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.
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 →
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 →
Some friends and I are planning to do the Zion National Park thru-hike in October, partly inspired by one of your posts. We have a pact to do a significant multi-day backpacking trip every year in the fall, and this one would be great. The Zion National Park website says there may be prescribed burns during September-November, and the Wildcat Canyon Trail and the thru-hike will be closed when they burn. At this point, park rangers can’t promise our dates wouldn’t have burns. We’re flying out from Florida. Really want to do the Zion thru-hike. So thinking we’ll stick to that plan, but want to have a Plan B in the same area in case we learn that our trip will be blocked by a prescribed burn. Would love your thoughts on good 3- to 4-day backpacking trips—loop or point to point—in Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bryce, Capitol Reef, or Canyonlands. Continue reading →
Really enjoy your website, thanks for all the info. Have a question for you about the Teton Crest Trail. I know it is first come in the camping zones, but I was wondering if you know what specific spots in the camping zones have the best views from camp or the best views right next to camp. We plan on staying on Death Canyon Shelf zone, in the North Fork and South Fork of Cascade Canyon, as well as either Upper or Lower Paintbrush Canyon. Any help you could give on specific spots within those zones would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Continue reading →
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 →