Hello, my name is Michael Lanza and The Big Outside is my creation.
Twenty-five years ago, I walked away from a career as a newspaper editor and reporter because I couldn’t bear the thought that my outdoor adventures would be limited by any company’s vacation policy.
I built a new career as an outdoors writer and photographer, author, and speaker, so I could do what I love: getting outside backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, skiing, running trails, and paddling rivers.
That changed my life.
After many years as the Northwest Editor and primary gear reviewer at Backpacker magazine, I launched The Big Outside with a simple mission: to offer stories, images, and expert trip-planning advice on America’s and the world’s best outdoor adventures—including many that are great for families.
Most importantly, these stories are based on my on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge from having done all of the trips myself.
My work has taken me to national parks and wilderness areas across the United States—including numerous visits to most major U.S. parks—and all over the world: the Swiss Alps, Nepal, Scottish Highlands, Italy’s Dolomites, New Zealand, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Patagonia.
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For many years, I’ve made a living identifying, planning, and writing about great trips. I think you’ll find The Big Outside is uniquely authoritative for that reason, and that’s why my blog has ranked on various lists, including USA Today’s Readers Choice list of Top 10 Hiking and Outdoors Bloggers in 2014; eighth on The Adventure Junkies Top 25 Hiking Blogs of 2018 (a list based on objective performance metrics); and one of the best blogs on hiking in the Southwest. I was also asked to sit on a panel of hiking experts who nominated the list of hikes in the 2015 USA Today Readers Choice 10 Best National Parks Hikes poll.
Many stories here are about outdoor adventures with my wife and our son and daughter. A primary goal of mine with The Big Outside is to inspire and inform other parents to take their own kids on outdoor adventures—and especially to believe that their family is capable of stepping out a little beyond their comfort zone. As I have done with my kids, I want other families to discover the powerful emotional payoff and bond achieved through sharing outdoors experiences. See “My Top 10 Family Adventures” and my very popular post “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids” and my “10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You.”
You will find a diverse offering of stories here, describing adventures for everyone from ultra-hikers to families with young kids. Each story about a trip features a gallery of photos, and many stories also have a video.
While some stories (including all gear reviews) are free for anyone to view—and you can receive my email newsletter at no cost—a paid membership gives you complete access to all stories at The Big Outside, including the many stories about trips I’ve taken.
Get exclusive access to all stories at my blog for just pennies over 4 bucks a month.
Wondering where to start? My Trips category in the main menu opens the door to a list of every story about adventures I’ve taken. Or go straight to “My Top 10 Adventure Trips.” My main menu (above) includes links to menus of all of my stories about national park trips and backpacking. See my Gear Reviews page for links to all of my reviews and expert gear-buying tips. I’m constantly testing outdoor gear and apparel and I review only the best of it. See all of my tips on skills I’ve learned over the course of three decades exploring the outdoors, including articles like “The Top 5 Tips For Better Ultralight Backpacking.” See the videos for many stories at this site at my Youtube channel.
Plan your next great backpacking adventure in Yosemite and other flagship parks using my expert e-guides.
At my Book page, learn more about my book Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, from Beacon Press, winner of a National Outdoor Book Award honorable mention, about spending a year embarking on wilderness adventures with my wife, nine-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter in national parks undergoing major upheaval due to climate change.
I can help you plan the best backpacking, hiking, or family adventure of your life. Find out more here.
Comment on my posts; I appreciate the feedback and respond to most comments. Feel free to send your ideas, questions, and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to as many as I can. Please be informed that I do not accept submissions of any kind for this blog.
I hope you enjoy my stories and pictures at The Big Outside and find them both inspirational and helpful in planning your own adventures.
I gave up my first career so I could be outside more. I suspect you’re reading my blog because you love getting outdoors just as much as I do.
Have fun and be safe out there.
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