Tag Archives: family backpacking

January 14, 2019 A hikers on the Observation Point Trail in Zion National Park.

Insider Tips: The 10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

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By Michael Lanza

At a bit over 147,000 acres, Zion comes nowhere near America’s largest national parks in sheer immensity. Zion could fit inside Yosemite National Park five times, inside the Everglades 10 times, inside Yellowstone 15 times, and inside our largest park, Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias, 89 times. But if you’re a hiker, Zion harbors, mile for mile, some of the most breathtaking scenery to be found on any trails in the National Park System.

This story will point you to Zion’s 10 best dayhikes (based on my personal experience of many visits there). See also my story “How to Avoid the Crowds When Hiking in Zion,” with insider tips on how to have a much more pleasant experience when hiking in what has become the third most-visited national park (after Great Smoky Mountains and Grand Canyon). Follow those tips and you will discover an entirely different experience when you’re not sharing the trails with hundreds of other hikers—as are often seen on hikes like Angels Landing and the lower Narrows from spring through fall. Continue reading →

January 13, 2019 At Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park, California.

Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness (Even Though It Scares the Sh!t Out of Me)

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments

By Michael Lanza

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy; mutiny doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility, so I don’t want to add “cold” to their growing list of grievances. I coax everyone to push on just a little farther, down out of the wind to a sun-splashed, snow-free area of dirt and rocks for lunch.

But I don’t like the looks of the steep slope we have to descend. Blanketed in snow made firm by freezing overnight temperatures, and littered with protruding boulders, it runs hundreds of feet down to a lake choked with icebergs—in mid-July. A trench stomped into the snow by other trekkers diagonals down to our lunch spot. It’s well traveled, but someone slipping in that track could rocket downhill at the speed of a car on a highway. I turn to our little party—which ranges in age from my nine-year-old daughter to my 75-year-old mother—and emphasize that we have to proceed extremely carefully. Continue reading →

January 7, 2019

New Year Inspiration: My Top 10 Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I often get asked the question, “What’s your favorite trip?” And I don’t have an answer. To pick just one from all the amazing adventures I’ve had the good fortune to take over the past two-plus decades feels like an impossible task. Instead, I’ve just updated this list of my 10 all-time favorites (so far). It includes some of America’s best backpacking trips, from the Teton Crest Trail and John Muir Trail to Glacier National Park; hiking across the Grand Canyon; trekking in Iceland, Patagonia, Norway, and Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (photo above); and some places that might surprise you. Continue reading →

December 30, 2018 Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack the Teton Crest Trail

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By Michael Lanza

On the second night of my first backpacking trip in Grand Teton National Park, I awoke to the sound of heavy clomping outside my tent. We were camped on Death Canyon Shelf, where the Teton Crest Trail traverses a broad, boulder- and wildflower-strewn bench at 9,500 feet, flanked by towering cliffs and the deep trench of Death Canyon. At the time, it was probably the most spectacular place I’d ever pitched a tent, and it’s still one of my most scenic backcountry campsites ever.

I unzipped my tent door to investigate—and saw a huge bull elk standing just outside my nylon walls. As I’ve come to learn over almost 20 trips to the Tetons since that first one a quarter-century ago, that elk symbolized just one of several compelling reasons why every backpacker should move the Teton Crest Trail to the top of their to-do list. And the date to apply for a backcountry permit is coming up very soon. 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 →

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