From Max Brand’s westerns and pulp fiction to Frank Herbert’s Dune to Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, serialized stories have long shaped readers’ understanding of California and the West. Alta Serials reinvigorates the form with five-part tales distinguished by heart-thumping action, genuine emotion, and shrewd writing.

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Current Serial

oregon trail, applegate trail
Public Domain

That Damnable Applegate Road’

The Applegate Trail extends more than 500 miles, from southern Oregon to Humboldt, Nevada, and connects the Oregon and California emigrant trails. It was a branch of the longest, most heavily traveled route of western migration in American history, and today has largely dropped from public consciousness. The story of how it was charted begins with three brothers who set out from St. Louis to the Oregon territory in 1843. Ruby McConnell brings the story of the Applegates and other tales of the American West to life through her extensive research of archival material and reporting in her forthcoming book, Wilderness and the American Spirit (Overcup Press, 2024).

Part One: The Road to the Oregon Territory


Part Two: Taken by the River


Part Three: The Road Hunters


Part Four: The End of the Line

Available Monday, June 12

Part Five: History or Old Gossip?

Available Monday, June 19

Recent Serials

alta journal walker expedition, author robert roper, center, guide sp parker, right, and photographer spencer harding, left, set out from grover hot springs on the first day
Tod Seelie

Surviving the Sierra

Follow along as author and Alta contributor Robert Roper retraces Joseph R. Walker’s 1833 crossing of the frozen Sierra Nevada with 60 starving fur trappers and 200 shivering horses.


john francis daly
William Deverell

Finding Francis

Alta Journal is pleased to present the first installment of a five-part original series by historian and longtime Alta contributor William Francis Deverell. The twisty, suspenseful story of the disappearance of Deverell’s great-uncle Francis, it begins in snowy upstate New York before moving to Europe and Los Angeles. As Deverell searches for his missing namesake, he discovers more than he bargained for.


marianne wiggins, properties of thirst
Dustin Snipes

Properties of Thirst

With the publication of this excerpt from Properties of Thirst, Alta Journal is pleased to begin a five-part serialization of the opening section of the new novel by National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist Marianne Wiggins.