Category Archives: Backpacking

Stories and images from the best backpacking trips in America and the world, with trip-planning advice based on my personal, on-the-ground knowledge from having done the trip.

Take a Top 5 Southwest Backpacking Trip: Paria Canyon

December 11, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
A backpacker in Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona.

My son, Nate, backpacking Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona.

By Michael Lanza

Walls of searing, orange-red sandstone towered hundreds of feet overhead in a chasm at times no more than a dozen strides across. A shallow river flowed like very thin chocolate milk down the canyon, spanning it from wall to wall in spots. And the spectacle had only just begun: We were mere hours into the first day of one of the most continually stunning, multi-day canyon hikes in the Southwest: Paria Canyon. Continue reading →

December 10, 2018 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   18 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm while Nordic, downhill, or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge: We sweat, our clothes get damp, then we get cold. But as humans have known for thousands of years, it’s a matter of smartly managing and insulating our body’s furnace (and today we have much better technical clothing than animal skins). As someone who runs hot when moving, cools off quickly, and gets cold fingers and toes easily, I’ve learned many tricks over nearly four decades of getting out in the backcountry in frigid temperatures. Follow these tips and you will be vastly more comfortable outdoors in winter.

Continue reading →

12 Photos From 2018 That Will Inspire You to Get Outdoors

December 3, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
A hiker on the Observation Point Trail in Zion National Park.

Todd Arndt on the Observation Point Trail in Zion National Park.

By Michael Lanza

What adventures did you take in 2018 that inspired you? I hope you enjoyed at least a few. I did. The 12 photos in this story are favorite images from some of the trips I took over the past year. They included hiking in Zion (twice) and Bryce Canyon national parks; backpacking off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in spring and returning in fall to dayhike the canyon rim to rim to rim over two magnificent days; rock climbing in Yosemite; backpacking and scrambling peaks in Idaho’s Sawtooths; and putting an exclamation point on the year with a 90-mile traverse of Glacier National Park on the Continental Divide Trail.

Scroll through these photos, each of which is accompanied by a short anecdote from the trip and links to existing stories at The Big Outside. I hope they help inspire you to start planning your adventures for 2019. After all, these are the experiences that give meaning to our lives. Continue reading →

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop

November 26, 2018  |  In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

Jeff Wilhelm at a waterfall on the Patio, Deer Creek Trail, Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

The heat presses in from all sides as we hike down the Bill Hall Trail off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The overhead sun feels as if it has expanded to a supernova threatening to engulf the planet. The rocks radiate waves of heat up at us; I wonder if they might actually reach egg-frying temperature today. Even the air seems to be rising to a boil like a vast kettle on a stove. We hike cautiously over broken stones that slide underfoot, leaning out onto our trekking poles for the two- and three-foot ledge drops on this path—which appears better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates hauling backpacks weighed down with gear, food, and a surplus of a rare element out here: water. Continue reading →

November 19, 2018 Day two backpacking The Narrows in Zion National Park.

The 5 Southwest Backpacking Trips You Should Do First

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

By Michael Lanza

You want to explore the best backpacking in America’s desert Southwest, but you’re not sure where to begin, or how some of these trips you’ve read about compare for scenery and difficulty. You’ve heard about the need to carry huge loads of water, and environmental challenges like dangerous heat, rugged terrain, flash floods and even (gulp) quicksand. Or maybe you’ve taken one or two backpacking trips there and now you’re hungry for another one and seeking ideas for where to go next.

Well, I gotcha covered. The five trips described in this story comprise what might be called a Southwest Backpacking Starter Package. They are all beginner- and family-friendly in terms of trail or route quality, access, and navigability, and some have good water availability. But most importantly, regardless of their relative ease logistically, they all deliver the goods on the kind of adventure and scenery you go to the Southwest hoping to find. Continue reading →

← Older posts