backpacking Wonderland Trail

A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I’ve gotten pickier about my backpacking and other backcountry adventures. The best-known trails, peaks, and wilderness waters are usually beautiful; but sometimes, for various reasons, they don’t always do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It certainly begins with exceptional natural beauty, but often also requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical and other challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

The 10 places shown in the photos below are exactly that: still wild.

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A backpacker descending from Panhandle Gap on the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Trail

By Michael Lanza There are many good reasons the 93-mile Wonderland Trail encircling Washington’s Mount Rainier ranks among the most popular backpacking trips in the country. And yet, backpackers who’ve never attempted this loop around the third-highest peak in the Lower 48 may have questions about what it’s like. If you have not hiked all or part of the Wonderland …

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Backpackers on the High Sierra Trail above the Middle Fork Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park.

The 10 Best National Park Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza Olympic, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, Zion, Grand Teton, Mount Rainier, Canyonlands, Sequoia, Great Smoky Mountains. To backpackers, these names read like a list of America’s greatest cathedrals in nature—and no surprise, because these parks harbor some of the most scenic wilderness trails in the country. Hike any of them and it will earn a spot on your …

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza What makes for a great backpacking trip? Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. While there’s definitely something inspirational about a big walk in the wild, half of the hikes on this freshly updated top-10 list are under 50 miles. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: …

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