Tag Archives: Ten Thousand Islands

August 20, 2018 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 a nearby rock formation at least 50 feet tall 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 all, adults and kids, completely in its thrall. Continue reading →

April 9, 2018 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 nearly three 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 a campsite in Titcomb Basin, in the heart of Wyoming’s majestic Wind River Range. Below my top 25 list you’ll find a second list of campsites that were previously in my top 25. Each campsite photo below includes a short description of where it is and the trip, and most have a link to an existing story about that trip at The Big Outside. Continue reading →

March 19, 2018 Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

The 10 Best 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. From Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion (photo above) to Olympic, Grand Teton, and more, here are 10 of the very best national park outdoor adventures with kids—and the time to start planning them is now. Continue reading →

January 10, 2018 Floating the Green River through Stillwater Canyon, Canyonlands National Park.

5 Great Age-Appropriate National Park Family Adventures

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By Michael Lanza

“What national park adventure should we take with our kids?” That’s a question I get frequently from parents. It’s a tough one to answer, given all the great choices. But my advice always focuses on the ages of kids, because that’s how I’ve always thought about picking the right trips for my kids. I ask myself: What’s the most fun, inspirational, and safe adventure we can take them on at their ages?

I’ve compiled below five recommendations for absolute, must-do national park trips for families (with links to my story about each for more info and photos), arranged in order from the easiest, for younger kids, to the most challenging, for older, more-experienced kids. Continue reading →

December 11, 2017 Teenage girl descending off the Fenetre d’Arpette on the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps.

The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

As a parent of teenagers who’s taken his kids on outdoor adventures since before they can remember, I’ll share with you the biggest and in some ways most surprising lesson I’ve learned from these trips: Our outdoor adventures have been the best times we’ve had together as a family—but not only because of the places and experiences themselves. The main reason is that these trips have given us innumerable days with only each other and nature for entertainment—no electronic devices or other distractions that construct virtual walls within families in everyday life. These times have brought us closer together. Continue reading →

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