Category Archives: Paddling

Stories, photos, and videos from my kayaking, canoeing, and rafting adventures in the U.S. and around the world.

August 20, 2018 Sunset at Idaho's City of Rocks National Reserve.

Why I Never Miss a Wilderness Sunset or Sunrise

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The June evening was more than a few hours old when, without warning, the sky suddenly caught fire. The kids, teenagers and ’tweeners, and some of the adults in our group scrambled up onto a nearby rock formation at least 50 feet tall to observe the sunset from high off the ground. Like a wildfire swept forward by wind, hues of yellow, orange, and red leapt across bands of clouds suspended above the western horizon, their ragged bottoms edges, appropriately, resembling dancing flames.

For a span of just minutes that felt timeless, the light painted and repainted the clouds in ever-shifting, warm colors starkly contrasted against the cool, deepening blue of the sky—as if a vast lake had ignited. We stood hypnotized and enchanted on that evening during a long weekend of camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, until the last, dying flames of the celestial conflagration faded and were extinguished. For that brief time, the sunset had us all, adults and kids, completely in its thrall. Continue reading →

August 6, 2018 Kayaking Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Do you have a “bucket list?” I’m not sure how many trips are on my list, which I’ve maintained for years, but I can tell you its word count: 18,712 words (including notes about each trip). And it keeps getting longer, even though I tick off new trips every year. Last year, to give a few examples, I trekked the majestic Tour du Mont Blanc with my family (see below), adventured in Costa Rica, and backpacked Utah’s Dark Canyon and Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

Looking for great ideas for your bucket list? (Who isn’t?) Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. I’ve assembled here 10 of the best adventures I’ve taken over nearly three decades as an outdoor writer and photographer—all of them trips that belong on every serious outdoor adventurer’s list—with information based on my personal experience, and links to stories at The Big Outside with many more images from and info about each one. Continue reading →

July 30, 2018 A boy hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking Utah’s National Parks

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

All of America’s 59 national parks possess special qualities and scenery, without a doubt. But southern Utah’s concentration of unique and awe-inspiring landscapes sets its five parks apart from the rest—and they’re each quite different from one another. You should see them all, and a prime season for hiking the Southwest is just around the corner. In this blog post, I’ll share many photos from Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion, and tips on the best ways to explore these parks. Continue reading →

July 26, 2018 Campsite by Royal Arch, Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon.

The First 5 Things I Do in Camp When Backpacking

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I doubt that I had any typical routine when arriving at a campsite on my earliest backpacking trips; like many backpackers, I probably just dropped my pack, shucked off my boots, and kicked back until motivated to move by the urge to eat, drink, get warm, or go to the bathroom. Over the years, though, I’ve developed a routine that I follow almost religiously when I arrive in camp at the end of a day of backpacking. These five simple, quick, almost effortless steps make a world of difference in how good I feel that evening and the next morning, and how well I sleep. Follow them and I think you’ll make your campsite hours—and backpacking trips as a whole—more comfortable. Continue reading →

June 17, 2018 My kids hiking the Gunsight Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

A Survival Guide For the Outdoors Lover Who’s a New Parent

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

So, you’ve been an avid [circle all appropriate terms: hiker/backpacker/climber/trail runner/skier/kayaker] for years, and now you’re spending big chunks of your days changing diapers and your nights wondering when you’ll sleep again. You’ve never gone this long without getting out into the mountains, and you see no remedy for that shortfall in the foreseeable future. Your new baby is more wonderful than you’d ever imagined—and yet, you’re feeling a little despair over what’s missing from your life lately.

I know where your head is right now. And I have good news for you: I’ve seen the bright light at the end of the tunnel, and you can get there faster than you might think. Here’s how. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker