Category Archives: National Park Adventures

Stories and images from my many hiking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, and family adventures in national parks in the U.S. and around the world.

November 20, 2014 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

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By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to hike the John Muir Trail, aka “America’s Most Beautiful Trail?” There may be no more gorgeous long backpacking trip, step for step, than a thru-hike of the JMT through California’s High Sierra, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. See why in this photo gallery, then read my story about it and see a video. Then start planning your hike. Continue reading →

November 12, 2014 South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Ask Me: How’s November For Hiking the Grand Canyon?

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Hi Michael:

During the second week of November, a buddy and I are considering a rim or river to rim hike in the Grand Canyon. We are planning to descend South Kaibab Trail, walk along River Trail, and ascend via Bright Angel Trail. Plan would be to start early and complete the hike in the same day. We will carry survival gear. Neither of us has been to the GC. One of us is very experienced (and in excellent physical condition), and one of us has moderate experience (in very good physical condition).

We would appreciate your comments on hiking in November—weather, trail conditions, and anything else that may assist us. We both prefer not to hike in the wet, and neither of us wants anything to do with snow! Also, if November is the wrong month to do this, we would delay until next year. Continue reading →

November 11, 2014 Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

Trekking Patagonia’s Famous Torres del Paine and Little-Known Dientes Circuit

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Trekking in Patagonia is on every serious hiker’s wish list. Tag two classic treks in one two-week visit: See the world-famous granite spires of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park (photo above), then hop a short flight down to the tip of South America for one of the most remote, rarely hiked, and challenging treks in the world, the Dientes Circuit (below). The season for these Southern Hemisphere adventures is around the corner. Continue reading →

November 5, 2014 Horseshoe Mesa, Grand Canyon National Park.

A Matter of Perspective: A Father-Daughter Hike in the Grand Canyon

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By Michael Lanza

The New Hance Trail starts out hard, and then gets really tough. The rugged footpath drops off the South Rim into the Grand Canyon like a ball rolling off a table—4,422 vertical feet in 6.5 miles from the rim to the Colorado River. Most of that relief comes in the first five miles, as the trail wiggles through more switchbacks than a squirrel racks up in a year of crossing streets. Geology magnifies the unmaintained path’s grueling character: It drops over hundreds of knee-jarring, quad-jellying ledges two to three feet high, which can seem endless to someone carrying a backpack.

I imagine it seems especially endless to someone who stands barely more than four-and-a-half feet tall. Continue reading →

October 29, 2014 On the rim of Red Crater in Tongariro National Park, North Island.

4 Top Outdoor Adventures in New Zealand

In Backpacking, Hiking, Hut Treks, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Have you adventured in New Zealand yet? If not, then why not? Some of my all-time favorite assignments for Backpacker magazine have involved trekking and paddling on this island nation with an amazing bounty of natural beauty and a outdoors-loving culture to match it.

This is the time of year to start planning a visit during the upcoming austral summer; for many trips, you need to make travel arrangements and hut reservations months in advance. I’ve listed below a series of five-star, multi-sport adventures that could fill a two-week (or longer) visit to New Zealand. This itinerary includes dayhiking volcanoes, canoeing a wild river, a hut trek in the Southern Alps, and sea kayaking a remote fjord in the country’s largest national park. Click on the links (or any photo) to read the complete story about each trip. Continue reading →

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