Idaho

Whitewater rafters in Cliffside Rapid, Middle Fork Salmon River, Idaho.

Reunions of the Heart on Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River

By Michael Lanza Sitting in my inflatable kayak as our flotilla of more than a dozen rafts and kayaks launches on our first morning on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, I just drift and wait. And it takes only a moment before the feeling sinks in deeper than the warm sunshine on my skin: serenity. The profound peacefulness …

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A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I’ve gotten 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 don’t always do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It certainly begins with exceptional natural beauty, but often also requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical and other challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

The 10 places shown in the photos below are exactly that: still wild.

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A hiker near the summit of 10,751-foot Thompson Peak, the highest peak in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

The Roof of Idaho’s Sawtooths: Hiking Thompson Peak

By Michael Lanza Morning fog hung like a damp, cold blanket over the Sawtooth Valley as my wife, Penny, and I started hiking in early morning from the Redfish Trailhead, minutes from the shores of Redfish Lake. Before long, we caught our first view of our destination—and it looked quite far off: the pinpoint summit of 10,751-foot Thompson Peak, the highest in Idaho’s best-known …

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Backpackers on Trail 95 above Twin Lakes in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

The Best of Idaho’s Sawtooths: Backpacking Redfish to Pettit

By Michael Lanza Hiking up a forested section of Trail 101 in the Redfish Creek Valley of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, as I’m following a short distance behind a trio of loudly jabbering, 15-year-old boys—my son, Nate, and his buddies Kade and Iggy, whom Nate has invited on their first backpacking trip—we weave through an area where boulders the size of …

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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 …

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