National Park Adventures

A backpacker hiking down the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

7 Epic Grand Canyon Backpacking Trips You Must Do

By Michael Lanza

This is, in a way, a story about addiction. Or a love affair. Or both. Those metaphors best describe how the Grand Canyon constantly 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 immensity 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 rattlesnakes and scorpions than bipedal primates.

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A backpacker on the Tonto Trail on the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop.

How to Get a Permit to Backpack in the Grand Canyon

By Michael Lanza

First-time backpackers in the Grand Canyon quickly absorb two lessons about this one-of-a-kind place. Foremost, the canyon’s infinite vistas and deceptive scale, the beauty of desert oases and wildflower blooms, the peacefulness and quietude of some of the best wilderness campsites you will ever enjoy—all of these qualities will hook you forever.

And you learn how difficult it can be to get a permit for backpacking there.

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Michael Lanza of The Big Outside backpacking in the Wind River Range.

Get Custom Backpacking Trip Planning from an Expert

By Michael Lanza

You’re trying to plan a backpacking trip to a classic national park like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, or some other park or wilderness area—but you’re not quite sure how to do it. Or the permit process and planning feel overwhelming. Or you want to ensure it’s the best trip possible. Or you just don’t have time to do all that planning and would rather have an expert do it for you.

Well, you have just landed on your solution.

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A backpacker hiking up Matterhorn Canyon in Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking Yosemite: What You Need to Know

The first major Western national park I backpacked in was Yosemite. I wanted to begin exploring America’s big, iconic wilderness parks—and like a lot of backpackers, I thought: Where else would I start but Yosemite? The name alone conjures mental images of walking for days through wild backcountry sprinkled with shimmering alpine lakes, granite walls, and high passes and summits overlooking a sea of jagged peaks (which, it turns out, is accurate).

Today, after many return trips throughout Yosemite, I’ve learned that one can spend a lifetime wandering the more than 700,000 acres of wilderness in America’s third national park and not get tired of it.

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A young woman hiker near the summit of Mount Bláhnúkur, above Landmannalaugar, Iceland.

10 Tips For Getting Outside More

By Michael Lanza

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Who does? For many of us, work, home, and other responsibilities erect roadblocks to getting out as much as we’d like—and the ongoing pandemic has only made travel much more difficult and anxiety-provoking while making time outdoors feel ever more urgent and necessary. This story shares 10 simple strategies to help you sate your appetite for getting outdoors, both on short outings near home and longer trips away from home.

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