Category Archives: Family Adventures

Stories, photos, and videos from our family’s many wilderness adventures hiking, backpacking, skiing, kayaking, rafting, and climbing, including in many U.S. national parks.

February 8, 2016 Angels Landing, Zion National Park

One Incomparable Place: Hiking and Backpacking in Zion National Park

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By Michael Lanza

Even in the Southwest, a region where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, Zion National Park stands out. Other places have natural arches, spires, and ancient cliff dwellings, but no place really matches Zion’s grandeur: cliffs up to 2,000 feet tall stretching for miles, the rock’s purity of white and deep burgundy, and patterns of striations rippling across a span of stone that dwarfs Man’s greatest buildings and monuments. Perhaps that’s why it was Utah’s first national park, designated in the same year, 1919, as Grand Canyon and Acadia. Continue reading →

January 25, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Gallery: Celebrating the Centennial Year of the National Park Service

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By Michael Lanza

When the National Park Service turns 100 on Aug. 25, it will mark not just the diamond anniversary of what writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called “the best idea we ever had”—it marks the evolution and growth of that idea from a handful of parks created in the early days to a system in many ways without parallel, that protects 52 million acres of mountain ranges, canyons, rivers, deserts, prairies, caves, islands, bays, fjords, badlands, natural arches, and seashores in 59 parks. Without that protection, these places that draw visitors from around the world would otherwise almost certainly have been exploited and destroyed. Continue reading →

Photo Gallery: Hiking Mount St. Helens

January 24, 2016  |  In Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Crater rim of St. Helens.

My family at the crater rim of Mount St. Helens, with Mount Adams in the distance.

By Michael Lanza

More than three decades after it erupted, Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, begin in shady, cool, temperate rainforest, but soon emerge onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains. From the crater rim, you get a panorama that could steal the breath away from God. Continue reading →

January 21, 2016 The Dientes Circuit in Chilean Patagonia.

Looking For An Adventure of a Lifetime? Here It Is

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

As we climbed toward Paso Australia, the wind gathered strength, shoving us forward and sideways, spinning us around. As if to suggest that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet, our young Chilean guide, Maurice, warned, “It’s going to be windy up there at Australia Pass.” In fact, at the 2,641-foot (805m) pass, it became hard to stand and walk. We alternately braced ourselves against the most furious gusts and stumbled a few steps forward during lulls of merely howling gales. Billowing clouds skidded across the sky, brushing against a row of stone pinnacles, some of the “Teeth of Navarino,” the peaks that give this remote mountain range its name: Dientes de Navarino. Continue reading →

January 18, 2016 White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

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By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that my son, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which these days often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen to engage in physical activity for hours—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

Even though my kids, now 15 and nearly 13, have dayhiked and backpacked hundreds of miles, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades, and cross-country skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still sometimes encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually still successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →

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