Joshua Tree National Park

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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Young kids backpacking through Spray Park in Mount Rainier National Park.

Photo Gallery: 11 National Parks, One Year

By Michael Lanza

Backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Glacier, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, North Cascades, and Mount Rainier (lead photo, above) national parks. Hiking to Yosemite’s waterfalls. Paddling the Everglades and sea kayaking Glacier Bay. Rock climbing in Joshua Tree, and cross-country skiing in Yellowstone. In one magical year, we took 11 national park adventures with our kids, sharing experiences that expanded their understanding of their world, times filled with joy and wonder.

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Hikers on Dog Mountain, Columbia Gorge, Washington.

Photo Gallery: My Best Wildflower Pictures

By Michael Lanza

On a sunny, spring afternoon, we hiked through lush, quiet forest up the steep Dog Mountain Trail, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. After climbing more than 2,000 vertical feet (the trail ascends a calf-pumping 2,800 feet in three miles to the summit), we broke out of the shade of trees onto slopes carpeted with one of the best wildflower displays you’ll see anywhere. Climbing higher still, we got sweeping views across the gorge to the snow and glaciers of Mount Hood. But the wildflowers stole the show.

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