Michael Lanza

Backpackers west of Sunrise on the Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

The Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park

By Michael Lanza

Among hikers and backpackers, Mount Rainier National Park may be best known for the Wonderland Trail, which makes a 93-mile loop around Mount Rainier—the 14,411-foot volcano that Washingtonians refer to simply as “The Mountain.” The Wonderland constantly ascends to sub-alpine meadows exploding with wildflowers, with Rainier’s gleaming, white slopes repeatedly popping into view, and plunges into valleys carved by glacial rivers in a rainforest of giant trees.

But one doesn’t have to embark on a multi-day hike to enjoy those vistas. You reach some of the best scenery in America’s fifth national park on dayhikes.

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A backpacker just north of Jackass Pass in the Cirque of the Towers. in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The Best Backpacking Trip in the Wind River Range? Yup

By Michael Lanza

As my friend Chip Roser and I reach Pyramid Lake, in a magnificent stone bowl at 10,571 feet in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, nestled below its namesake peak and the attention-grabbing, soaring face of the 12,000-footer Mount Hooker, the overcast grows increasingly darker. We both look up at the sky, probably sharing the same thought: wondering when the thunderstorms and strong winds the forecast had warned of would finally catch us out here; and hoping to stay dry at least until getting our tents up—and with luck, until after we’ve eaten dinner.

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A backpacker on the Tonto Trail on the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop.

How to Get a Permit to Backpack in the Grand Canyon

(Spoiler Alert: It Has Changed for 2024)

By Michael Lanza

First-time backpackers in the Grand Canyon quickly absorb two lessons about this one-of-a-kind place. Foremost, the canyon’s infinite vistas and deceptive scale, the beauty of desert oases and wildflower blooms, the peacefulness and quietude of some of the best wilderness campsites you will ever enjoy—all of these qualities will hook you forever.

And you learn how difficult it can be to get a permit for backpacking there.

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Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The Best Headlamps of 2024

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness (whether intentionally or not). But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Weight? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail.

The 5 Best Backpacking Trips in Grand Teton National Park

By Michael Lanza

Here’s a truth I’ve learned from more than 20 visits to the Tetons since my first backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail three decades ago: That incomparable, jagged skyline of peaks never fails to ignite a sense of awe and joy. Walking for days through these mountains, with their endless fields of wildflowers, long alpine vistas, and hypnotic mountain lakes, creeks, and waterfalls never grows old. I’m pretty sure I could backpack through Grand Teton National Park 20 more times without the experience ever growing ordinary.

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