White Cloud Mountains

Quiet Lake, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

By Michael Lanza

Picture a chain of peaks rising to over 11,000 feet, some composed of chalk-like rock that looks, from a distance, like snow. Scores of crystal-clear lakes above 9,000 feet ripple in the breeze and creeks run with trout and salmon. Mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, even gray wolves roam this wilderness. And backpackers find the kind of solitude you can’t find in many wild lands.

That’s the White Cloud Mountains of central Idaho. Put this relatively new American wilderness on your radar—and get there before every other backpacker discovers how gorgeous and quiet it still is, as you’ll see in the photos below from the backpacking trips and one long dayhike I’ve taken in the White Clouds, including to Quiet Lake, below the range’s highest peak, 11,815-foot Castle Peak (lead photo, above).

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Fishing at Lake 8522, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Boy Trip, Girl Trip: Why I Take Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures

By Michael Lanza

On a morning when the late-summer sunshine sharpens the incisor points of every peak and spire in the jagged skyline of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Nate and I step inside the Sawtooth National Recreation Area ranger station, south of the little town of Stanley, population sixty-three. I chat with the ranger behind the counter, mentioning that my son and I are heading out to backpack the 18-mile loop from Pettit Lake to Alice and Toxaway Lakes.

The ranger sizes up my six-year-old, 40-pound kid, and frowns skeptically. “You know, that’s a pretty rugged hike,” he tells me.

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Fishhook Creek, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

12 Simple Landscape Photography Tips For Better Outdoor Photos

By Michael Lanza Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. The following tips on outdoor and landscape photography, which I’ve learned from studying photography and …

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Fishing at Lake 8522, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures

By Michael Lanza

The annual tradition began when my son, Nate, was five years old, and we hiked about a mile up a trail in the Boise Foothills, starting at a trailhead a 10-minute drive from our house, and camped beside a creek small enough to step over. It was the most mellow trip we’d take, and the closest to home, on the annual father-son outdoor adventure that we’ve come to call our “boy trip.” My daughter, Alex, two years younger, adapted that name and gave me a pass for my inferior gender when we began taking an annual “girl trip” together. Now it has grown into something bigger than any one, individual outing.

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Quiet Lake in Idaho's White Cloud Mountains.

Photo Gallery: A Father-Son Backpacking Trip in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

By Michael Lanza

As we approached the rocky, 10,877-foot summit of Patterson Peak, we saw them from a distance, a couple of white specks moving slowly, but standing out against the gray rock and cliffs on that overcast day in early October. It was a pair of mountain goats, scrabbling over the loose, shifting talus. We tried to get a closer look, but even as they appeared to move effortlessly, they quickly expanded the gulf between us. Within minutes, they had disappeared into the cliffs and swirling clouds. But we had gotten another taste of the wild nature of Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains.

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