Sequoia & Kings Canyon national parks

Backpackers passing a tarn along the Highline Trail/Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places in America’s West

By Michael Lanza

Over more than three decades of backpacking adventures throughout America’s West, I’ve been fortunate to explore deeply into our most cherished national parks, wilderness areas, and protected backcountry. Many—indeed, all—are beautiful. But some places rise above the rest, inspiring a sense of awe that can motivate us to reorder our priorities and rearrange our lives—and they have that effect on us every time we return to them. This story spotlights those special places in the West and many trips that you can take in them.

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A backpacker at Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

By Michael Lanza

Are you looking for great trip ideas for your bucket list? Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. This freshly updated story spotlights seven of the best wildlands in the U.S., including Glacier, Yosemite, North Cascades (photo above), Sequoia and three wilderness areas, plus three international adventures that may not be on your radar—all of them worthy of your bucket list.

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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.

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza What makes for a great backpacking trip? Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. While there’s definitely something inspirational about a big walk in the wild, some of the finest trips in the country can be done in a few days and half of the hikes on this list …

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A campsite at Precipice Lake in Sequoia National Park.

How to Get One of America’s Best Backcountry Campsites

By Michael Lanza

Precipice Lake sits in a granite bowl at 10,400 feet along the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia National Park, about a half-mile before 10,700-foot Kaweah Gap. Below the north face of 12,040-foot Eagle Scout Peak, with the nearest tree at least a couple of trail miles below it, the lake’s glassy, green and blue waters reflect a white and golden cliff with black water streaks that embraces the lakeshore across from the trail.

A ribbon-like waterfall, originating in a remnant glacier above the lake, pours down the cliff. Walking up to Precipice Lake reflexively triggers the part of our frontal lobe that’s responsible for the word: “Wow.”

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