Cirque of the Towers

A backpacker below Jackass Pass, overlooking the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza On a cool early morning last August while backpacking the Wind River High Route, I hiked in the shadow of tall mountains to Jackass Pass at 10,790 feet—a spot I’ve stood on at least a few times before, overlooking the incomparable Cirque of the Towers in the Winds—and affirmed a truth about that patch of rocks and …

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A backpacker hiking through Granite Park in the John Muir Wilderness, High Sierra, California.

Big Scenery, No Crowds: 7 Top Backpacking Trips For Solitude

By Michael Lanza

We all want our wilderness backpacking trips to have two sometimes conflicting qualities: mind-blowing scenery, but also few other people around. A high degree of solitude somehow makes the backcountry feel bigger and wilder and the views more breathtaking. However unrealistic the notion may be, we like to believe we have some stunning corner of nature to ourselves. But in the real world, if you head out into popular mountains in July or August or in canyon country in spring or fall, you’ll probably have company—maybe more than you prefer.

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Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range

A Walk in the Winds—Dayhiking 27 Miles Across the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

At 6:20 a.m., more than an hour into our hike, the sun surfaces through the thick layer of wildfire smoke in the valley below us. A blood-red sliver with clouds above it burning orange and yellow, it slowly blossoms into a partial disk, then a full, sharply defined orb glowing like a hot ember. It looks both beautiful and darkly sinister.

I’m trying to figure out whether this sunrise is a metaphor for our plans to hike 27 miles across Wyoming’s Wind River Range today. But I’m working on three hours of sleep and my brain’s functioning at about 20 percent of capacity. So I’m not sure whether this sunrise through wildfire smoke foretells us burning up the trail or, conversely, crashing and burning. As tired as I feel, I’m not sure that I want to know.

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A mother and young daughter backpacking the High Sierra Trail above Hamilton Lakes, Sequoia National Park.

15 Great Backpacking Trips You Can Still Take in 2021

By Michael Lanza So you didn’t plan months in advance to reserve a permit for backpacking this summer in Glacier, Yosemite, on the Teton Crest Trail, Wonderland Trail, or John Muir Trail or in another popular national park? Or you applied for a permit but got rejected? Now what? Where can you still go this year? You’re in luck. This story describes …

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A hiker on Half Dome's cable route in Yosemite National Park.

Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes

By Michael Lanza Imagine this: You’re heading out on a long, beautiful hike deep in the backcountry, but instead of a full backpack, you carry a light daypack. You’ve avoided hassles with getting a backcountry permit and there’s no camp to set up and pack up. I love backpacking—and I do it a lot. But sometimes, I prefer to knock …

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