Tag Archives: Colorado River

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 →

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 →

May 28, 2018 Ancient Puebloan ruins in Woodenshoe Canyon, Dark Canyon Wilderness, Utah.

Ancient and Modern Folly: Backpacking Utah’s Dark Canyon

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By Michael Lanza

About five miles down Woodenshoe Canyon, under a blazing sun in southeast Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness, David stops on the sandy trail ahead of me and points to a barely distinguishable feature in the cliffs above us. We set our backpacks on the ground and follow a faint path up onto slabs below the cliffs. Scrambling and zigzagging our way upward, we reach a wide ledge below the overhanging cliff face.

In the shaded alcove below that breaking tsunami of sandstone, we stand quietly before the ruins of a small, one-room stone structure barely large enough for two people to lie down inside—a tiny home built centuries before Columbus arrived in the New World. Continue reading →

April 22, 2018

The 10 Best National Park Backpacking Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Olympic, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, Zion, Grand Teton, Mount Rainier, Canyonlands, Sequoia, Great Smoky Mountains. To backpackers, these names read like a list of America’s greatest cathedrals in nature—and no surprise, because these parks hold some of the most scenic, adventurous, and coveted backpacking trips in the country. Hike any of them and it will earn a spot on your personal top-10 list. Knock off all 10 trips on this list and you will experience some of the finest landscapes not only in the nation, but on the planet.

Ready to be blown away? Scroll through this list and find your next unforgettable trip. Continue reading →

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