Canyonlands National Park

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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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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Trekking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

10 Favorite Photos From 2014 Adventures

By Michael Lanza

Was 2014 a good year for you? After poring through thousands of photos I shot on more than a dozen trips this year, including return visits to iconic national parks like Yosemite and Zion, and a couple of adventures that have been on my to-do list for years—backpacking the Timberline Trail around Mount Hood and trekking in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains—I picked my 10 favorite images of the year. I’ll write about these trips in upcoming stories at The Big Outside. For now, let these pictures give you a little inspiration to make 2015 a great year outdoors.

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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.

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