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.

March 27, 2017 Grand Teton National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Amazing National Park Adventures (And How To Pull Them Off)

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Yellowstone. Yosemite. Grand Canyon. Glacier. Zion. Grand Teton. These names are iconic to people who love exploring America’s national parks. And beyond those flagship parks are dozens more units of the National Park Service (53 more, to be precise) creating infinite opportunities to hike, backpack, kayak, canoe, climb a mountain, fish, or just gape in blissful awe at the scenery. But where do you begin, and what should you or your family do?

In 2016, the centennial of the National Park Service, national parks saw a third consecutive year of record visitation—331 million people. That’s actually greater than the entire population of the United States. And that record came on the heels of two previous high marks: 307.2 million visitors in 2015 and 292.8 million in 2014. That many people can’t be wrong.

Will you visit at least one park this year? It’s time to think about which one to put on the calendar for 2017.

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March 20, 2017 Hiking to Furcela dia Roa on the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Puez-Odle, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

Photo Gallery: Trekking the Alta Via 2 Through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains

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By Michael Lanza

Hiking toward a mountain pass named Furcela dia Roa, on the first day of my family’s weeklong, hut-to-hut trek on the Alta Via 2 in northern Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, we stopped in an open meadow of grass and wildflowers overlooking a deep, verdant valley in Puez-Odle Natural Park. Across the valley loomed a wall of cliffs topped by jagged spires, like a castle a thousand feet tall. I looked at our map and back up at the stone wall before us, puzzled. After a moment, I realized: We have to get over that wall.

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March 16, 2017 Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   108 Comments

By Michael Lanza

As we neared Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, on the middle day of a three-day family backpacking trip, a man and woman in their fifties stopped to talk with us. They sized up our kids and smiled; Nate was nine and Alex was seven. “We’re impressed!” they told us. “We never had any luck trying to get our kids to backpack when they were young.” We chatted a bit and then headed off in opposite directions on the trail.

After they were out of earshot, Alex turned to me, wanting to clarify a point: “You didn’t get us to do this,” she told me. “We wanted to do it.” Her words, of course, warmed my heart. But her comment also spotlighted the biggest lesson for parents hoping to raise their kids to love the outdoors: Create experiences that make them eager to go out again the next time. Continue reading →

March 14, 2017 Kerrick Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

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Hi Michael,

On the hike out from Mount Sopris, near our Aspen, Colorado, home, my husband commented that it feels like time to invest in lighter-weight backpacking gear to ease up the wear and tear on our bodies. Our kids are ages nine and 11, and backpacking as a family is an important part of our lives. Recently, we upgraded our mountain bikes (cushy suspension, etc.) so that we could still happily bike with our kids; it seems like we need to do the same with our backpacking equipment. Knowing that you are in touch with the latest gear compared to our old stuff, what would you recommend as the most important things to upgrade, with weight in mind? Continue reading →

March 6, 2017 Hiking the Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

5 Great Southwest Hiking Trips You Can Take This Spring (Even If You Haven’t Planned Ahead)

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

By Michael Lanza

The Grand Canyon. The Narrows in Zion National Park. Paria Canyon. The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. These are among the best backpacking trips in the Southwest—arguably in the country. But their renown demands that you plan those trips and apply for a backcountry permit months in advance. If you haven’t done that already, you’re likely out of luck for ticking off one of them this spring. But there are lesser-known, gorgeous hiking and backpacking trips you can still take in the Southwest this spring, even if you’re only getting around to planning a trip right now. Here are five of my favorites. Continue reading →

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