Tag Archives: Idaho backpacking

May 21, 2018 Scrambling to the summit of Mount Heyburn.

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

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By Michael Lanza

When can you claim to know a mountain range well? Maybe it’s once you have spent enough time—certainly measured in years, and probably decades—that you have explored beyond the most accessible and popular spots to the obscure, unknown corners. Perhaps it’s when you have hiked most of its trails. Just possibly, it’s when you unfold a map and it takes several minutes to tick off for someone all the places you have visited. That’s a good start, anyway.

I’ve been exploring Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains for 20 years—backpacking and dayhiking, climbing peaks, backcountry skiing—and have fallen in love with these rugged, crenulated peaks. I think you’ll see why in this photo gallery. Continue reading →

May 15, 2018 A backpacker near Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington.

5 Great Adventures You Can Still Pull Off in 2018

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By Michael Lanza

So you didn’t plan far enough in advance to reserve a permit for backpacking this summer in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, or another popular national park, eh? So, now what? Where will you take a big outdoor adventure in 2018? Here are five backpacking trips that even slackers still have time to plan and execute this year. Four of them are in top-tier national parks for backpacking, and the fifth is a multi-day hike with national park-caliber mountain scenery. Continue reading →

January 29, 2018 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of hauling a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

January 9, 2018 A backpacker in the Bailey Range, Olympic National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

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By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I have grown pickier about my backpacking and other backcountry adventures. The best-known trails, peaks, and wilderness waters are usually beautiful; but sometimes, for various reasons, they just don’t do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It often requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical, navigational, or technical challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

For this story, I’ve picked out 10 places I’ve been that still remain wild. Continue reading →

November 7, 2017

Middle of Nowhere: Hiking Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon Trail

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By Michael Lanza

I pause on a trail 300 feet above one of the West’s wildest rivers, deep in the second-largest wilderness area in the contiguous United States. Below me, Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River bends like an elbow between steep mountainsides of ponderosa pines in a canyon nearly 4,000 feet deep. I notice people and rafts on a beach campsite—the first people I’ve seen since I started hiking from Boundary Creek seven miles upstream almost three hours ago, planning to reach Indian Creek, another 20 miles downstream, by this evening.

Suddenly, a nasal shriek startles me. I spin around to see an elk crossing the trail I’d walked minutes ago. And I think: Welcome to the Idaho wilderness. Continue reading →

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