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.

April 23, 2015 Hannegan Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park.

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking North Cascades National Park

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By Michael Lanza

On my first trip to North Cascades National Park, I was sure I’d found heaven. The hard-earned views of a sea of jagged spires and snow- and ice-covered peaks stretching as far as you could see instantly cemented the place as one of my favorite mountain ranges and parks. I’ve returned many times, backpacking, climbing, ski-mountaineering, and with my kids (the photo above shows my daughter, Alex, then seven, hiking to Hannegan Pass). But not many hikers and backpackers have visited or know much about the North Cascades. So to celebrate National Parks Week at The Big Outside, I offer this gallery of photos to persuade you to put this park high on your list. Continue reading →

April 20, 2015 Hiking above Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park.

Photo Gallery: Celebrating National Parks Week

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By Michael Lanza

This is National Parks Week, a good time to contemplate the writer and historian Wallace Stegner’s famous quote: “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Are you planning to visit a national park this week or this year? It’s time to get busy making that happen. Here’s a gallery of photos from parks I’ve visited (including Mount Rainier, photo above) to offer a little inspiration. Continue reading →

April 19, 2015 Hiking Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

One Photo, One Story: A Family Hike Up Angels Landing in Zion National Park

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By Michael Lanza

Just a few weeks ago, en route to a family backpacking trip down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border, we had a few hours to kill in Zion National Park—a great place to kill a few hours. So we took a late-afternoon, family stroll on one of the most beloved and thrilling dayhikes in the National Park System, Angels Landing. Besides having beautiful weather, gorgeous light for the incomparable views of Zion Canyon, and few other hikers at that time of day, the outing marked a fun, little family anniversary: nine years since the first time we hiked Angels with our son, when he was five. Continue reading →

April 7, 2015 Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Video: Sea Kayaking Alaska’s Glacier Bay

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By Michael Lanza

Sea kayaking and wilderness-beach camping on a five-day trip in Johns Hopkins Inlet, in Alaska’s Glacier Bay, my family saw sea otters, seals, uncountable numbers of sea lions, bald eagles, puffins, and countless other birds, mountain goats—and a brown bear (from a healthy distance). We listened to the concussive explosions of enormous chunks of ice calving from giant glaciers into the sea. For a fleeting handful of days, we had a glimpse of what the Earth was like during the last Ice Age.

Continue reading →

April 6, 2015 Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

No Straight Lines: Backpacking and Hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

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By Michael Lanza

We follow a zigzagging line of stone cairns over waves of slickrock in the backcountry of the Needles District of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Cliffs and 300-foot-tall sandstone candlesticks tower around us, in more shades of red than Crayola has yet replicated, glowing in the warm afternoon sunshine of late March. Five adults and four kids from three families, we traverse slabs, scramble in single file up the smooth, dry bottom of a narrow water runnel, and pump out calf muscles walking straight up steep ramps. In the desert Southwest, trails haven’t learned the axiom of Euclidian geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We’re navigating a maze without walls. Continue reading →

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