Hello, my name is Michael Lanza and The Big Outside is my creation. I’m a writer, outdoor photographer, author, speaker, and for many years was the Northwest Editor of Backpacker Magazine, where I was also the magazine’s primary gear reviewer. I’m a longtime hiker, backpacker, climber, backcountry skier, trail runner, paddler, and cyclist. Over the past two decades, my work has taken me to national parks and wilderness areas across the United States—including multiple visits to most major U.S. parks—and all over the world: the Alps, Nepal, Scottish Highlands, Italy’s Dolomites, New Zealand, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Patagonia.
I started The Big Outside with a simple mission: to offer stories, photos, and expert trip-planning advice on America’s and the world’s best outdoor adventures—including many that are great for families. Most importantly, these stories are based on my on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge from having done all of the trips myself.
For many years, I’ve made a living identifying, planning, and writing about great trips. I think you’ll find The Big Outside is uniquely authoritative for that reason, and that’s why my blog made USA Today’s Readers Choice list of Top 10 Hiking and Outdoors Bloggers in 2014.
Many stories here are about outdoor adventures with my wife and our young son and daughter. A primary goal of mine with The Big Outside is to inspire and inform other parents to take their own kids on outdoor adventures—and especially to believe that their family is capable of stepping out a little beyond their comfort zone. As I have done with my kids, I want other families to discover the powerful emotional payoff and bond achieved through sharing outdoors experiences. See my list of all-time “Top 10 Family Adventures” and my very popular post “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids.”
You will find a diverse offering of stories here, describing adventures for everyone from ultra-hikers to families with young kids. Each story about a trip features a gallery of photos, and some stories also have a video.
Wondering where to start? In the left sidebar, you can click on any of several Categories for a focused list of adventure stories, such as National Park Adventures or Family Adventures, my reviews of only the best outdoor gear I’m testing constantly (based on my experience of two decades and counting as a gear tester for Backpacker), and tips on skills I’ve learned over the course of three decades exploring the outdoors. Subscribe to my blog (at left or below) for regular updates when I post a new story. (I promise I won’t ever share your e-mail address.) See the videos for many stories at this site all at my Youtube channel.
Got a question for me? Click on the Ask Me category to see whether I’ve already answered a similar question from another reader; if not, e-mail me your question to email@example.com. I’ll answer as many as I can and share my answers in an Ask Me post (using only your first name and city, with your permission).
At my Book page, you can read an excerpt of my book Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, from Beacon Press, winner of a National Outdoor Book Award honorable mention, about spending a year embarking on wilderness adventures with my wife, nine-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter in national parks threatened by climate change.
If you wish to see more about my professional background and view samples of my published magazine articles, photography, details about the speaking programs I offer, and descriptions of my other books, please visit michaellanza.com.
I hope you enjoy my stories and pictures at The Big Outside and find them both inspirational and helpful in planning your own adventures. I’d love to hear what you think of this site and your suggestions for trips, stories, or how I could improve the site. Please subscribe to my e-mail list at left or below. Comment on my posts; I appreciate the feedback and try to respond to many comments.
To help support what I’m doing, please consider booking your travel through the Book Travel link in the main menu (at top of page), which brings revenue to my site.
Feel free to send your ideas, questions, and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to as many as I can. I occasionally receive requests from people interested in contributing stories to The Big Outside, so please be informed that I do not accept submissions of any kind.
The Big Outside is supported by brands that want to associate with my high-quality stories and images, and I appreciate their support because it helps me keep this site going. If you believe in what I’m doing at The Big Outside, one way to show your support is to like and follow my sponsors on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Read about those brands and how to partner with The Big Outside at my Sponsors page.
Have fun and be safe out there.