Laugavegur Trail

Hikers descending off Mount Bláhnúkur, above Landmannalaugar, Iceland.

Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails—A Photo Gallery

By Michael Lanza

We follow the trail upward through innumerable, short switchbacks to the summit of a battleship-gray, steep-sided peak called Bláhnúkur in the remote Fjallabak Nature Reserve of Iceland’s Central Highlands, one of the most active geothermal areas on Earth. At the summit, we turn a slow 360, gaping at a mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic landscape painted in more colors than there are probably species of plant life on the volcanic slopes surrounding us. An old, hardened lava flow pours down one mountainside in a jumbled train wreck of razor-sharp black rhyolite. Barren peaks and ridges wearing the white splotches of July snowfields reach to every horizon.

Read on

A hiker on the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.

15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life

By Michael Lanza

Can travel “change your life?” How many experiences have such an enormous impact? I can name several that shifted my perspective on adventure or expanded how I view the world and other people. Exploring the surreal landscapes of Iceland and Patagonia. Walking among Earth’s highest mountains in Nepal, through remote villages where people live much as their ancestors did for centuries. Immersing myself in the mountain culture on hut treks in the Alps like the Tour du Mont Blanc (photo above). And seeing unforgettable places like Norway’s Jotunheimen National ParkItaly’s Dolomites, and Alaska’s Glacier Bay through the unclouded eyes of my kids.

Read on

A backpacker at a small tarn in the upper valley of Middle Fork Lake on the Wind River High Route.

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, 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.

Read on

A family trekking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.

New Year Inspiration: My Top 10 Adventure Trips

By Michael Lanza

I often get asked the question, “What’s your favorite trip?” And I don’t have an answer. To pick just one from all the amazing adventures I’ve had the good fortune to take over the past three decades feels like an impossible task. Instead, I’ve just updated this list of my 10 all-time favorites (so far). It includes some of America’s best backpacking trips, from the Teton Crest Trail and John Muir Trail to Glacier National Park; hiking across the Grand Canyon; trekking in Iceland, Patagonia, Norway, and Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (photo above); and some places that might surprise you.

Read on

A family hiking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

10 Expert Tips for Doing Adventure Travel Right

By Michael Lanza

What exactly is “adventure travel?” While we may all define it slightly differently, I think there are universal commonalities to it. Real adventure transports you into a physical and emotional place you have never gone before, or rarely go. It brings surprises and occasionally hardships. But the good surprises are a gift that often comes wrapped in wonder and awe, while the hardships teach us something about the world and, usually, about ourselves.

Our earliest adventures can help kindle a fire for more experiences that deliver that buzz again—that feeling of being entirely on your own and not knowing what’s going to happen next, but whatever lies ahead, you’re eager to leap into it.

Read on