Angels Landing

Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking in Zion National Park

By Michael Lanza

Even in the Southwest, a region where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, Zion National Park stands out. Other places have natural arches, spires, and ancient cliff dwellings, but no place really matches Zion’s grandeur: cliffs up to 2,000 feet tall stretching for miles, the rock’s purity of white and deep burgundy, and patterns of striations rippling across a span of stone that dwarfs Man’s greatest buildings and monuments. Perhaps that’s why it was Utah’s first national park, designated in the same year, 1919, as Grand Canyon and Acadia.

As the photos below demonstrate, Zion harbors some of America’s best dayhiking and backpacking.

Read on

A hiker on Half Dome's cable route in Yosemite National Park.

Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes

By Michael Lanza Imagine this: You’re heading out on a long, beautiful hike deep in the backcountry, but instead of a full backpack, you carry a light daypack. You’ve avoided hassles with getting a backcountry permit and there’s no camp to set up and pack up. I love backpacking—and I do it a lot. But sometimes, I prefer to knock …

Read on

A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

By Michael Lanza We all love the majesty of mountains. But the vividly colored, sometimes bizarre, occasionally incomprehensible geology of the Southwest canyon country enchant and inspire us in ways that words can only begin to describe. And while you will find very worthy dayhikes and even roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands, you …

Read on

A hiker on Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Hiking Angels Landing: What You Need to Know

By Michael Lanza

Thrilling, scenic, and enormously popular, an impressive feat of trail building, an intimidating and exposed scramble—these are some of the descriptions commonly given to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, all of them accurate. It also has a reputation as one of the scariest and most dangerous hikes in the National Park System—a claim that would seem somewhat overblown just by virtue of the fact that innumerable tens of thousands of people, including many novice hikers, safely venture up and down it every year.

Constructed nearly a century ago and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, now one of the classic dayhikes in America, Angels Landing is absolutely safe for anyone exercising reasonable caution and should be in the sights of every avid hiker. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Read on

A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

The 5 Southwest Backpacking Trips You Should Do First

By Michael Lanza You want to explore the best backpacking in America’s desert Southwest, but you’re not sure where to begin, or how some of these trips you’ve read about compare for scenery and difficulty. You’ve heard about the need to carry huge loads of water, and environmental challenges like dangerous heat, rugged terrain, flash floods and even (gulp) quicksand. …

Read on