Category Archives: Family Adventures

Stories, photos, and videos from our family’s many wilderness adventures hiking, backpacking, skiing, kayaking, rafting, and climbing, including in many U.S. national parks.

October 16, 2017 Rock climbing at Idaho's City of Rock National Reserve.

To My Kids: Yes, the Worst Can Happen. Be Careful Out There

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Hi Nate and Alex,

There was a tragic story in the news recently of yet another accomplished young climber who’s now dead. He actually survived an avalanche that killed his girlfriend while they were backcountry skiing in Montana, but he could not endure the avalanche of grief and pain that followed. He took his own life the next day. He was 27, his girlfriend was 23. They were both way too young. It’s unspeakably awful.

This story will probably fly off your radar soon, I know. But I can’t avoid thinking about that terrible double tragedy. For me, it’s a stark reminder of the inherent danger in many outdoor activities I’ve done with you two since you were little—a danger only magnified if we let all that’s fun and rewarding about what we do blind us to the darker reality. A story like this one throws a harsh light on a contradiction I’ve grappled with since you both could walk: The very experiences I know are helping shape you into wonderful young adults also pose a real risk to you. Continue reading →

October 1, 2017 Baron Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Mountain Lakes of Idaho’s Sawtooths

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I may be risking an impassioned debate here, but I think there are very few mountain ranges in America with as many drop-dead, gorgeous high mountain lakes as Idaho’s Sawtooths. In fact, the only ranges that arguably beat out the Sawtooths in that department may be the High Sierra and Wind River Range (and not coincidentally, the three share other similarities, including geology). Over nearly 20 years of wandering around Idaho’s best-known hills, I’ve seen many of those watery jewels. This gallery of photos from many of them may persuade you to agree with me. Continue reading →

September 17, 2017 David Gordon on Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

Great Hike: Angels Landing, Zion National Park

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

By Michael Lanza

Thrilling, scenic, and popular, an impressive feat of trail building, an intimidating and exposed scramble—these are some of the descriptions commonly given to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, all of them accurate. Constructed nearly a century ago, with steps carved out of rock and chain handrails in places to make it safer, it’s a tribute to a time when park managers were more comfortable with engineering nature for human recreation. The result is one of the classic dayhikes in the National Park System, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and one that should be in the sights of every avid hiker. Continue reading →

September 13, 2017 Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The 5 Rules About Kids I Broke While Backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“I’m dying!” my son, Nate, bellowed to the entire forest in the Wild Basin of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. “This pack is too heavy!” We were just 30 minutes up the trail at the outset of a three-day backpacking trip. It was a trip that seemed like an unmitigated disaster for the first two days—then morphed into an adventure my kids remember fondly, and that helped expand their outdoor interests.

For me, those three days in Rocky serve as a reminder about the many ways you can do it wrong when taking kids outdoors, but how simple it is to make it right. Continue reading →

September 11, 2017 A hiker atop Zeacliff in the White Mountains, N.H.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

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

By Michael Lanza

The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of bugs, and fall foliage color. Autumn also stands out as an ideal season for many canyon hikes, with moderate temperatures and even some stunning color.

From Yosemite to the White Mountains (lead photo, above), Grand Canyon to Grand Teton, the Great Smokies to the Olympics, and more, here are 10 of my favorite backpacking trips that are best served up in fall.
Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker