Trips

A hiker on the Taylor Creek Trail, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: Hiking the Kolob Canyons of Zion National Park

By Michael Lanza

Hiking in the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park, you get down to business with five-star scenery with your first step from your car. At the Lee Pass Trailhead, Taylor Creek Trailhead, or the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint, you’re immediately greeted with views of crimson cliffs soaring hundreds of feet tall. Then it just keeps getting better.

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A backpacker above Overland Lake on the Ruby Crest Trail, Ruby Mountains, Nevada.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Ruby Crest Trail

By Michael Lanza

Under a hot sun, but with a nice breeze keeping us cool, on our second day backpacking the Ruby Crest Trail in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, we made the slow, 1,700-foot climb from the North Fork of Smith Creek to a pass at over 10,000 feet. It was a grind and my family spread out along the trail. But reaching the pass, we all stopped and smiled, mesmerized by a breathtaking view of the small basin that cradles Overland Lake and the mountains extending for miles beyond it (photo above).

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A campsite in Painter Basin, below 13,538-foot Kings Peak (right) in Utah's High Uintas Wilderness.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the High Uintas Wilderness

By Michael Lanza

Early on the third morning of a six-day hike through Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness, I walked to the shore of the Fourth Chain Lake at 10,900 feet, where we had camped. Its waters sat absolutely still, offering up a perfect, inverted reflection of the mountains. By that afternoon, we reached 11,700-foot Trail Rider Pass, our second high pass of the day, with a view that took the edge off our weariness. Behind us, the valley of Lake Atwood, which we had hiked up, stretched for miles; ahead lay our destination, Painter Basin (photo above), an expansive, almost barren plain at 11,000 feet below the highest peak in Utah, Kings Peak.

In those first three days of hiking, we encountered a grand total of two other people.

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A young girl hiker at Imogene Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

The Best Hikes and Backpacking Trips in Idaho’s Sawtooths

By Michael Lanza

Our group of three adults and six teenagers crossed the 9,200-foot pass on the Alice-Toxaway Divide, separating Alice and Twin lakes from Toxaway Lake, on our third straight bluebird August afternoon backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. Before us, an arc of spires and jagged peaks wrapped around a pair of alpine lakes appropriately named Twin Lakes. And although I had hiked over this pass many times before, I stopped in my tracks and just stared at our vista. Perhaps most impressively, even the jaded teens with us found themselves awestruck, too.

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A backpacker below Jackass Pass, overlooking the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

On a cool early morning in August while backpacking the Wind River High Route, I hiked in the shadow of tall mountains to Jackass Pass at 10,790 feet—a spot I’ve stood on at least a few times before, overlooking the incomparable Cirque of the Towers in the Winds—and affirmed a truth about that patch of rocks and dirt: It still possessed the capacity to take my breath away and make my heart speed up a little bit (although the climb to the pass may have had something to do with that).

It was a comfort to see that the effect the Wind River Range has on me had not changed.

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