Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A backpacker on the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit

By Michael Lanza Backpackers trying to plan a trip in popular national parks like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains, and others have one experience in common: A high percentage of them see their backcountry permit application rejected. Countless backpacking trips over three decades—during which I was the Northwest Editor of Backpacker …

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A view from the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In the Garden of Eden: Backpacking the Great Smoky Mountains

By Michael Lanza

Late-afternoon sunlight tilts golden beams through the low canopy of spruce and fir trees as I hike alone up the Welch Ridge Trail, deep in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I haven’t seen another person all day. Solitude in the mountains exerts many effects, small and large, on us, including that we instinctively listen more attentively. Our rational minds cannot erase from primal memory the instinctive knowledge that, in the primitive brains of some woodland creatures, we represent a boatload of calories.

I stop abruptly and stand perfectly still—listening intently, waiting. And then I hear it.

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Larch trees glowing with fall color, reflected in Rainbow Lake in the North Cascades National Park Complex.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of …

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A backpacker on Nevada's Ruby Crest Trail.

9 Great Backpacking Trips You Can Take in 2021

By Michael Lanza My family just returned from two wonderful backpacking trips—six days in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness and four days on Nevada’s Ruby Crest Trail (photo above)—and especially in this year of chaos, serious health concerns, and unusual stress, these getaways were precisely what we needed. Are you looking for a wilderness backpacking trip you can take this year? …

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A backpacker on the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park.

12 Expert Tips for Finding Solitude When Backpacking

By Michael Lanza Solitude has always reigned as one of the holy grails of backpacking: We all dream of finding that lonely campsite deep in the wilderness with an amazing vista, or hiking for miles or days encountering few or even no other people on the trail. But reality often conflicts with expectations for many backpackers when they discover that …

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