Tag Archives: Best Yosemite backpacking trips

August 27, 2018 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking 150 Miles Through Wildest Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

In early evening on a bluebird September day, deep in northern Yosemite National Park, my friend Todd Arndt and I—with legs a little weary—reached our fourth pass on a 23-mile day, the second day of a four-day, 87-mile hike. Only a quad-melting, 1,500-foot descent stood between us and soothing our feet in the cool sand and cold water at Benson Lake (possibly the most unbelievable mountain lake I’ve ever seen).

We hiked past quiet tarns where a few backpackers were camped. And it struck me that they were the first people Todd and I had seen all day. That’s not an observation one expects to make in Yosemite. But we were exploring the “other Yosemite”—not the overcrowded park, but its most remote backcountry, on one of the best multi-day hikes I’ve ever taken. Continue reading →

June 3, 2018 A backpacker in Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Backpacking Trips in Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

When I was a young, very green backpacker looking to expand my horizons on my first big backpacking trip in a major national park, my focus fell quickly on Yosemite. That fact certainly places me in the company of innumerable backpackers, of all ages and experience levels, who train their sights on this pearl of the High Sierra every year—for very good reasons. Simply put, few places possess Yosemite’s breadth and variety of scenery and inspire the same powerful sense of adventure. There’s only one Yosemite.

I’ve returned to backpack and climb in Yosemite numerous times since that first, unforgettable trip. And here’s what I’ve learned: Its backcountry harbors such an abundance of soaring granite peaks, jagged skylines, rushing creeks, waterfalls, and shimmering alpine lakes—plus, over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness and 750 miles of trails—that you can take many, many trips in America’s third national park without running out of five-star scenery. It unquestionably belongs on any list of the best national park backpacking trips. Continue reading →

April 22, 2018

The 10 Best National Park Backpacking Trips

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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 hold some of the most scenic, adventurous, and coveted backpacking trips in the country. Hike any of them and it will earn a spot on your personal top-10 list. Knock off all 10 trips on this list and you will experience some of the finest landscapes not only in the nation, but on the planet.

Ready to be blown away? Scroll through this list and find your next unforgettable trip. Continue reading →

January 29, 2018 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of hauling a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

September 5, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Best of Yosemite, Part 2: Backpacking Remote Northern Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

Under a sky lacking even one tiny cotton ball, and so blue you want to pour it into a cup and drink it, Todd and I walk across Tuolumne Meadows, carrying full but light backpacks and hearts full of anticipation. Across the creek-cut meadows, Cathedral Peak knifes into the stratosphere, and domes of polished granite bubble up above the treetops. The temperature hovers around 60° F, the air is as calm as a monk.

When you’re hiking on a September morning at 8,600 feet in the high country of Yosemite National Park, life floats intoxicatingly close to perfection. Continue reading →

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