Kootenay National Park

Rock Slide Lake in Idaho's southern Sawtooth Mountains.

Photo Gallery: 30 Gorgeous Backcountry Lakes

By Michael Lanza Water makes up about 60 percent of our bodies—and, I suspect, 100 percent of our hearts. We crave it not only physically, for survival, but emotionally, for spiritual rejuvenation. We love playing in it for hours as children and we paddle and swim in it as adults. We’re drawn by the calming effects of sitting beside a …

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Trekkers on the Alta Via 2 in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.

My 30 Most Scenic Days of Hiking Ever

By Michael Lanza

We can all remember specific places that we consider the best days of hiking we’ve ever had. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate: I have hiked many trails in America and around the world that would probably make anyone’s list of most-scenic hikes. From numerous trips in iconic national parks like Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Glacier to the John Muir Trail and Teton Crest Trail and some of the world’s great treks, including the Alta Via 2 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (lead photo, above), the Tour du Mont Blanc, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail, and the icy and jagged mountains of Norway and Patagonia, here’s a list of the 30 hands-down prettiest days I’ve ever spent walking dirt and rock footpaths.

I think you’ll find some places in here to add to your must-do list.

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A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail on Death Canyon Shelf, Grand Teton National Park.

How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips

By Michael Lanza Wilderness backpacking opens new worlds to us. While dayhiking can bring you to many beautiful places in nature, walking for days through the backcountry, carrying all you need on your back, inspires a liberating sense of self-sufficiency and solitude as you escape the crowds to explore places most people never see. This article lays out in 12 …

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A backpacker on the Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Best of the Canadian Rockies: Backpacking the Rockwall Trail

By Michael Lanza A few hours into our hike’s first day, we round a bend in the trail to a sight that can stop you in your tracks: a pair of skyscraping stone monoliths rising thousands of feet above the treetops. Silhouetted by the sun arcing toward the west, the peaks resemble nothing less than a pair of El Capitans …

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A backpacker on the Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Photo Gallery: The Rockwall Trail in the Canadian Rockies

By Michael Lanza

A few hours into our hike’s first day, we came around a bend in the trail to a sight that stopped us cold: a pair of skyscraping stone monoliths rising thousands of feet above the treetops. Silhouetted by the sun arcing toward the west, the peaks resembled a pair of El Capitans standing shoulder to shoulder. A little while later, one of the tallest waterfalls in the Rocky Mountains came into view: Helmet Falls, plunging 1,154 feet (352m) over a cliff.

After that, the scenery really got good.

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