Joshua Tree National Park

A young woman hiker near the summit of Mount Bláhnúkur, above Landmannalaugar, Iceland.

10 Tips For Getting Outside More

By Michael Lanza

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Who does? For many of us, work, home, and other responsibilities erect roadblocks to getting out as much as we’d like—even as spending time outdoors feels ever more urgent and necessary. This story shares 10 simple strategies to help you sate your appetite for getting outdoors, both on short outings near home and longer trips away from home.

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A hiker on the Taylor Creek Trail in Zion National Park.

The 17 Best Uncrowded National Park Dayhikes

By Michael Lanza

The best-known dayhikes in America’s national parks are certainly worth adding to your outdoor-adventure CV. Summits and hiking trails like Angels Landing in Zion, Half Dome in Yosemite, the North Rim Trail overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Glacier National Park’s Highline Trail, the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail and many others represent the highlights of the crown jewels of the National Park System. And for that very reason, unless you take those hikes outside the peak seasons or times of day, you can expect to encounter a lot of other people.

But there are other national park dayhikes that remain off the radar of many hikers—so they attract a tiny fraction of the number of people flocking to the popular trails. This story will point you toward many of the best of them.

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The Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Photo Gallery: Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

By Michael Lanza

In the Southern California desert, where the Mojave and Colorado-Sonoran deserts overlap amid a sea of hundreds of granite monoliths, lies one of America’s most unusual outdoor playgrounds: Joshua Tree National Park. Long known as a mecca for rock climbers, with some 8,000 established climbing routes, the park also has miles of trails for hiking, running, and horseback riding, beautiful camping among rock formations where kids can scramble around, and a vast backcountry to explore within its nearly 800,000 acres, more than half of which is protected as wilderness.

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A hiker in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Photo Gallery: California’s National Parks

By Michael Lanza

Examine the wealth of natural places protected within our 59 national parks, and you’ll quickly see that no state has more than California’s nine (more even than Alaska’s eight). And arguably, no state has a greater diversity of parks than the Golden State, from desert to snowy mountains, giant sequoias and redwoods to rocky islands, the highest peak in the Lower 48 to the lowest and hottest patch of scorched earth. The list includes some of our most iconic and beloved parks and some of the least-known, least-crowded, and most mysterious: Channel Islands. Death Valley. Joshua Tree. Kings Canyon. Lassen Volcanic. Pinnacles. Redwood. Sequoia. Yosemite.

Doesn’t that list make you want to start planning a trip right now?

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A rock climber hiking in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Facing the Biggest Challenge: Friendship and Climbing in Joshua Tree

By Michael Lanza

A dry, invisible waterfall of heat pours from the desert sky as we follow a footpath through the Wonderland of Rocks, a vast archipelago of granite monoliths and spires floating in an ocean of sand in the backcountry of southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. My friend David and I are in search of one particular crack in one specific stone skyscraper, which feels a little like picking through hundreds of haystacks scattered across a farm in pursuit of one needle.

We high-step through gardens of prickly-pear cacti and other vegetation that has evolved to put a hurt on you for the easy mistake of brushing against it. I pause frequently to consult photos of some of these granite monoliths in my guidebook to help pinpoint our location. I also contemplate—as seems to happen whenever I head out rock climbing for the first time in a while—the complicated human relationship with fear. There’s the natural anxiousness that can accompany trying to claw your way up a sheer cliff. But fear and its antipode, courage, take many forms. One can be so difficult to confront that it destroys lives. The other can save them.

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