Hells Canyon

A backpacker hiking into the Cirque of the Towers on Wyoming's Wind River High Route.

14 Photos From 2020 That Will Inspire You to Get Outdoors

By Michael Lanza For many people, 2020 was a hard year. I hope you stayed healthy and safe and were able to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible—and to take some adventures that inspired you. I had five planned trips (four backpacking, one river) canceled due to the pandemic and wildfires, but I was also fortunate to get out …

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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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Saddle Creek Trail, Hells Canyon, Oregon.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking Hells Canyon

By Michael Lanza

North America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon, is a place defined by extremes—of scale, solitude, grandeur. Although protected as wilderness, it still harbors evidence of the settlers who, many decades ago, tried to carve a life out of its rugged contours and harsh climate: falling-down cabins, rusted farm equipment. Perhaps more than any wild land I’ve known, this canyon fills me with a sense of having dropped out of time, of diving, wide-eyed, into Alice’s rabbit-hole. The biggest disconnect? That a place so ruggedly beautiful could attract so few visitors. See for yourself in this photo gallery, then read my story and see more photos from a four-day, 56-mile, rim-to-river-to-rim, solo backpacking trip on the Oregon side of the canyon.

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Hell Hath No Fury: The Stark Beauty, Solitude, and Surprises of Hells Canyon

By Michael Lanza

Pfft…pfft.

The sound barely registers inside the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag. It’s different—softer—than the anesthetic patter of rain that lulled me to sleep hours ago. Working slowly, like a cranky old PC, my brain powers up to identify the source: snow. In April.

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