Category Archives: Hiking

Stories and images from my many dayhikes, from family- and beginner-friendly trails to hard-core ultra-hiking.

March 19, 2018 Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

The 10 Best National Park Adventures With Kids

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By Michael Lanza

The crowning achievement of our National Park System is that we have preserved such uniquely beautiful and significant pieces of nature in perpetuity. But the payoff for America’s foresight in creating and expanding the system is a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable experiences awaiting us in these places—many of them entirely accessible, safe, and really fun for families with kids in a range of ages, from very young to teenagers. From Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion (photo above) to Olympic, Grand Teton, and more, here are 10 of the very best national park outdoor adventures with kids—and the time to start planning them is now. Continue reading →

March 15, 2018 Hiking the Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

7 Great Southwest Hiking Trips You Can Take Without Planning Ahead

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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 you have to 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 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. From Utah’s five national parks to lesser-known spots in between, like the Escalante and San Rafael Swell, here are seven of the best. Continue reading →

March 11, 2018 Summit of Thompson Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

The Roof of Idaho’s Sawtooths: Hiking Thompson Peak

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By Michael Lanza

Morning fog hung like a damp, cold blanket over the Sawtooth Valley as my wife, Penny, and I started hiking in early morning from the Redfish Trailhead, minutes from the shores of Redfish Lake. Before long, we caught our first view of our destination—and it looked quite far off: the pinpoint summit of 10,751-foot Thompson Peak, the highest in Idaho’s best-known mountain range, the Sawtooths. From where we started our dayhike, 6.5 circuitous miles and 4,200 vertical feet separated us from that lofty piece of granite, including on- and off-trail hiking through aspens and ponderosa pine forest, up a hanging valley with a steep headwall, over talus and scree, and a bit of third-class scrambling.

But Penny had never stood atop Thompson, and we had a bluebird, late-July day. So we fully intended to get there. Continue reading →

March 6, 2018 A climber on the Ptarmigan Traverse, North Cascades Range, Washington.

Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb

In Backpacking, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments

By Michael Lanza

When three friends and I decided to attempt to thru-hike the John Muir Trail—221 miles through California’s High Sierra, with numerous mountain passes ranging from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet in elevation—in just one week (backpackers traditionally take three weeks)—the plan seemed like a wild dream. Hike 31 miles a day for seven straight days through some of the biggest mountains in the Lower 48? It was an agenda for lunatics. So we started training. Seriously training. Continue reading →

March 5, 2018 A hiker in The Subway, Zion National Park.

The 10 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 →

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Grand Canyon Hiker