Tag Archives: Colorado River

February 11, 2019 A backpacker on the Pitamakan Pass-Dawson Pass traverse in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   13 Comments

By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

In the final analysis, though, the only criterion that matters is simple: that it’s a great trip. And that character shows itself over and over in my picks for the 10 best backpacking trips in the country, selected from the many I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of carrying a backpack, both as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

5 Epic Grand Canyon Backpacking Trips You Must Do

December 27, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
A backpacker on the Grand Canyon's Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop.

Todd Arndt backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop.

By Michael Lanza

This is, in a way, a story about addiction. Or a love affair. Or both. Because those are the best metaphors I can come up with for how the Grand Canyon consistently lures me back when I’m thinking about spring and fall hiking and backpacking trips. It is that rare kind of natural environment that exists on a scale of its own, like Alaska or the Himalaya. There’s something soul-stirring and hypnotic about its infinite vistas, the deceptive scale of the canyon walls and stone towers, and the way the foreground and background continually expand and shrink as you ascend and descend elevation gradients of a vertical mile or more—all of which validates enduring the wilting heat and trails that sometimes seem better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates.

I’m going to show you, in words and photos, why one or more of these Big Ditch backpacking trips deserves top priority as you’re planning for spring or fall trips. Continue reading →

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop

November 26, 2018  |  In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

Jeff Wilhelm at a waterfall on the Patio, Deer Creek Trail, Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

The heat presses in from all sides as we hike down the Bill Hall Trail off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The overhead sun feels as if it has expanded to a supernova threatening to engulf the planet. The rocks radiate waves of heat up at us; I wonder if they might actually reach egg-frying temperature today. Even the air seems to be rising to a boil like a vast kettle on a stove. We hike cautiously over broken stones that slide underfoot, leaning out onto our trekking poles for the two- and three-foot ledge drops on this path—which appears better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates hauling backpacks weighed down with gear, food, and a surplus of a rare element out here: water. Continue reading →

October 22, 2018 A backpacker along the Colorado River on the Grand Canyon's Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop.

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone remembers his or her first visit to the desert Southwest. The bizarre, vividly colored geology of southern Utah and Arizona ignites wildfires of the imagination that burn permanent impressions. I recall staring at rock formations sculpted in ways I’d never observed before and thinking, “How can this be?” And you’ll find very worthy dayhikes and roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands. But leaving civilization for days to probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—opens invisible doors to experiences that amplify the feelings inspired by these mystical landscapes.

After a quarter-century of chasing the best backpacking trips in southern Utah and the Grand Canyon area, I’ve put together this list of what I submit are the 10 best. Continue reading →

June 25, 2018 Granite Park, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Big Wilderness, No Crowds: 5 Top Backpacking Trips For Solitude

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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 more wild—makes 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, you’ll probably have company—maybe more than you prefer.

Not on these five trips, though. From California’s High Sierra to the North Cascades and Wind River Range, and Idaho’s beloved Sawtooths to the peerless majesty of the Grand Canyon, here are five multi-day hikes where you’re guaranteed to enjoy a degree of solitude—at least on long stretches of the trip—that’s equal to the scenery. Continue reading →

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