Ouzel Lake

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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A backpacker hiking over Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park.

5 Perfect National Park Backpacking Trips for Beginners

By Michael Lanza So you’re a novice backpacker, or you’re planning your first backpacking trip in a big, Western national park, or you have kids you want to take on a relatively easy backpacking trip—and you want to sample the best scenery, trails, and backcountry campsites that experienced backpackers get to enjoy in our national parks. No worries. These five …

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Ouzel Lake in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The 5 Rules About Kids I Broke While Backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park

By Michael Lanza

“I’m dying!” my son, Nate, bellowed to the entire forest in the Wild Basin of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. “This pack is too heavy!” We were just 30 minutes up the trail at the outset of a three-day backpacking trip. It was a trip that seemed like an unmitigated disaster for the first two days—then morphed into an adventure my kids clearly enjoyed and that helped expand their outdoor interests.

For me, those three days in Rocky serve as a reminder about the many ways you can do it wrong when taking kids outdoors, but how simple it is to make it right.

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Ouzel Lake in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ask Me: What Are the Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and Near Breckenridge, CO?

Michael,

Thank you for continuing to both inform and inspire through The Big Outside. Your efforts are always appreciated.

As I mentioned to you a couple years ago, my wife, daughter and I have been making an annual trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in late August. We love everything about it, but after climbing Longs Peak a couple times, I would like to see some more of the Rockies. As our schedules/work circumstances have recently changed, I have an opportunity to head to Colorado this June by myself. Although I plan to spend a couple days in Estes Park (it is important to me to go back and support the community that has meant so much to me and my family after the devastating flood last September), I would love some suggestions on getting the most out of the other 4-5 days.

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