Olympic National Park

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.

Read on

My daughter Alex on the trail to Spider Gap, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Ask Me: Backpacking Trips With an 11-Year-Old

Hi Michael,

My fifth-grade daughter and I spend most of our summer playing and hiking. We are upping our backpacking mileage each year and hope to be able to do the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier when she is 12. For this summer, we are looking to do a hike of about 60 to 75 miles. One possibility is the Pacific Crest Trail between Highway 50 and 80. It’s a beautiful route I’ve taken before. But I’m very open to other ideas. She’s tough and has built up to solid 10-mile days. Any help or direction you could give me would be great. I envy the time you have been able to spend in the wild.

Adam
Sacramento, CA

Read on

Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

Ask Me: Which National Parks Should My Family Visit on a Cross-Country Trip?

Hi Mike,

We are planning a trip across the country in July to Seattle/Tacoma. We have six kids (ages one to 12). We’re planning to drive all the way across and back in about a month. There are lots of places we’d like to experience, but we don’t want to just spend 30 nights in 30 different places, so we are planning spend two to three nights in the most interesting places and four nights in and around Yellowstone. We aren’t campers, don’t boat/canoe, and while we enjoy hikes with the kids, anything more than a few miles (or less if there is significant elevation change) is challenging. Given your experience and all of our constraints, I was curious which parks/areas you might recommend we visit (vs. better to visit later when the kids are older and some of those constraints are removed).

Read on

Ask Me: What Are Your Favorite Places in the Northwest and Northern Rockies?

Michael,

I’ve been checking out your excellent backpacking posts and think you may be the right person to help me out with my search. My partner and I have taken a year off work to travel around the U.S. We had a great time hiking and canyoneering in Escalante. So now we’re in the Northwest, and want to find a great wilderness base camp where we can set up for a few days and explore the surrounding area. I’ve heard great things about Idaho, but Washington, Montana and Wyoming are all within striking distance, too. So much choice! If you have any recommendations for us—even if it’s just a wilderness area to hone in on—they would be most gratefully received.

Thanks,
Brian
London, England

Read on

Grand Canyon from the South Rim.

Photo Gallery: 10 Beautiful National Parks You Can’t Visit Now (And What To Do Once They Reopen)

By Michael Lanza

With the federal government closed, we can’t hike, paddle, backpack, or climb in our national parks right now. No one knows when the government shutdown will end, but it can’t go on forever, right? (Right?! Someone please make this end soon!)

I’ve assembled below inspiring photos from 10 national parks, with links to stories (with more photos) about great outdoor-adventure trips in each one. You can’t take these trips now, but you can start scheming plans for when the parks are back up and running. Many of these experiences require planning weeks or months in advance, anyway.

So get on it. Your next adventure awaits.

Read on