Category Archives: Hiking

Stories and pictures from my many dayhiking adventures, from family- and beginner-friendly trails to serious ultra-hiking.

February 11, 2016 Arches National Park, Utah.

Ask Me: What Should We Do on a Trip to Colorado, Yellowstone, and the Southwest?

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Hi Michael,

I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while now, and I really enjoy it. I’ve got three boys that range from 16 to six, so finding things to do that all three can enjoy is a bit of a challenge. My wife and I are in the planning stages of a two-week trip out West. We’re looking at starting right before Memorial Day and then running though the 15th of June. We’re thinking of flying out to Denver and using that as a start/stop point for trips out to Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, etc. The only concern that I have is that it’s a little early in the year and there’s going to be snow still around, limiting some of our hiking options. Another thought I’d had was to head to Mesa Verde and see that park. Any suggestions about weather or options I’m missing? Continue reading →

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 →

February 7, 2016 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm and comfortable while Nordic or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge—we sweat, our bodies and clothes get damp, then we get cold. But it’s not impossible. In fact, as someone who runs hot when moving and cools off quickly—and who gets cold fingers very easily—I’ve learned some tricks over the years that have made getting outdoors in winter vastly more comfortable and enjoyable for me. Follow these tips and you could be more comfortable on cold-weather outdoor adventures, too. Continue reading →

February 1, 2016 Hiking in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Facing the Biggest Challenge Inside: Friendship and Climbing Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park

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By Michael Lanza

A dry, invisible waterfall of heat pours from the desert sky as we follow a footpath through the Wonderland of Rocks, a vast archipelago of granite monoliths and spires floating in an ocean of sand in the backcountry of southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. My friend David and I are in search of one particular crack in one specific stone skyscraper, which feels a little like picking through hundreds of haystacks scattered across a farm in pursuit of one needle.

We high-step through gardens of prickly-pear cacti and other vegetation that has evolved to put a hurt on you for the easy mistake of brushing against it. I pause frequently to consult photos of some of these granite monoliths in my guidebook to help pinpoint our location. I also contemplate—as seems to happen whenever I head out rock climbing for the first time in a while—the complicated human relationship with fear. There’s the natural anxiousness that can accompany trying to claw your way up a sheer cliff. But fear and its antipode, courage, take many forms. One can be so difficult to confront that it destroys lives. The other can save them. 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

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

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 →

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