Category Archives: Paddling

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

October 23, 2016 Big Spring Canyon-Squaw Canyon pass, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

5 National Park Backcountry Trips to Put on Your Radar Right Now

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By Michael Lanza

Your next national park backcountry adventure may seem far off your planning radar at this time of year—but this is precisely the time to start looking into backcountry permits if you have your sights trained on the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Yosemite, or Grand Teton. For all of them, the time to apply for a permit for a trip during the prime season next year is fast approaching. And in Great Smoky Mountains, the prime season is here; get out there now. Here’s what you need to know and do. Continue reading →

October 16, 2016 Our rafting and kayaking party in Lodore Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument.

3-Minute Read: Rafting Through Dinosaur National Monument

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By Michael Lanza

Our flotilla of five rafts and two kayaks drifted lazily toward what looked like a geological impossibility: a gigantic cleft a thousand feet deep where the river appeared to have chopped a path right through the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah. Cracked cliffs of burgundy-brown rock framed the gap. Called the Gates of Lodore, its’ a canyon as famous today for its scenery and whitewater as it was once infamous for the crises that befell its first party of explorers, led by a one-armed Civil War veteran, who set out in wooden boats a century and a half ago to map the West’s greatest river system.

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October 10, 2016 Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

Photo Gallery: My Top 10 Adventures… Ever

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By Michael Lanza

Whenever someone asks me, “What’s your favorite trip?”, I can never come up with just one answer. I’ve had the good fortune to have taken many amazing adventures over the years. But I have assembled a list of my 10 all-time favorites (so far). Check out this photo gallery of selected images from several of those trips, including hiking and backpacking from the Grand Canyon and Glacier national parks to the John Muir Trail and Patagonia (lead photo, above). Continue reading →

September 4, 2016 Tonto East Trail, Grand Canyon.

3-Minute Read: Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

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By Michael Lanza

Several years ago, on a four-day, family backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon when our kids were nine and barely seven, our son, the oldest, told me that he wanted to carry his own backpack. Up to then, both kids had carried daypacks when we backpacked with them (as our daughter still was). I got him a kids pack that fit him and kept it light—with only a liter of water and his sleeping bag and pad and stuffed animals in it. By about 30 minutes into the second day’s hike, he told me the pack was too heavy. So, following one of my own rules about taking kids outdoors, I removed his bag and crammed it into my already overstuffed pack.

Something my son, now 15, did recently, affirmed (yet again) the wisdom of keeping our kids’ packs light when they were little.

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August 23, 2016 Taylor Creek Trail, Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: Exploring Utah’s 5 National Parks

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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. Arches has more than 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as hundreds of soaring pinnacles, giant fins, and balanced rocks. Bryce Canyon holds the world’s greatest number of hoodoos, or bizarrely shaped pinnacles created by erosion.

Canyonlands is a vast wonderland of multi-colored cliffs, deep canyons, tall spires, and two major rivers. Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile-long, jumbled ridge of solid rock, conceals sandstone domes, natural bridges, beautiful canyons, and bighorn sheep. And Zion, Utah’s first and one of America’s flagship national parks, defies easy description from the 2,000-foot cliffs of Zion Canyon to a backcountry filled with geologic anomalies. Continue reading →

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