Fimmvörðuháls Trail

A backpacker at a small tarn in the upper valley of Middle Fork Lake on the Wind River High Route.

My 30 Most Scenic Days of Hiking Ever

By Michael Lanza

We can all remember specific places that we consider the best days of hiking we’ve ever had. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate: I have hiked many trails in America and around the world that would probably make anyone’s list of most-scenic hikes. From numerous trips in iconic national parks like Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Glacier to the John Muir Trail and Teton Crest Trail and some of the world’s great treks, including the Alta Via 2 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, the Tour du Mont Blanc, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails, and the icy and jagged mountains of Norway and Patagonia, here’s a list of the 30 hands-down prettiest days I’ve ever spent walking dirt and rock footpaths.

I think you’ll find some places in here to add to your must-do list.

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A backpacker hiking past Minaret Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, High Sierra.

10 Photos From 2022 That Will Inspire Your Next Adventure

By Michael Lanza

How was your 2022? I hope you stayed healthy and got outdoors as much as possible with the people you care about—and you enjoyed adventures that inspired you. I’m sharing in this story photos from four major trips I took this year (besides the usual dayhiking, climbing, skiing, etc.): backpacking a five-day loop through a great area of the Wind River Range; six days exploring a couple of relatively obscure and much less-busy routes in the Grand Canyon; 130 miles over nine days through the High Sierra, including a premier section of the John Muir Trail; and spending nearly three weeks in Iceland with my family, trekking the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails followed by driving Iceland’s Ring Road and taking dayhikes along it.

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A hiker on the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.

15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life

By Michael Lanza

Can travel “change your life?” How many experiences have such an enormous impact? I can name several that shifted my perspective on adventure or expanded how I view the world and other people. Exploring the surreal landscapes of Iceland and Patagonia. Walking among Earth’s highest mountains in Nepal, through remote villages where people live much as their ancestors did for centuries. Immersing myself in the mountain culture on hut treks in the Alps like the Tour du Mont Blanc (photo above). And seeing unforgettable places like Norway’s Jotunheimen National ParkItaly’s Dolomites, and Alaska’s Glacier Bay through the unclouded eyes of my kids.

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Hikers overlooking Iceland's second-tallest waterfall,, Glymur, at the head of the fjord Hvalfjörður.

9 Great Hikes and Walks Along Iceland’s Ring Road

By Michael Lanza

Driving Iceland’s Highway 1, or Ring Road, in the country’s southeast on the kind of sunny day that’s almost as rare here as the sensation of boredom, we reached the seacoast—and the landscape and seascape suddenly seemed to exceed the capacity of our vision and minds to take it all in. The two-lane highway snaked along this island nation’s ragged edge, weaving in and out of one fjord after another, each as impossible to comprehend in its magnificence as it was to pronounce. The ocean crashed up against starkly barren yet wildly colorful mountains as we crossed bridges over intricately braided rivers, gazing up valleys where multiple, cracked glaciers tumbled nearly to sea level.

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Hikers descending off Mount Bláhnúkur, above Landmannalaugar, Iceland.

Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails—A Photo Gallery

By Michael Lanza

We follow the trail upward through innumerable, short switchbacks to the summit of a battleship-gray, steep-sided peak called Bláhnúkur in the remote Fjallabak Nature Reserve of Iceland’s Central Highlands, one of the most active geothermal areas on Earth. At the summit, we turn a slow 360, gaping at a mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic landscape painted in more colors than there probably are species of plant life on the volcanic slopes surrounding us. An old, hardened lava flow pours down one mountainside in a jumbled train wreck of razor-sharp black rhyolite. Barren peaks and ridges wearing the white splotches of July snowfields reach to every horizon.

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