Tag Archives: Utah parks

February 20, 2017 Rafting Lodore Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument.

Why Conservation Matters: Rafting the Green River’s Gates of Lodore

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By Michael Lanza

The momentarily sedate current of the Green River pulls our flotilla of five rafts and two kayaks toward what looks like a geological impossibility: a gigantic cleft at least a thousand feet deep, where the river appears to have chopped a path right through the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah. Sheer, cracked cliffs of burgundy-brown rock frame the gap. Box elder, juniper, and a few cottonwoods grow on broad sand bars backed by tiered walls that seem to reach infinitely upward and backward, eclipsing broad swaths of blue sky. A great blue heron stalks fish by the riverbank. We notice movement on river left and glance over to see two bighorn sheep dash up a rocky canyon wall so steep that none of us can imagine even walking up it.

These are the Gates of Lodore, portal to a canyon as famous today for its scenery and wilderness character as it was infamous for the catastrophes suffered by its first explorers, who set out in wooden boats a century and a half ago to map the West’s greatest river system. Continue reading →

February 12, 2017 Angels Landing, Zion National Park

One Incomparable Place: Hiking and Backpacking in Zion National Park

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By Michael Lanza

Even in the Southwest, a region where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, Zion National Park stands out. Other places have natural arches, spires, and ancient cliff dwellings, but no place really matches Zion’s grandeur: cliffs up to 2,000 feet tall stretching for miles, the rock’s purity of white and deep burgundy, and patterns of striations rippling across a span of stone that dwarfs Man’s greatest buildings and monuments. Perhaps that’s why it was Utah’s first national park, designated in the same year, 1919, as Grand Canyon and Acadia. Continue reading →

January 31, 2017 Near Frying Pan Trail, Capitol Reef National Park.

Ask Me: What Are the Can’t Miss, Uncrowded Hikes in Capitol Reef?

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Hello Michael,

Just skimming some of your stuff on Capitol Reef National Park. My fiancee and I, along with her two girls (age 11 and 12), are planning a family trip to Capitol Reef. The girls are quite athletic. I’d love to take them on dayhikes to some of the less-traveled spots in and around the park. What would you regard as “don’t miss?” We may also bring ropes and harnesses. Thinking of the Stegosaur Canyon trip. Anything else like this with minor rappelling and ropework? I was thinking of calling your guide friend Steve Howe, as well.

Love your blog, Michael. Thanks in advance,

Jeff
Boise, ID Continue reading →

January 30, 2017 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

My Top 10 Favorite Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is a mandatory qualification. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All of my top 10 are in national parks or federal wilderness areas.

Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of humping a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and writing for this blog. Continue reading →

January 26, 2017 Peek-a-Boo Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Video: Utah’s Slot Canyons Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch

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By Michael Lanza

Send four kids age 10 to 12 through a tight, slot canyon where they have to pull themselves over short pour-offs, duck through natural arches, and twist and contort their bodies to squeeze between wildly curved walls that frequently narrow to just inches wide, and they hardly stop gushing about it. “Wow, this is so cool!” “That’s amazing!” “Awesome!” We heard a lot of that when my friend Justin Hayes and I hiked Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with our kids. Watch this video and you’ll see why. Continue reading →

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