Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon.
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Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop

The Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop stands out even in a park where just about any hike would make almost anyone’s top 10 list. See why.

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop
Below the East Face of Mount Whitney on summit day.
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Climbing California’s Mount Whitney

What’s it like to climb a mountaineering route up the highest peak in the Lower 48… with your kid? Climbing California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney.

Climbing California’s Mount Whitney
Lower Yellowstone Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
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10 Favorite National Park Adventures With Kids

Our national parks offer a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable experiences—many of them accessible, safe, and really fun for families. See these 10 favorites.

10 Favorite National Park Adventures With Kids

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Gear Review: Exped DreamWalker 450 Sleeping Bag

June 29, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Exped DreamWalker 450

Exped DreamWalker 450

Sleeping Bag
Exped DreamWalker 450
$349, 2 lbs. 1 oz. (medium)
Sizes: medium (fits up to 5 feet, 11 ins.), large (fits up to 6 feet, 5 ins.)
backcountry.com

On a cool, early morning at Numa Creek camp on the Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park, I told my wife I was heading for the camp’s cooking area to fire up our stove for breakfast. She responded in her way of letting me know she wasn’t getting up yet: “It’s cold out there.” I said, “That’s why I’m staying in my bag.” And I was: Within seconds, I converted my DreamWalker 450 bag into a long down parka and proceeded to wear it walking and sitting around in camp. Continue reading →

June 28, 2016 Wanda Lake, in the Evolution Basin on the John Muir Trail.

Planning to Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail? Do It Right on This 10-Day, Ultralight Plan

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After thru-hiking it in a week (read my story about that and see more photos and a video from the JMT), I became convinced that—while a week was very hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221-mile trip out over three weeks or more has a serious flaw: Because of limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries or other problems that cut short your trip.

Over the years, I’ve evolved from being one of those traditional, heavy-pack backpackers to traveling as light as absolutely possible, and the John Muir Trail is perfect for an ultralight strategy because of its generally dry, late-summer weather, well-constructed footpath, and moderate grades. Continue reading →

June 27, 2016 Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park.

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking in the North Cascades National Park Complex

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

On my first trip to North Cascades National Park, I was sure I’d found heaven. The hard-earned views of a sea of jagged spires and snow- and ice-covered peaks stretching as far as you could see instantly cemented the place as one of my favorite mountain ranges. I’ve returned many times, backpacking, climbing, ski mountaineering, and dayhiking and backpacking with my family. But not many hikers and backpackers know much about Washington’s North Cascades, one of America’s least-visited national parks. I think the gallery of photos below from my various trips there will persuade you to put this park high on your list. Continue reading →

June 26, 2016 The Narrows, Zion National Park.

My 10 Most-Read Stories at The Big Outside

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Which story of mine first led you to this blog? Which stories here interest you the most? (I’d really appreciate reading your answers to those questions in the comments section below this story.) I can tell you what your fellow readers of The Big Outside come to my blog looking for. I’ve compiled here a list of the 10 most-read stories over the past several months at The Big Outside. It includes feature-length stories about the adventures my readers most want to do, and some of my articles of tips on outdoor skills to help you make every trip a success.

Click on any headline on the list below to see that full story. You may find it useful as you plan your next adventure.
Continue reading →

June 23, 2016 Alex hiking Monitor Ridge, Mt. St. Helens

5 Tricks For Getting Tired Kids Through a Hike

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

By Michael Lanza

After hiking 1,000 vertical feet uphill on the dusty Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley, baking under a thermonuclear Sierra sun, we sat on rocks for a snack and a much-needed break. My seven-year-old daughter, unprompted, blurted out, “I’m tired and hungry!” My nine-year-old son was still fuming over having been woken up earlier than he prefers (which is 11 a.m.) for this hike—although we were broiling in the sun precisely because we didn’t start even earlier, when it was cooler. He groused, “If you’re going to wake me up that early, it’s your fault if I complain.”

It was looking like my plan to hike my kids and my 12-year-old nephew 3,000 feet and nearly four miles uphill to the brink of Upper Yosemite Falls—and then, of course, back down—was on the express bus to the graveyard for dumb ideas from overzealous hiker-dads.

 

Continue reading →

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