backpacking The Narrows Zion

A hiker on the Observation Point Trail in Zion National Park.

Insider Tips: The 10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

By Michael Lanza

At a bit over 147,000 acres, Zion comes nowhere near America’s largest national parks in sheer immensity. Zion could fit inside Yosemite National Park five times, inside the Everglades 10 times, inside Yellowstone 15 times, and inside our largest park, Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias, 89 times. But if you’re a hiker, Zion harbors, mile for mile, some of the most breathtaking scenery to be found on any trails in the National Park System.

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Larch trees glowing with fall color, reflected in Rainbow Lake in the North Cascades National Park Complex.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of …

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A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

Luck of the Draw, Part 2: Backpacking Zion’s Narrows

By Michael Lanza

We step into the ankle-deep North Fork of the Virgin River, in the backcountry of Zion National Park, and water at refrigerator temperature immediately fills our boots. Until sometime tomorrow afternoon, we’ll walk in this river almost constantly, crossing it dozens of times—with the 50° F water, at its deepest, coming up nearly to our waists. As we splash downstream, the canyon walls of golden, crimson, and cream-colored sandstone steadily creep inward and stretch higher, soon eclipsing the sun. We’ll see very little direct sunlight as the sheer walls of Zion’s Narrows eventually tower a thousand feet overhead and, at times, close in to the width of a hobbit’s living room.

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A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

What Zion’s Narrows Closure to Backpackers Means to Us All

By Michael Lanza

We rightly think of America’s national parks as inviolable public treasures, protected in perpetuity to remain unchanged forever, always there for us to admire and enjoy. Zion National Park’s closure yesterday of one of the very best backpacking trips in the Southwest—the 16-mile descent of The Narrows from top to bottom—due to a landowner suddenly revoking public access to the trailhead where the trek begins, reminds us that even the best-guarded treasures can be looted.

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