Category Archives: Paddling

Stories, photos, and videos from my kayaking, canoeing, and rafting adventures in the U.S. and around the world.

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

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

In Family Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

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 23, 2015 Campsite, Dome Glacier, Ptarmigan Traverse, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades.

Ask Me: How Can You Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment


With sleeping bags, we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.



Continue reading →

September 8, 2015 Michael Lanza on the summit of Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park.

Like The Big Outside? Please Support My Work

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

A little over five years ago, I started this blog and website with a simple goal: to offer stories, photos, and expert trip-planning advice on America’s and the world’s best outdoor adventures—including many that are great for families—based on my on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge from having done all of the trips myself. Since then, it has grown larger than I expected, into a popular online source for gear reviews and my tips on outdoor skills. Perhaps most gratifyingly for me, The Big Outside has inspired families and others to get outdoors.

Now I’m asking you to help support my work on this blog. Continue reading →

September 6, 2015 Hiking in Devils Garden, Arches National Park, Utah.

Ask Me: Tips On Finding ‘More Complicated’ Family Adventures and Hiring Guides

In Ask Me, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Mr. Lanza,

I am writing to ask your advice on how to find more complicated active outdoors experiences for my kids. I live on the East Coast (small town, coastal South Carolina), but as a family we’ve been camping and hiking in the North Carolina mountains for some time now. My children are six and seven, and we are starting to head west to the national parks now that they are older. I love your photos of mountain climbing, bouldering, etc. and I’m wondering if you have suggestions for good places to introduce these activities to kids. We do not have your experience, so I’m guessing we would find a guide and if you have thoughts on that I’d welcome it as well.

I appreciate any time or thoughts, I love your website.

Beaufort, SC Continue reading →

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