Category Archives: National Park Adventures

The Big Outside creator and former Backpacker magazine Northwest Editor Michael Lanza’s stories and images from many hiking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, and skiing adventures in U.S. national parks.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

November 12, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

By Michael Lanza

Are you looking for great trip ideas for your personal “bucket list?” Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. This freshly updated list spotlights 10 of the best adventures in the U.S. and around the world—from Yosemite, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Everglades, and other national parks to Patagonia, the Alps, and New Zealand—all of them trips that belong on every serious outdoor adventurer’s list. All of them are also trips that demand you start planning for them now to take them in 2019.

Because here’s the thing about bucket list trips: They usually require advance planning. At this time a year ago, for example, I began planning months in advance so that I could backpack off the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in May, rock climb with my family in Idaho in June and in Yosemite in July, backpack in Idaho’s Sawtooths in August and a 90-mile traverse of the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park in September, and dayhike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in October.

Continue reading →

Photo Gallery: Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

November 8, 2018  |  In Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
A hiker on the Grand Canyon's South Kaibab Trail during a 22-mile, rim-to-rim dayhike.

David Ports on the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail during a 22-mile, rim-to-rim dayhike.

By Michael Lanza

Minutes after we started hiking down the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail, we descended through short, tight switchbacks where the trail clings to the face of a cliff. The earth dropped away precipitously beyond the trail’s edge; we gazed down nearly a vertical mile into the bottom of The Big Ditch. Not much farther along, we stopped, awestruck, at a breathtaking overlook of perhaps the most famous canyon on the planet.

Those first vistas laid bare the audacity of our plans: to walk across this awesome chasm in one push, on a 21-mile, nearly 11,000-vertical-foot, rim-to-rim dayhike. Continue reading →

Hiking New Zealand’s Hardest Hut Trek, the Dusky Track

October 30, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
A hiker trekking the Dusky Trail in the Pleasant Range, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Jeff Wilhelm trekking the Dusky Trail in the Pleasant Range, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

By Michael Lanza

We step out of the Lake Roe Hut into a persistent drizzle, deep in what may be the most dishonestly named mountains in the world—the Pleasant Range in New Zealand’s chronically soggy Fiordland National Park. Belligerent gusts hurl cups of water into our faces. By the time my friend, Jeff, and I have taken our first 50 steps on the Dusky Track, we have both sunk knee-deep a dozen or more times into some of the heaviest, gloppiest, boot-suckingest mud that I have ever mired a leg in.

Garbed head to toe in rain shells, gaiters, gloves, and waterproof, leather boots, we hike across an almost treeless landscape, the “trail,” such as it is, intermittently fading into a sea of knee-high grass. Boggy tussock masquerades as earth, but the ground seems more liquid than solid: Excavate and wring out a cubic meter of it, and I’d bet my wide-brim, Gore-Tex hat you could fill a bathtub. Our mode of travel falls somewhere between walking on water and wading through land. Continue reading →

The Big Outside Trip Planner: Trekking New Zealand’s Dusky Track

October 29, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
A trekker climbing to Centre Pass on the Dusky Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Jeff Wilhelm climbing to Centre Pass on the Dusky Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.

 

Welcome to The Big Outside’s Trip Planner for trekking hut to hut on the Dusky Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.

This trip planner describes how to plan and execute a hut-to-hut trek on “New Zealand’s hardest hut trek,” the 52.2-mile (84k) Dusky Track in Fiordland National Park, and shorter trips on sections of it. This planner includes tips on the best season, local travel logistics, booking huts, difficulty, and safety. See my story at The Big Outside about my trip, “Hiking New Zealand’s Hardest Hut Trek, the Dusky Track,” which includes dozens of photos. Continue reading →

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

October 22, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments
A backpacker on the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

David Ports backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

Everyone remembers his or her first visit to the desert Southwest. The bizarre, vividly colored geology of southern Utah and Arizona ignites wildfires of the imagination that burn permanent impressions. I recall staring at rock formations sculpted in ways I’d never observed before and thinking, “How can this be?” And you’ll find very worthy dayhikes and roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands. But leaving civilization for days to probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—opens invisible doors to experiences that amplify the feelings inspired by these mystical landscapes.

After a quarter-century of chasing the best backpacking trips in southern Utah and the Grand Canyon area, I’ve put together this list of what I submit are the 10 best. Continue reading →

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