Bryce Canyon National Park

Tundra in autumn, Denali National Park, Alaska.

Photographing All 59 National Parks: 5 Top Tips From QT Luong

By Michael Lanza

The number of people who can say they’ve visited all 59 of America’s national parks comprise a fairly small club. Only one person has made large-format photographs in all of them. In the 400 vividly sharp images in his beautiful and inspiring, coffee-table book Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, photographer QT Luong distills the results of more than 20 years and 300 trips hiking, paddling, diving, skiing, snowshoeing, and climbing in every park, every type of environment, every season, and at all times of day and night.

Now, in an interview with The Big Outside, Luong talks about this project and offers his top five tips for shooting outdoors, for photographers from amateurs to pros.

Read on

Ouzel Lake in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Looking For A Great National Park Trip? Look Here

By Michael Lanza

When I think about U.S. national parks, I remember hiking with my family to Yosemite Valley’s waterfalls. Seeing Yellowstone’s geysers both in summer (a great park trip with kids young or older) and cross-country skiing in winter. Sea kayaking in Alaska’s majestic Glacier Bay. Exploring the canyons and gazing in awe at the sculptured rock of southern Utah’s Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands. And numerous, incomparable backpacking trips in Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Sequoia, North Cascades, Rocky Mountain (lead photo at top of story), Great Sand Dunes, and, of course, Glacier.

Read on

Happy Holidays From The Big Outside

Wishing you a happy holiday season with a view along the Navajo Loop-Queens Garden Loop, my favorite hike in Bryce Canyon National Park. Planning some adventures for next year? Find ideas at my All Trips page. —Michael Lanza  

Sunset above Buck Creek Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Photo Essay: A Year of Outdoor Adventures

By Michael Lanza

A few weeks ago, as I hiked with my daughter up the steep Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon, knocking off the last few miles of a three-day backpacking trip that had been wonderful on many levels, I was feeling awfully satisfied. For starters, through most of this fall, I’d had a bad itch to get out somewhere—and the Big Ditch, it turns out, is a pretty good place to scratch that itch. Plus, we’d just enjoyed three absolutely gorgeous, summer-like days of father-daughter time, and the company of two other families who joined us.

But seen from a longer view, returning to the Grand Canyon again felt like the perfect way to cap off another good year outdoors. In 2013, I got to seven national parks; five federal wilderness areas; an Idaho mountain range (the White Cloud Mountains) that might… no, should… become either federal wilderness or a national monument in the near future; and had the unforgettable pleasure of standing with my 12- and 10-year-old kids, my 15-year-old nephew, and my 76-year-old mom on the crater rim of Mount St. Helens.

Read on

Grand Canyon from the South Rim.

Photo Gallery: 10 Beautiful National Parks You Can’t Visit Now (And What To Do Once They Reopen)

By Michael Lanza

With the federal government closed, we can’t hike, paddle, backpack, or climb in our national parks right now. No one knows when the government shutdown will end, but it can’t go on forever, right? (Right?! Someone please make this end soon!)

I’ve assembled below inspiring photos from 10 national parks, with links to stories (with more photos) about great outdoor-adventure trips in each one. You can’t take these trips now, but you can start scheming plans for when the parks are back up and running. Many of these experiences require planning weeks or months in advance, anyway.

So get on it. Your next adventure awaits.

Read on