Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

By Michael Lanza

We all love the majesty of mountains. But the vividly colored, sometimes bizarre, occasionally incomprehensible geology of the Southwest canyon country enchants and inspires us in ways that words can only begin to describe. And while you will find very worthy dayhikes and even roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands, you really have to put on a backpack and probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—to get a full sense of the scale, details, and hidden mysteries of these mystical landscapes.

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A backpacker hiking above Death Hollow on the Boulder Mail Trail in southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

16 Photos From 2023 That Will Inspire Your Next Adventure

By Michael Lanza

How was your 2023? I hope you 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 the seven backpacking trips I took this year (in addition to the usual dayhiking, climbing, skiing, etc.). In early April, I went on a pair of three-day hikes in Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon and on a section of the Arizona Trail that was in the midst of a wildly colorful wildflower bloom. On a two-family trip to the Canadian Rockies in late July and early August, we backpacked two amazing routes, the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park and a piece of the Great Divide Trail into the White Goat Wilderness.

Later in August, I returned yet again to the Wind River Range for a roughly 41-mile hike that I am prepared to boldly call the best multi-day hike in the Winds (and that’s saying an awful lot). September featured a much-anticipated return to Glacier National Park for a seven-day hike complicated by an ever-present possibility in Glacier—”bear activity”—following trails I have walked before but which I think could never fail to inspire a sense of awe. And finally, in early October, two friends and I backpacked a three-day loop in southern Utah’s Escalante region that exceeded even my high expectations for it.

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Michael Lanza's family sea kayaking in Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park.

7 Tips For Getting Your Family on Outdoor Adventure Trips

By Michael Lanza

In the Digital Era, the idea of families spending sustained time outdoors—actually taking trips built around some outdoor adventure enjoyed together—can feel like a wonderful aspiration that’s awfully hard to achieve. But that lifestyle is a reality for many families—and always has been for mine—and one that brings parents and children together for long periods of time (hours or even days!) in beautiful places in nature for an activity that’s genuinely fun and, most importantly, unplugged.

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A father and son below Jacob Hamblin Arch, Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

10 Tips For Keeping Kids Happy and Safe Outdoors

By Michael Lanza

Some people might say my wife and I are bad parents. We’ve repeatedly and deliberately placed our kids—at young ages—in risky situations. And I’m not talking about letting them ride their bikes without wearing helmets or frequently taking them to McDonald’s.

I’m talking about setting out with seven- and four-year-old kids to cross-country ski through a snowstorm for hours to a backcountry yurt. Tying a six-year-old into a rope and letting him or her rock climb a cliff. Rappelling into slot canyons. Backpacking into the remotest and most rugged wildernesses in the contiguous United States, from the Grand Canyon to the Tetons to Glacier National Park.

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A young boy hiking through Peek-a-Boo Gulch in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Video: Hiking Utah’s Slot Canyons Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulch

By Michael Lanza

Send four kids age 10 to 12 through a tight slot canyon where they have to pull themselves over short pour-offs, duck through natural arches, and twist and contort their bodies to squeeze between wildly curved walls that frequently narrow to just inches wide, and they hardly stop gushing about it. “Wow, this is so cool!” “That’s amazing!” “Awesome!” We heard a lot of that when my friend Justin Hayes and I hiked Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with our kids. Watch this video and you’ll see why.

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