In my National Outdoor Book Award-winning book, Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, from Beacon Press, I write about spending a year taking wilderness adventures with my wife, Penny, our nine-year-old son, Nate, and our seven-year-old daughter, Alex, in national parks that, because of climate change, are likely to be very different places by the time my kids are my age.

Within often-humorous travel narratives about our backpacking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, and canoeing trips in ten parks, I weave the science story about how the warming climate is singularly affecting each park. Based on exhaustive reading of scientific literature and interviews with leading researchers, that more-serious side of my book goes beyond the usual tales of melting glaciers and rising seas to examine the complex interactions of climate, the physical environment, and native flora and fauna. I also contemplate what these changes will mean to future visitors—such as my grown kids, should they someday repeat our adventures.

At this website, you can see my stories, photos, and videos from our family trips for my book in crown jewels of our park system: the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier Bay, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, and Everglades. (By the way, my kids’ favorite trips for this book were Glacier Bay, Olympic coast, Everglades, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone.)

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Michael Lanza

For Media

For information about or a review copy of Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, or to schedule an interview with Michael Lanza, please contact Caitlin Meyer, Publicist, Beacon Press, Boston, (617) 742-2110,

Buy Before They’re Gone

Purchase your copy of Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks at:

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Reviews and Endorsements

Praise for Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, by Michael Lanza:

Before They’re Gone is a beautifully written, moving meditation on the meaning of parenthood, our parks, and the first generation of children to grow up in the age of global warming.”
—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods

“Michael Lanza is a skilled wordsmith and his finely fashioned handiwork is on full display in Before They’re Gone. Lanza takes his wife and two young children to some of the country’s most famous National Parks. They hike, sea kayak, climb, canoe and cross-country ski. It’s a heartwarming narrative of a family and their explorations of wild places. It’s also a cautionary story of what might happen, and is happening, to those spectacular places that they visit as the earth continues to warm.”
National Outdoor Book Awards

“Wilderness adventurers like Lanza are the advance scouts of global warming, bringing back first-hand testimony from pristine landscapes that powerfully corroborates what climate scientists are telling us about our changing planet. But this eyewitness report is much more than an impassioned polemic. It’s that, to be sure, but also an entertaining collection of backcountry anecdotes—surprise encounters with grizzlies, anxious moments on glaciers and wild coastlines, jaw-dropping views from remote summits—that bring climate change to life in a way that’s more palpable and persuasive than any data chart. Above all, Before They’re Gone is a fetching love letter to Mike’s wife, son and daughter, and friends—and to the wild places he treasures as only a hiker, climber, and explorer can.”
—Jonathan Dorn, former editor-in-chief, BACKPACKER

“Delightful… a fresh and engaging way to tell the climate change story.”
—Laura Helmuth, Senior Science Editor, Smithsonian magazine

“Blending anecdotes and ecology lessons, Lanza sheds light on his family’s charming dynamic (from his daughter’s sensible suggestion that they depart from bear territory to his son’s preference to attack the brutes), the wonder of the natural world, and the ethical responsibility we all have to mitigate the forces that are changing our planet ‘faster even than scientists or computer models have anticipated.’ This is a terrific blend of adventure (“Seeing a bison gallop thirty miles an hour—as they can—is like seeing a grand piano suddenly sprout horns and charge you with the speed of a horse.”) and ecological forecasting (and forewarning) that aptly conveys the passion of a devoted outdoorsman, and serves as a wake-up call to the state of our planet.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

“Lanza establishes his profoundly compelling narrative strategy of mixing in-the-moment accounts of their demanding hikes and intrepid Nate and Alex’s exuberant pleasure in nature with scientifically based and heart-clenching observations of ‘climatic anarchy.’… ‘Climate change,’ Lanza wisely concludes, ‘forces us to confront our deepest values.’”

“Lanza is a fine writer and an excellent observer both of nature and of family life, but he expands beyond a family adventure travelogue to chronicle the many ways in which climate change affects the nation’s most extraordinary natural places… a heartbreaking, compelling story.”
AMC Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog

“I grew up in a national park, worked in twelve others and have visited well over two hundred of them. Their values, for people like me, often are taken for granted. In this wonderful book, Michael Lanza’s children learn and experience what is most important about our national parks—the necessity to leave them ‘unimpaired for future generations’—and why.”
—Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park

Media coverage of Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks:

Before They’re Gone wins National Outdoor Book Award.

“Is Yosemite’s Waterfall Disappearing?” at

Interview with Marcia Franklin on “Dialogue” on Idaho Public Television.

Interview with Anne Strainchamps on Wisconsin Public Radio program “45 North” (scroll down to 7/5/13 episode in Archives)

Interview on “To the Best of Our Knowledge” on Wisconsin Public Radio

Washington Post review.

Chicago Tribune story on hiking with kids.

Op-ed about parks and coastal cities in the Seattle Times.

Interview at

Interview with Outside Online’s Raising Rippers blog, and story on the 10 best national park adventures with kids.

Article at The Wilderness Society blog.