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 17, 2019 Hikers on the crater rim of Mount St. Helens, with Mount Adams in the distance.

The View From One of America’s Best Hikes: Mount St. Helens

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By Michael Lanza

Nearly four decades after it erupted, Washington’s Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, emerge soon from the shady, cool, temperate rainforest onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains, including several other snow-covered volcanoes. The views could steal the breath from God.

If you want to hike Mount St. Helens this year, the online process for applying for a permit begins tomorrow, March 18. Continue reading →

March 11, 2019 A backpacker on Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park.

5 Perfect National Park Backpacking Trips for Beginners

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By Michael Lanza

So you’re a novice backpacker, or you’re backpacking in a big, Western national park for the first time, or you have kids you want to take on a relatively easy backpacking trip—and you want to sample the best scenery, trails, and backcountry campsites that experienced backpackers get to enjoy in our flagship national parks. No worries. These five trips in Grand Teton, Yosemite (photo above), Zion, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain are ideal for beginners and families, with easy to moderately difficult days and simple logistics, while delivering the spectacular vistas that each of these parks is famous for. Continue reading →

March 10, 2019 A hiker on the summit of Mount Hoffmann in Yosemite National Park.

The 10 Best Dayhikes in Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

Let’s say it up front: The U.S. National Park System is without equal. The natural beauty, variety, pristine character, and scale of it have no parallel in the world. And everyone should set a lifetime goal of exploring as many of our 59 national parks as possible. But the truth is, a handful of flagship parks rise above the rest—including, unquestionably, Yosemite. Created in 1890, our third national park harbors some of the most breathtaking and inspiring scenery and wild lands in the entire parks system. And you can reach some of Yosemite’s finest views on dayhikes.

Here are 10 of the very best. Continue reading →

February 25, 2019 A hiker in The Subway, Zion National Park.

The 12 Best Hikes in Utah’s National Parks

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By Michael Lanza

From natural arches, hoodoos, and hanging gardens to balanced rocks and towering mesas, slot canyons and vast chasms, the desert Southwest holds in its dry, searing, lonely open spaces some of America’s most fascinating and inspiring geology. The writer “Cactus Ed” Abbey no doubt had this region in mind when he said there “are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.” Much of it sits protected within southern Utah’s five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef.

The good news? Many of the best sights can be reached on dayhikes of anywhere from a couple hours to a full day. Continue reading →

February 24, 2019 Hikers on the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Puez-Odle, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

Hike the World’s Most Beautiful Trail: The Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites

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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.

Continue reading →

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