California national parks

A backpacker hiking to Vogelsang Pass in Yosemite National Park.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

By Michael Lanza

Are you looking for great trip ideas for your personal “bucket list?” Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. This freshly updated list spotlights 10 of the best backpacking trips and other adventures in the U.S. and around the world—from Grand Teton, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Canyonlands national parks to Paria Canyon, a Canadian Rockies hike that belongs on any list of the world’s great treks, plus a few that may not be on your radar—all of them worthy of your bucket list.

All of them are also trips that you should—or must—start planning now to take them in 2023.

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A backpacker hiking up Matterhorn Canyon in Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking Yosemite: What You Need to Know

The first major Western national park I backpacked in was Yosemite. I wanted to begin exploring America’s big, iconic wilderness parks—and like a lot of backpackers, I thought: Where else would I start but Yosemite? The name alone conjures mental images of walking for days through wild backcountry sprinkled with shimmering alpine lakes, granite walls, and high passes and summits overlooking a sea of jagged peaks (which, it turns out, is accurate).

Today, after many return trips throughout Yosemite, I’ve learned that one can spend a lifetime wandering the more than 700,000 acres of wilderness in America’s third national park and not get tired of it.

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A backpacker hiking the John Muir Trail above Helen Lake in Kings Canyon N.P., High Sierra.

High Sierra Ramble: 130 Miles On—and Off—the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

All day, clouds the color of a bruise pile up across the sky, conceding the sun only brief, teasing appearances before blocking it out again. Carrying packs bursting with nine days of food, we hike past lakes, each one higher and prettier than the last. More than seven miles from where we began our walk, we stroll into the basin of a sprawling lake whose image captured in historic Ansel Adams photographs has in many ways come to define the public’s mental picture of what is arguably America’s finest mountain range, the High Sierra: Speckled by scores of rocky islets below the distinctive profile of aptly named Banner Peak, Thousand Island Lake today bares whitecapped teeth pushed up by strong gusts of wind.

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A rock climber atop Eichorn Pinnacle in Yosemite National Park.

When Your Kid Gets Better Than You

By Michael Lanza

Some 200 feet above the shore of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park, on the face of a granite cliff with a name that sets high expectations—Stately Pleasure Dome—I crouch and contort my torso and limbs to squeeze into a slender passageway barely wider than my body. Inside this claustrophobic “chimney,” as this type of formation is known in rock-climbing parlance, I start grunting and panting loudly enough for the sounds of suffering to reach my 17-year-old son, Nate, who’s belaying me at the other end of our rope, below the chimney.

“How’s it look in there?” he calls to me from the relative comfort of his spacious ledge in the warm sunshine.

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Fishhook Creek, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

15 Simple Landscape Photography Tips For Better Outdoor Photos

By Michael Lanza

Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. The following tips on outdoor and landscape photography, which I’ve learned as a trained professional and refined over more than three decades of shooting the finest scenery in America and the world, will help you take home better photos whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer.

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