Tag Archives: Ten Thousand Islands

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 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 →

April 10, 2017 Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park

Tent Flap With A View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

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By Michael Lanza

An unforgettable campsite can define a backcountry trip. Sometimes that perfect spot where you spend a night forges the memory that remains the most vivid long after you’ve gone home. A photo of that camp can send recollections of the entire adventure rushing back to you—it does for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over more than two decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to these 25.

I update this list every year, and each time, it becomes more difficult. This year, I’m adding two spots where I camped in the past year: below the East Face of Mount Whitney, and on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Below my top 25 list you’ll find a second list of campsites that were previously in my top 25.  Continue reading →

February 27, 2017 Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

10 Favorite National Park Adventures With Kids

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By Michael Lanza

The crowning achievement of our National Park System is that we have preserved such uniquely beautiful and significant pieces of nature in perpetuity. But the payoff for America’s foresight in creating and expanding the system is a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable experiences awaiting us in these places—many of them entirely accessible, safe, and really fun for families with kids in a range of ages, from very young to teenagers. Here are 10 favorites selected from among the many trips I’ve taken—and the time to start planning them is right now. Continue reading →

January 17, 2017 Mangrove tunnel, East River, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Florida.

Photo Gallery: Paddling the Everglades

In Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I confess: Everglades National Park was not near the top of my adventure to-do list before I went there the first time, during an all-day layover in Miami waiting for a flight to Chile to trek in Patagonia. After a short hike in the park, I knew I had to return for a longer visit with my kids. My family spent our first day there paddling through a series of long mangrove tunnels on the East River (lead photo above), watching scores of exotic birds fly just overhead: snowy egrets, white ibises, black anhingas, tri-colored herons, brown pelicans, great blue herons (everything that flies here seems to have a color in its name). And we saw alligators—several of them, up to 12 feet long—floating listlessly on the river’s surface. Continue reading →

December 12, 2016 Floating the Green River in Canyonlands National Park.

My Top 10 Family Outdoor Adventures

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

How many outdoor trips do you have on the calendar for 2017 already? I have four (with others in active planning stages)—and three of those are with my family. In fact, planning months in advance and involving my family are my first two rules for getting outside more. For me, this is the time of year for pulling out maps, researching online and in guidebooks, and poring over my list of adventures I want to take—which is now nearly 18,000 words long and growing. I need to get busy—and so do you.

To help you out with ideas and inspiration for next year, here are My Top 10 Family Adventures at The Big Outside, a list that includes seven national parks, three amazing paddling adventures, four trips that should be on every backpacker’s to-do list, hiking an active volcano, and cross-country skiing amid the greatest concentration of active geysers in the world. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker