Canyonlands National Park

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.

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Northern Bailey Range, Mount Olympus in background, Olympic National Park.

Photo Gallery: Celebrating National Parks Week

By Michael Lanza

This is National Parks Week, a good time to contemplate the writer and historian Wallace Stegner’s famous quote: “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Are you planning to visit a national park this week or this year? Here’s a gallery of photos from several parks I’ve visited (including Olympic, photo above) to offer a little inspiration.

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Middle Fork Salmon River, Idaho.

Ask Me: Can You Recommend Rafting Outfitters and Trips?

Hi Michael,

I just found your blog today after starting my research for a summer guided rafting tour for families. In my next life I’d like to come back as one of your offspring! My husband would like to take our eager son on a guided, overnight rafting trip this summer to celebrate his 10th birthday: father-son trip, but someone else does the heavy lifting so dad and son can focus on enjoyment of the river, campfires and overall one-on-one time. We live in the Bay Area but our son is keen to travel for this trip—Idaho, Utah, Oregon, or Colorado, to name a few suggestions. Can you point us toward some well-regarded guiding companies and provide any insight to consider when we comparison shop?

Kind regards,
Catherine
Lafayette, CA

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A young girl at Kaweah Gap in Sequoia National Park.

Photo Gallery: Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

By Michael Lanza

As my 14-year-old son, Nate, and I paddled our kayaks toward one of the class III rapids on the Payette River in southwest Idaho, I suggested he run it ahead of me: My son’s knowledge of the Payette’s rapids, and skill at paddling them, both outstrip mine. He grinned at me and responded, “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t let you go in first.”

Great sense of humor, that kid of mine.

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Hikers on the Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

No Straight Lines: Backpacking and Hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

By Michael Lanza

We follow a zigzagging line of stone cairns over waves of slickrock in the backcountry of the Needles District of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Cliffs and 300-foot-tall sandstone candlesticks tower around us, in more shades of red than Crayola has yet replicated, glowing in the warm afternoon sunshine of late March. Five adults and four kids from three families, we traverse slabs, scramble in single file up the smooth, dry bottom of a narrow water runnel, and pump out calf muscles walking straight up steep ramps. In the desert Southwest, trails haven’t learned the axiom of Euclidian geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We’re navigating a maze without walls.

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