Category Archives: National Park Adventures

Stories and images from my many hiking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, and family adventures in national parks in the U.S. and around the world.

September 30, 2016 Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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

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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 and easy it is to make it right. Continue reading →

September 19, 2016 Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Gallery: Yellowstone in Autumn

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By Michael Lanza

My goal that first day in our first national park: hike the North Rim Trail in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. I walked along the brink of the canyon rim, looking down a thousand feet at the river’s whitewater, and stood at the lip of 308-foot-tall Lower Yellowstone Falls. Before that autumn visit was over, I dayhiked to a grand, 360-degree view of Yellowstone from the top of 10,243-foot Mount Washburn and saw a herd of elk and four black bears (the latter from the safety of my car). I hiked at dawn around Mammoth Hot Springs, serenaded by the bugling of a bull elk, and solo into the magnificent silence of the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River. And I capped it off with an entirely unplanned event: getting stuck in a classic Yellowstone “bison jam.” Continue reading →

September 15, 2016 Navajo/Queens Garden Loop.

Photo Gallery: My Favorite Hike in Bryce Canyon

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By Michael Lanza

Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop/Queens Garden Loop is a popular trail for good reason, with constant views of hoodoos—the multi-colored, limestone, sandstone, and mudstone spires that look like giant, melting candles, including the famous formation called Thor’s Hammer. But once turning onto the Peek-a-Boo Loop, you lose the crowds—and discover the scenic heart of Bryce Canyon while hiking below the Wall of Windows and row after row of towers in fluorescent shades of red and orange.

Continue reading →

September 12, 2016 Tonto Trail, Grand Canyon National Park.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

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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 Zion and Yosemite to the White Mountains, Grand Canyon, Mount Hood, and more, here are 10 of my favorite backpacking trips that are best served up in fall.
Continue reading →

September 11, 2016 Death Canyon Shelf, Grand Teton National Park.

Video: Backpacking in Grand Teton National Park

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By Michael Lanza

After almost 20 visits to Grand Teton National Park to backpack, dayhike, rock climb, backcountry ski, and paddle a canoe, the sight of that jagged skyline still gives me chills. One of America’s premier multi-day hikes, the Teton Crest Trail is, step for step, one of the greatest mountain walks in America, with incomparable views, scenic campsites, wildflowers, mountain lakes and creeks, and a chance of seeing moose, elk, marmots, pikas, mule deer, and black bears.

And the best time of year to head out backpacking in the Tetons is right now. Continue reading →

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