Capitol Reef National Park

A backpacker above Crack-in-the-Wall, Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Playing the Memory Game in Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon

By Michael Lanza

Below a deep gash in a 50-foot-tall cliff of golden sandstone, shaded from the low, late-afternoon sun of early spring, I scramble up a steep slab using in-cut holds carved into the soft rock. Ten or 12 feet off the ground, I pull myself over the lip of a ledge to peer into a narrow cut in the earth, a hidden geologic oddity that lures in a certain type of hiker for one reason: because it’s barely wide enough for humans to squeeze through. And I have to smile.

I’m grinning first of all because I’ve found just what we had hoped to see. Water sometimes pools in a couple of potholes near the mouth of this slot canyon, and the air temperature today feels a little too cool to soak ourselves in cold water. Today, though, the sandy-bottomed, giant stone teacups are dry. But secondly, touching me on a more personal level, this canyon’s entrance looks much as I remember it from the first time I hiked through here, 16 years ago this month.

In less than two hours, my impression of this place will be almost completely remade.

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A backpacker on the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park.

12 Expert Tips for Finding Solitude When Backpacking

By Michael Lanza Solitude has always reigned as one of the holy grails of backpacking: We all dream of finding that lonely campsite deep in the wilderness with an amazing vista, or hiking for miles or days encountering few or even no other people on the trail. But reality often conflicts with expectations for many backpackers when they discover that …

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A hiker below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The 12 Best Hikes in Utah’s National Parks

By Michael Lanza From natural arches, hoodoos, and hanging gardens to balanced rocks and towering mesas, slot canyons and vast chasms, the desert Southwest holds in its dry, searing, lonely open spaces some of America’s most fascinating and inspiring geology. The writer “Cactus Ed” Abbey no doubt had this region in mind when he said there “are some places so …

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A young girl hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

The 25 Best National Park Dayhikes

By Michael Lanza America’s most stunning landscapes are protected within our 59 national parks, and some of the very finest scenery within our national heritage can be reached on dayhikes. Some of these hikes you may not have done yet or heard of. Others are famous, but there’s a reason for that: They are mind-blowingly gorgeous, so they stand out …

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