Wind River Range backpacking

A backpacker just north of Jackass Pass in the Cirque of the Towers. in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The Best Backpacking Trip in the Wind River Range? Yup

By Michael Lanza

As my friend Chip Roser and I reach Pyramid Lake, in a magnificent stone bowl at 10,571 feet in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, nestled below its namesake peak and the attention-grabbing, soaring face of the 12,000-footer Mount Hooker, the overcast grows increasingly darker. We both look up at the sky, probably sharing the same thought: wondering when the thunderstorms and strong winds the forecast had warned of would finally catch us out here; and hoping to stay dry at least until getting our tents up—and with luck, until after we’ve eaten dinner.

Read on

A backpacker on the Tonto Trail above the Colorado River, Grand Canyon.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza

What makes for a great backpacking trip? Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. While there’s definitely something inspirational about a big walk in the wild, some of the finest trips in the country can be done in a few days and half of the hikes on this list are under 50 miles. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

Read on

A backpacker below Jackass Pass, overlooking the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

On a cool early morning in August while backpacking the Wind River High Route a few summers ago, I hiked in the shadow of tall mountains to Jackass Pass at 10,790 feet—a spot I’ve stood on at least a few times before, overlooking the incomparable Cirque of the Towers in the Winds—and affirmed a truth about that patch of rocks and dirt: It still possessed the capacity to take my breath away and make my heart speed up a little bit (although the climb to the pass may have had something to do with that).

It was a comfort to see that the effect the Wind River Range has on me had not changed.

Read on

A backpacker hiking into Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.

Backpacking the Wind River Range—a Photo Gallery

By Michael Lanza

In late afternoon, near the end of a day of backpacking some 14 miles—mostly above 10,000 feet—two friends and I walked into Titcomb Basin, deep in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, mouths gaping open. Forming a horseshoe embracing this alpine valley at over 10,500 feet, mountains soared more than 3,000 feet above the windblown Titcomb Lakes, including the second-highest in the Winds, 13,745-foot Fremont Peak, on the Continental Divide.

But by that point on the first day of our 39-mile backpacking trip, my companions were fully smitten by the Winds—as I have been since my first trip there 30 years ago.

Read on

Backpackers hiking past a tarn off the Highline Trail (CDT) in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Backpacking Through a Lonely Corner of the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

Less than an hour into our five-day backpacking trip into the Wind River Range, we turn onto the Doubletop Mountain Trail and within minutes splash across the shallow New Fork River at a spot where it’s flowing just inches deep; I ford it with boots on, walking gingerly on my toes to—happily—keep my socks dry. On the other side, just before beginning a long climb out of this valley, we run into a couple coming down the trail and stop to chat.

Read on