Tag Archives: West Rim Trail

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 →

December 26, 2016 The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest.

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone remembers his or her first visit to the desert Southwest. The bizarre, vividly colored geology ignites wildfires of the imagination that burn permanent impressions. I recall staring at rock formations sculpted in ways I’d never observed before and thinking, “How can this be?” And you’ll find very worthy dayhikes and roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands. But leaving civilization for days to probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—opens invisible doors to experiences that amplify the feelings inspired by these mystical landscapes.

After a quarter-century of chasing the best backpacking trips in the Southwest, I’ve put together a list of what I submit are the top 10. Here they are. Continue reading →

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

My Top 10 Family Adventures

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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 →

November 7, 2016 The Subway, Zion National Park.

5 Great Adventures to Take in 2017

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By Michael Lanza

Where will you take a big outdoor adventure in 2017? This is the time of year when I like to start planning for next year, because if you lead a busy life, big trips don’t happen unless you get them on the calendar early. For two of the national park trips I describe below, Zion and Everglades, the prime season is around the corner; and for other destinations in this story—Sequoia and Olympic national parks and Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—you be wise to plan dates and the route and travel logistics in advance.
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September 12, 2016 Tonto Trail, Grand Canyon National Park.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of bugs, and fall foliage color. Autumn also stands out as an ideal season for many canyon hikes, with moderate temperatures and even some stunning color.

From Zion and Yosemite to the White Mountains, Grand Canyon, Mount Hood, and more, here are 10 of my favorite backpacking trips that are best served up in fall.
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