight the natural beauty of our city and surroundings (and the Dakota badlands!), often weaving in regional history and her latest passion, shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing.”

The Washington Post Book World called Melanie’s first book, City of Trees, “a splendid field guide—practical, botanically sound, and filled with good stories.” The book has been in continuous print for over forty years and has long been considered the definitive guide to the trees of the nation’s capital. Melanie’s fourth book, A Year in Rock Creek Park, won an Independent Publisher’s IPPY silver medal for regional non-fiction. Melanie has been a long-time occasional contributor to The Washington Post and other publications and in 2014 Casey Trees awarded Melanie one of their inaugural Canopy Awards for her efforts to educate people about the historic trees of Washington.

Many of the trips Melanie leads for Smithsonian Associates are based on research she has done for her books. She has led trips to Sugarloaf Mountain and Montgomery County, Maryland’s Agricultural Reserve, sharing research for her two books about Sugarloaf and its surroundings. In the past she has led tours of Rock Creek Park and the historic trees of the Capitol grounds.

Melanie has led nature immersion walks in the Smithsonian Castle’s Enid A. Haupt Garden. Melanie is a certified forest therapy guide and her book, The Joy of Forest Bathing, was given to each participant as part of the registration fee. She also leads trips to Theodore Roosevelt Island, sharing the history and natural history she has learned while researching her latest published book, Finding Solace at Theodore Roosevelt Island (August 2020). Look for nature hikes in the Potomac Gorge as part of her current book project, Exploring the Potomac Gorge.

Melanie believes that an intimate connection with the natural beauty of your own backyard enhances your travels as well as your home life. She appreciates the fact that we are especially blessed with beautiful gardens and parks in and around Washington, DC. In addition to leading trips for Smithsonian Associates, Melanie leads tree tours and nature walks for many other organizations, including the US Botanic Garden, Audubon Naturalist Society (recently renamed Nature Forward), Casey Trees and Politics & Prose.

View upcoming, on-sale tours led by Melanie Choukas-Bradley.