family hiking

A young girl hiking in Sequoia National Park.

The 9 Hardest Lessons for Parents Who Love the Outdoors

A Manual for Staying Sane Through the Greatest Adventure of Your Life

By Michael Lanza

Raising children is a lot of work—any parent knows that. But for people who love the outdoors, combining parenting with their passion for hiking, backpacking, skiing, camping, climbing, kayaking, or other outdoor activities poses added challenges.

In many ways, at least when children are young, what you do outside with them is both easier than what you did outside before you had kids (you regress to beginner level) and exponentially harder (for all the cat herding and stuff-management involved). The rewards can seem elusive. You may wonder whether it’s worth the time and effort. The Complaint Department stays open 24-7 and you’re the embattled manager.

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A hiker on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Best Hike in Bryce Canyon National park

By Michael Lanza Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop/Queens Garden Loop is a popular trail for good reason, with constant views of hoodoos—the multi-colored, limestone, sandstone, and mudstone spires that look like giant, melting candles, including the famous formation called Thor’s Hammer. But once turning onto the Peek-a-Boo Loop, you lose the crowds—and discover the scenic heart of Bryce Canyon while hiking …

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Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking in Zion National Park

By Michael Lanza

Even in the Southwest, a region where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, Zion National Park stands out. Other places have natural arches, spires, and ancient cliff dwellings, but no place really matches Zion’s grandeur: cliffs up to 2,000 feet tall stretching for miles, the rock’s purity of white and deep burgundy, and patterns of striations rippling across a span of stone that dwarfs Man’s greatest buildings and monuments. Perhaps that’s why it was Utah’s first national park, designated in the same year, 1919, as Grand Canyon and Acadia.

As the photos below demonstrate, Zion harbors some of America’s best dayhiking and backpacking.

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12 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that one of my kids, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

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Two young kids backpacking at Upper Lyman Lakes in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness.

10 Tips for Taking Kids on Their First Backpacking Trip

By Michael Lanza

Whether you’re a family of novices planning your first backpacking trip or an experienced backpacker ready to take your kids on their first multi-day hike, heed this friendly advice: You’re in for some surprises. And I speak from experience. I’d been backpacking for years—in fact, I was already working as a professional backpacker—when my wife (also a longtime backpacker) and I first dove into the grand new adventure of taking our young kids into the wilderness.

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