Tag Archives: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

October 22, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments
A backpacker on the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

David Ports backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

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 →

July 10, 2018 Beaver dam in the Fishhook Creek Valley, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

12 Simple Landscape Photography Tips For Better Outdoor Photos

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. The following tips on outdoor and landscape photography, which I’ve learned from studying photography and over three decades of shooting the finest scenery in America and the world, will help you take home better photos whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer. 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 16, 2018 Day two backpacking The Narrows in Zion National Park.

The 5 Southwest Backpacking Trips You Should Do First

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

You want to explore the best backpacking in America’s desert Southwest, but you’re not sure where to begin, or how some of these trips you’ve read about compare for scenery and difficulty. You’ve heard about the need to carry huge loads of water, and environmental challenges like dangerous heat, rugged terrain, flash floods and even (gulp) quicksand. Or maybe you’ve taken one or two backpacking trips there and now you’re hungry for another one and seeking ideas for where to go next.

Well, I gotcha covered. The five trips described in this story comprise what might be called a Southwest Backpacking Starter Package. They are all beginner- and family-friendly in terms of trail or route quality, access, and navigability, and some have good water availability. But most importantly, regardless of their relative ease logistically, they all deliver the goods on the kind of adventure and scenery you go to the Southwest hoping to find. Continue reading →

April 9, 2018 Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park

Tent Flap With A View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   30 Comments

By Michael Lanza

An unforgettable campsite can define a backcountry trip. Sometimes that perfect spot where you spend a night forges the memory that remains the most vivid long after you’ve gone home. A photo of that camp can send recollections of the entire adventure rushing back to you—it does for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over nearly three decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to these 25.

I update this list every year, and each time, it becomes more difficult. This year, I’m adding a campsite in Titcomb Basin, in the heart of Wyoming’s majestic Wind River Range. Below my top 25 list you’ll find a second list of campsites that were previously in my top 25. Each campsite photo below includes a short description of where it is and the trip, and most have a link to an existing story about that trip at The Big Outside. Continue reading →

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