Canadian Rockies backpacking

Trekkers on the Alta Via 2 in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.

My 30 Most Scenic Days of Hiking Ever

By Michael Lanza

We can all remember specific places that we consider the best days of hiking we’ve ever had. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate: I have hiked many trails in America and around the world that would probably make anyone’s list of most-scenic hikes. From numerous trips in iconic national parks like Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Glacier to the John Muir Trail and Teton Crest Trail and some of the world’s great treks, including the Alta Via 2 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (lead photo, above), the Tour du Mont Blanc, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail, and the icy and jagged mountains of Norway and Patagonia, here’s a list of the 30 hands-down prettiest days I’ve ever spent walking dirt and rock footpaths.

I think you’ll find some places in here to add to your must-do list.

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A backpacker on the Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Photo Gallery: The Rockwall Trail in the Canadian Rockies

By Michael Lanza

A few hours into our hike’s first day, we came around a bend in the trail to a sight that stopped us cold: a pair of skyscraping stone monoliths rising thousands of feet above the treetops. Silhouetted by the sun arcing toward the west, the peaks resembled a pair of El Capitans standing shoulder to shoulder. A little while later, one of the tallest waterfalls in the Rocky Mountains came into view: Helmet Falls, plunging 1,154 feet (352m) over a cliff.

After that, the scenery really got good.

Read onPhoto Gallery: The Rockwall Trail in the Canadian Rockies

Rockwall Pass on the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park, Canadian Rockies.

One Photo, One Story: Backpacking the Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park

By Michael Lanza

One the second afternoon of my family’s four-day backpacking trip on the 34-mile (54k) Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park, we reached the first of three passes we would cross over the course of the trip—and the first of two that day. At 7,264-foot (2,214m) Rockwall Pass, we got our first long view of the Rockwall, a chain of soaring cliffs, jagged peaks, and hanging glaciers that extends for miles, and which we would walk beneath for most of our trek. I snapped this photo of my 14-year-old son, Nate, as we started descending south off of Rockwall Pass.

Read onOne Photo, One Story: Backpacking the Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park