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A backpacker hiking to Burro Pass above Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

The 8 Best Backpacking Trips in Yosemite

By Michael Lanza

After more than three decades of exploring all over Yosemite on numerous backpacking trips, I’ve learned two big lessons about it: First of all, few places inspire the same powerful combination of both awe and adventure. And Yosemite’s backcountry harbors such an abundance of soaring granite peaks, waterfalls, lovely rivers and creeks, and shimmering alpine lakes—plus, over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness and 750 miles of trails—that you can explore America’s third national park literally for decades and not run out of five-star scenery.

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A hiker on Half Dome, high above Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park.

Where to Backpack First Time in Yosemite

By Michael Lanza

Ready for your first backpacking trip in one of America’s greatest national parks for backpackers? Having backpacked several times all over Yosemite, my advice for a first-time backpacker in Yosemite who wants to hit highlights like Yosemite Valley, the Mist Trail, and Half Dome is nearly identical to the itinerary I followed on my first trip more than three decades ago—but modified because I know better now.

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Backpackers at Evolution Lake in the Evolution Basin, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon N.P.

10 Great John Muir Trail Section Hikes

By Michael Lanza

Like moths to a flame—or perhaps pikas to talus—at some point, many serious backpackers will decide they must thru-hike the John Muir Trail. But some will wonder whether they’re ready or have the time for a 221-mile hike that may take up to three weeks—and many will fail to get one of the most sought-after wilderness permits in the country. What then?

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A backpacker hiking up Matterhorn Canyon in Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking Yosemite: What You Need to Know

The first major Western national park I backpacked in was Yosemite. I wanted to begin exploring America’s big, iconic wilderness parks—and like a lot of backpackers, I thought: Where else would I start but Yosemite? The name alone conjures mental images of walking for days through wild backcountry sprinkled with shimmering alpine lakes, granite walls, and high passes and summits overlooking a sea of jagged peaks (which, it turns out, is accurate).

Today, after many return trips throughout Yosemite, I’ve learned that one can spend a lifetime wandering the more than 700,000 acres of wilderness in America’s third national park and not get tired of it.

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Larch trees glowing with fall color, reflected in Rainbow Lake in the North Cascades National Park Complex.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza

The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of bugs, and fall foliage color. Autumn also stands out as an ideal season for many Southwest hikes, with moderate temperatures and even some stunning color.

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