James Edward Mills

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Edwards Mills (born 1966)[1][2] is an African American author, freelance journalist, outdoor guide and independent media producer.[3]

Mills wrote The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors. He has contributed to publications including National Geographic, Rock & Ice and Alpinist.[4][5] Mills was one of the creative minds behind An American Ascent, a documentary chronicling the first all African American ascent of Denali, North America's highest peak.


Growing up in Los Angeles, California, Mills developed an interest in the outdoors through his participation in a local Boy Scout troop.[6] He subsequently started an outdoor focused career in 1989, spending time as a guide, outfitter, and sales rep.[7]

In 2013, alongside Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin and Jeanne O’Brian of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Mills helped organize the first all African American expedition to successfully summit Denali, North America's highest peak.[8] Mills intended to take part in the bid for Denali's peak, but a hip replacement operation prevented him from joining the summit team.[9] A documentary about the Denali expedition entitled: An American Ascent was subsequently produced. Mills acted as a cowriter and coproducer on this production.[5]

In 2014, Mills authored The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors, which explores the difficulties minorities face when seeking to utilize the nation's outdoor resources while highlighting role models who found ways to participate in outdoor recreation despite these barriers.[8][10] Mills has also contributed to a variety of publications including National Geographic, Rock & Ice and Alpinist. He is the founder of "The Joy Trip Project", a blog, reporting and podcast series focused on outdoor recreation.[7]

Through the University of Wisconsin's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Mills taught a summer course entitled: 'Outdoors for All'.[11] This course focused on exploring historical barriers to diversity in the outdoors and finding solutions to make access to the outdoors more equitable.[12]

Awards & honors[edit]

Published works[edit]


  • The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors, Seattle: 2014. ISBN 9781594858680.[17]

Selected articles[edit]

  • Here's how national parks are working to fight racism (2020)[18]
  • These people of color transformed U.S. national parks (2020)[19]
  • Opinion: Built on smoke (2020)[20]
  • No Pain, No Change (2019)[21]
  • The Force of the Soul: Hugues Beauzile (2018)[22]
  • Polar Explorer Eric Larsen Begins Attempt to Bike to the South Pole (2012)[23]
  • Wired - Exploring The Adventure Gap (2012)[24]


Credited as a cowriter and coproducer on the production.

  • Breaking Trail (2021)[27]

Credited as a coproducer on the production.


An American Ascent won Best Feature Film at the Mountain & Adventure Film Festival.[25] It was also won Best Documentary and Best Director at the San Diego Black Film Festival.[28][25] The film was privately screened at the White House in June 2015.[29]

Breaking Trail was an Official Selection for the 2021 Banff Mountain Film Festival.[27] In 2022, Breaking Trail won Best Mountain Culture Film at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Fest, Eric Moe Best Short Film Award at the Environmental Film Festival, Best Short Film at the Frozen River Film Festival and Best Short Film (People's Choice) at the Boulder International Film Festival.[30]


In 2020, Outside Magazine named The Adventure Gap one of the 10 "Outdoor Books that Shaped the Last Decade".[31][32]


  1. ^ Congress, The Library of. "LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies (Library of Congress)". id.loc.gov. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  2. ^ "310614346". viaf.org. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  3. ^ "James Edward Mills". Center for Humans & Nature. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  4. ^ a b "Backstage Live with James Edward Mills". National Geographic. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  5. ^ a b "James Edward Mills". Mountainfilm. 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  6. ^ "The Adventure Gap: Q&A with Author James Edward Mills — Washington Trails Association". www.wta.org. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  7. ^ a b c d e "About The Joy Trip Project". The Joy Trip Project. 2018-01-21. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  8. ^ a b "Outdoors for All: An Interview with James Edward Mills - National Forest Foundation". www.nationalforests.org. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  9. ^ "The Adventure Gap and Narratives of Inclusion: James Edward Mills talks about why the face of outdoor adventure must change - Alpinist.com". www.alpinist.com. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  10. ^ Mills, James. "The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors". The Mountaineers. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  11. ^ "'Outdoors for All': Summer course explores efforts to make recreation and conservation more diverse and inclusive - Nelson Institute | News". nelson.wisc.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  12. ^ "The Nelson Institute". nelson.wisc.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  13. ^ a b "JORDAHL PUBLIC LANDS LECTURE: LAND STORIES: VOICES OF THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE". In Common. 2020. Retrieved 2021-02-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ O'Brien, Jeanne (March 2016). "James Mills Receives Paul K. Petzoldt Award for The Adventure Gap book". SNEWS. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  15. ^ "Familiar Faces, Important Places". River Alliance of WI. 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  16. ^ Mills, James Edward. "The Buffalo Soldiers' Overlooked Role in Preserving Our Public Lands". Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  17. ^ Mills, James Edward (2014). The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors. Mountaineers Books. ISBN 978-1-59485-868-0.
  18. ^ "How can the National Park Services work to be anti-racist?". Travel. 2020-06-23. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  19. ^ Mills, James (2020-06-23). "Here's how national parks are working to fight racism". National Geographic. Retrieved 2021-04-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Mills, James Edward (9 June 2020). "Opinion: Are we setting the stage for real change, or is history repeating itself?". SNEWS. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  21. ^ Mills, James Edward (18 June 2019). "The road to a more diverse outdoor industry". SNEWS. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  22. ^ "The Force of the Soul: Hugues Beauzile - Alpinist.com". www.alpinist.com. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  23. ^ "Polar Explorer Eric Larsen Begins Attempt to Bike to the South Pole". Adventure. 2012-12-17. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  24. ^ "Wired - Exploring The Adventure Gap - Alpinist.com". www.alpinist.com. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  25. ^ a b c "An American Ascent". An American Ascent. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  26. ^ "An American Ascent". Collective Eye Films. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  27. ^ a b "2021/22 World Tour Films". www.banffcentre.ca. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  28. ^ Adams, Casey. "'An American Ascent' Earns Best Picture, Best Director". blog.nols.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  29. ^ "The White House Screens AN AMERICAN ASCENT". An American Ascent. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  30. ^ "credo nonfiction". Credo Nonfiction. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  31. ^ "James Mills". Earth Day 2022. 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  32. ^ "These Books Changed the Outdoor World This Decade". Outside Online. 2019-12-25. Retrieved 2022-04-18.

External links[edit]