By Michael Lanza

On a three-family, overnight backpacking trip in The Needles District of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park last spring, we hiked up Big Spring Canyon and partway down Squaw Canyon to this campsite below bands of burnt-red cliffs. As a calm, chilled, clear night descended, I set up my tripod and framed two of our tents lit by headlamps below a sky speckled with the light of natural lamps that had traveled unknown light years to reach us.

I had hiked this loop with friends almost 20 years earlier, but only vaguely remembered how the route follows a crazily circuitous course over steep slickrock to reach the pass dividing Big Spring Canyon from Squaw Canyon, and the view from that pass of endless rows of cliffs and slender spires. And, of course, memory can never preserve a complete picture of that southern Utah night sky, one of the darkest places in the country for its remoteness from urban light pollution.

I’ll write about that adventure and share more photos from it this spring at The Big Outside. Meanwhile, you can see another image from that family backpacking trip in the Needles District among my “10 Favorite Photos From 2014 Adventures,” as well as two more photos from that same trip, of dayhiking to Chesler Park in the Needles District, and hiking in Arches National Park. And click any of these links to see all of my stories about hiking, backpacking, Family Adventures, and National Park Adventures at this blog.