Highline Trail

Backpackers passing a tarn along the Highline Trail/Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places in America’s West

By Michael Lanza

Over more than three decades of backpacking adventures throughout America’s West, I’ve been fortunate to explore deeply into our most cherished national parks, wilderness areas, and protected backcountry. Many—indeed, all—are beautiful. But some places rise above the rest, inspiring a sense of awe that can motivate us to reorder our priorities and rearrange our lives—and they have that effect on us every time we return to them. This story spotlights those special places in the West and many trips that you can take in them.

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A backpacker on the northern Highline Trail in Glacier National Park.

5 Backpacking Trips for Solitude in Glacier National Park

By Michael Lanza

Is it possible to find some degree of solitude backpacking in a national park as popular as Glacier? The answer is an unequivocal yes—even in Glacier’s relatively short peak season of mid-July through mid-September. And the strategies for doing so are remarkably simple and will not compromise the quality of your experience in other ways—in fact, encountering fewer people only increases the chances of encountering wildlife. This article describes five backpacking trips where you are virtually guaranteed to enjoy serious solitude in Glacier National Park.

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

The 7 Best Long Hikes in Glacier National Park

By Michael Lanza

The morning sun wouldn’t make the climb over Mount Grinnell and find its way into the valley of Swiftcurrent Creek for a couple of hours yet, so we hiked quickly without breaking a sweat in the chilly air. No one else was on the popular Swiftcurrent Pass Trail when we set out shortly after dawn, and this trail was new to us; so it felt like we were the first people to walk into this small but spectacular little crease in the mountains of Glacier National Park.

There was a good reason for our early start: We had a big day ahead of us, one of the finest long days of hiking one can do in this flagship national park—a judgment I make based on numerous visits dayhiking and backpacking much of Glacier over the past three decades, including 10 years I spent as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.

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A hiker on Half Dome's cable route in Yosemite National Park.

Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes

By Michael Lanza

Imagine this: You’re heading out on a long, beautiful hike deep in the backcountry, but instead of a full backpack, you carry a light daypack. You’ve avoided hassles with getting a backcountry permit and there’s no camp to set up and pack up. I love backpacking—and I do it a lot. But sometimes, I prefer to knock off a weekend-length—or longer—hike in one big day.

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A backpacker hiking into Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

In late afternoon, near the end of a day of backpacking some 14 miles—mostly above 10,000 feet—two friends and I walked into Titcomb Basin, deep in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, mouths gaping open. Forming a horseshoe embracing this alpine valley at over 10,500 feet, mountains soared more than 3,000 feet above the windblown Titcomb Lakes, including the second-highest in the Winds, 13,745-foot Fremont Peak, on the Continental Divide.

But by that point on the first day of our 39-mile backpacking trip, my companions were fully smitten by the Winds—as I have been since my first trip there 30 years ago.

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