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Giving Thanks For ‘The Best Idea We Ever Had’

Giving Thanks For ‘The Best Idea We Ever Had’

By Michael Lanza

From Lookout Point, along the North Rim Trail in Yellowstone National Park, you gaze down hundreds of feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, with its crumbling walls of golden, gray, and cream-colored rock and patches of evergreens framing the roaring river. Just upstream, 308-foot-tall Lower Yellowstone Falls explodes through a notch in the cliffs, sending a plume of water and mist shooting into the canyon. Every time I see it, as I did again earlier this fall, I feel the same sense of awe that I felt the first time I saw this view.

Big more than that, I think about the foresight behind the creation of America’s national parks—what the writer Wallace Stegner called “the best idea we ever had”—including the first one, Yellowstone. That’s one of the many things I’m thankful for on this Thanksgiving day.

As you start thinking about your next big adventure—and creating an experience to make yourself thankful next year—see all of my stories about national park adventures and my All Trips page at The Big Outside, as well as these stories that may offer some ideas and inspiration:

5 Great Adventures to Take in 2016

New Year Inspiration: My Top 10 Adventure Trips

My Top 10 Family Adventures

15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life

Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

And my ever-popular “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.


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  1. Avatar

    Happy Thanksgiving Michael! Hope you and your family enjoy the holiday weekend.

    Thank you for posting your stories and gear reviews.

    Pocatello, Idaho

    • michaellanza

      Thanks Mike, hope you had a good holiday, too.

  2. Avatar

    I’ve done the Narrows in 2008, one of the great hikes in the national park system.

    • michaellanza

      Agreed, Mitch.


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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. And click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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