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.

October 1, 2015 Peek-a-Boo Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Video: Utah’s Slot Canyons Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch

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By Michael Lanza

Send four kids age 10 to 12 through a tight, slot canyon where they have to pull themselves over short pour-offs, duck through natural arches, and twist and contort their bodies to squeeze between wildly curved walls that frequently narrow to just inches wide, and they hardly stop gushing about it. “Wow, this is so cool!” “That’s amazing!” “Awesome!” We heard a lot of that when my friend Justin Hayes and I hiked Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with our kids. Watch this video and you’ll see why. Continue reading →

September 29, 2015 Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The 5 Rules About Kids I Broke While Backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“I’m dying!” my son, Nate, bellowed to the entire forest in the Wild Basin of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. “This pack is too heavy!” We were just 30 minutes up the trail at the outset of a three-day backpacking trip. It was a trip that seemed like an unmitigated disaster for the first two days—then morphed into an adventure my kids remember fondly, and that helped expand their outdoor interests.

For me, those three days in Rocky serve as a reminder about the many ways you can do it wrong when taking kids outdoors, but how simple and easy it is to make it right. Continue reading →

September 28, 2015 Cliffside Rapid, Middle Fork Salmon River, Idaho.

Big Water, Big Wilderness: Rafting Idaho’s Incomparable Middle Fork Salmon River

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By Michael Lanza

Standing on the rocky bank of Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, deep within the second-largest U.S. wilderness outside Alaska, my 14-year-old son, Nate, and I look down at the foaming, frothing, spitting energy of Marble Rapid—the first big whitewater of our six-day rafting and kayaking trip down one of the world’s premier wilderness rivers. One of our guides, Matt Leidecker, points to the rapid’s entrance, where the river makes a hard, 90-degree right turn at a “hole,” a depression where the roaring current recirculates powerfully enough to toss a person in a kayak around like a bathtub toy. “I’ve seen that hole keep kayaks,” he warns us. Continue reading →

September 27, 2015 Mark Fenton on Mount Clay in New Hampshire's Presidential Range.

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

Around 9 a.m., some five-and-a-half hours into a 20-mile, nine-summit dayhike over some of the most rugged trails in America, my friend Mark Fenton and I strode up onto what may be the country’s quietest summit that lies just a short walk from one of the country’s busiest summits. From the alpine crown of 5,533-foot Mount Clay in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, which we had to ourselves on that morning, we looked out over the boulder piles that comprise the Northern Presidentials and the yawning, 3,000-foot-deep chasm that is the valley called the Great Gulf.   Continue reading →

September 14, 2015 Near Frying Pan Trail.

Photo Gallery: Exploring the Wild Playground of Capitol Reef National Park

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By Michael Lanza

Only in southern Utah, home to America’s greatest concentration of national parks, could a place like Capitol Reef National Park remain relatively unknown. But that’s good for those of us who like parks where you see few other people on the trails—if any—and where the scenery just keeps getting more unbelievable around every bend. Through many visits over the years, including two with my family, I’ve had the opportunity to explore much of its backcountry, from the wild contours of rippled sandstone towers to the tightest slot canyons. And our kids have loved our adventures here. Continue reading →

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