Tag Archives: Utah parks

May 8, 2017 Day two backpacking the Narrows, Zion National Park.

Luck of the Draw, Part 2: Backpacking Zion’s Narrows

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By Michael Lanza

We step into the ankle-deep North Fork of the Virgin River, in the backcountry of Zion National Park, and water at refrigerator temperature immediately fills our boots. Until sometime tomorrow afternoon, we’ll walk in this river almost constantly, crossing it dozens of times—with the 50° F water, at its deepest, coming up nearly to our waists. As we splash downstream, the canyon walls of golden, crimson, and cream-colored sandstone steadily creep inward and stretch higher, soon eclipsing the sun. We’ll see very little direct sunlight as the sheer walls of Zion’s Narrows eventually tower a thousand feet overhead and, at times, close in to the width of a hobbit’s living room. Continue reading →

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April 30, 2017 Rainbow at Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park.

Photo Gallery: The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventures

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Looking for an unforgettable adventure to take your family on? How about hiking a volcano, canoeing through one of the planet’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries, or rafting for six days down a classic wilderness whitewater river? How about backpacking a wild coastline or deep into the glaciated mountains of Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, or hiking to Yosemite’s world-famous waterfalls (lead photo, above)? How about diving into a place that awes people of any age—the Grand Canyon?

Continue reading →

April 23, 2017 Hamilton Lakes, High Sierra Trail, Sequoia National Park.

Photo Gallery: 15 Nicest Backcountry Campsites I’ve Hiked Past

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

It is one of those unfortunate inevitabilities of life, like death and taxes: Occasionally on backpacking trips you will hike past one of the most sublime patches of wilderness real estate you have ever laid eyes on, a spot so idyllic you can already see your tent pitched there and you standing outside it, warm mug in your hands, watching a glorious sunset. But it’s early and your plan entails hiking farther before you stop for the day—not camping there. Or you don’t have a permit for that site. Or even worse, you are looking for a campsite, but someone else has already occupied this little corner of Heaven. Continue reading →

April 17, 2017 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Gallery: Every National Park I’ve Visited

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

How many national parks have you visited? I’ve been to close to half of the 59, and although that includes numerous return trips to some major parks, I still have more work to do. Then again, you could hardly call seeing our national parks “work,” right? What writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called “the best idea we ever had” has grown from a handful of parks created in the early days to a system in many ways without parallel, that protects 52 million acres of mountain ranges, canyons, rivers, deserts, prairies, caves, islands, bays, fjords, badlands, natural arches, and seashores in 59 parks. Without that protection, these places that draw visitors from around the world would otherwise almost certainly have been exploited and destroyed. Continue reading →

April 11, 2017 The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park.

3-Minute Read: The Great Gallery Pictographs of Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands National Park

In Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Here’s how you reach the best prehistoric Indian rock art in America: From Utah Highway 24, a remote two-lane bisecting the inhospitable desert between the rugged spine of the San Rafael Reef and the deep and isolated canyons of the Green and Dirty Devil rivers, turn east onto a dirt road at a small, easily overlooked sign for Horseshoe Canyon. (Reference point: It’s a tenth of a mile south of the turnoff for Goblin Valley State Park.) Drive about an hour on that sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy road—which can become impassable in heavy rain or when wind piles sand drifts across the road, and where a few roadside signs are the only indicators of civilization—to the West Rim Trailhead.

Then hike down into Horseshoe Canyon and nearly three miles up canyon to a panel of rock art that will reduce even the most seasoned pictograph and petroglyph hunters to awed silence. Continue reading →

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