Tag Archives: North Cascades

July 10, 2017 Sunset at Idaho's City of Rocks National Reserve.

Why I Never Miss a Wilderness Sunset or Sunrise

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The June evening was more than a few hours old when, without warning, the sky suddenly caught fire. The kids, teenagers and ’tweeners, and some of the adults in our group scrambled up onto the largest nearby rock formation to observe the sunset from high off the ground. Like a wildfire swept forward by wind, hues of yellow, orange, and red leapt across bands of clouds suspended above the western horizon, their ragged bottoms edges, appropriately, resembling dancing flames.

For a span of just minutes that felt timeless, the light painted and repainted the clouds in ever-shifting, warm colors starkly contrasted against the cool, deepening blue of the sky—as if a vast lake had ignited. We stood hypnotized and enchanted on that evening during a long weekend of camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, until the last, dying flames of the celestial conflagration faded and were extinguished. For that brief time, the sunset had us completely in its thrall. Continue reading →

July 2, 2017 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

My Top 10 Favorite Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is a mandatory qualification. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All of my top 10 are in national parks or federal wilderness areas.

Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of humping a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

June 26, 2017 Granite Park, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Big Wilderness, No Crowds: Top 5 Backpacking Trips For Scenery and Solitude

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

We all want our wilderness backpacking trips to have two sometimes conflicting qualities: mind-blowing scenery, but also few other people around. A high degree of solitude somehow makes the backcountry feel more wild—makes the views more breathtaking. However unrealistic the notion may be, we like to believe we have some stunning corner of nature to ourselves. But in the real world, if you head out into popular mountains in July or August, you’ll probably have company—maybe more than you prefer.

Not on these five trips, though. From California’s High Sierra to the Cascades, and Idaho’s beloved Sawtooths to the peerless majesty of the Grand Canyon, here are five multi-day hikes where you’re guaranteed to enjoy a degree of solitude—at least on long stretches of the trip—that’s equal to the scenery. Continue reading →

June 12, 2017 Hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park.

The 12 Best Uncrowded National Park Dayhikes

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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, and many others represent the highlights of the crown jewels of the National Park System. But 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 hikers.

But there are other national park dayhikes that remain off the radar of many hikers—so they attract a small fraction of the number of people flocking to the popular trails. On these 12 hikes, you’ll find scenery just as majestic as those famous trails, while possibly having these spots to yourself (as I did on several of them). Continue reading →

June 5, 2017 Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

The 20 Best National Park Dayhikes

In Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

America’s most stunning landscapes are protected within our 59 national parks, and some of the finest corners of our national heritage can be reached on dayhikes. Many can be done by kids and novice hikers. I’ve spent a few decades exploring most major U.S. national parks, making numerous trips to popular ones like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Grand Teton, and Zion (lead photo, above). From the thousands of very scenic miles I’ve hiked over the years, I’ve assembled here a list of the best dayhikes you can walk in our parks. Start ticking them off this year. Continue reading →

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