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.

January 2, 2019 Ski touring the Elkhorn Loop, Boise National Forest, Idaho.

New Year Resolution: Getting Unplugged

In Family Adventures, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Right before New Year’s Day, for the tenth year of the past 12, my family and another did something we have eagerly anticipated annually for almost as long as my children’s memory reaches backward. It involved skis, backpacks, and spending four days at a yurt tucked away in snow-covered mountains a few miles from the nearest, very lonely, winding, two-lane road. But the details matter only inasmuch as they steer us toward our ultimate goal: We really go there to get completely unplugged.

We do that mostly for ourselves, of course. But I think we need this notion of disconnecting to catch on more widely, to save us all from ourselves. Continue reading →

5 Epic Grand Canyon Backpacking Trips You Must Do

December 27, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
A backpacker on the Grand Canyon's Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop.

Todd Arndt backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop.

By Michael Lanza

This is, in a way, a story about addiction. Or a love affair. Or both. Because those are the best metaphors I can come up with for how the Grand Canyon consistently lures me back when I’m thinking about spring and fall hiking and backpacking trips. It is that rare kind of natural environment that exists on a scale of its own, like Alaska or the Himalaya. There’s something soul-stirring and hypnotic about its infinite vistas, the deceptive scale of the canyon walls and stone towers, and the way the foreground and background continually expand and shrink as you ascend and descend elevation gradients of a vertical mile or more—all of which validates enduring the wilting heat and trails that sometimes seem better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates.

I’m going to show you, in words and photos, why one or more of these Big Ditch backpacking trips deserves top priority as you’re planning for spring or fall trips. Continue reading →

December 17, 2018 Teenage girl descending off the Fenetre d’Arpette on the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps.

The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

As a parent of teenagers who’s taken his kids on outdoor adventures since before they can remember, I’ll share with you the biggest and in some ways most surprising lesson I’ve learned from these trips: Our outdoor adventures have been the best times we’ve had together as a family—but not only because of the places and experiences themselves. The main reason is that these trips have given us innumerable days with only each other and nature for entertainment—no electronic devices or other distractions that construct virtual walls within families in everyday life. These times have brought us closer together. Continue reading →

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 →

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 →

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