Tag Archives: Zion Canyon

August 7, 2017 Hiking Half Dome's cable route, Yosemite National Park.

Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes

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By Michael Lanza

Imagine this: You’re heading out on a long, beautiful hike deep in the backcountry, but instead of a full backpack, you carry a light daypack. You’ve avoided hassles with getting a backcountry permit. There’s no camp to set up and pack up, because you’re not backpacking, you’re dayhiking. Yes, I love backpacking—living in the wilderness, getting into that mindset of not knowing or caring what day it is or what’s going on in civilization. And I do it a lot. But sometimes, I’d rather knock off a weekend-length—or longer—hike in one big day. Continue reading →

July 2, 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 creator of this blog. Continue reading →

June 25, 2017 Hiking The Subway in Zion National Park.

Great Hike: The Subway, Zion National Park

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By Michael Lanza

In the refrigerator-like shade at the bottom of a fissure hundreds of feet deep, somewhere in the labyrinth of sandstone canyons that dice up the backcountry of Zion National Park, our keyhole-shaped passageway narrowed to the width of a doorway. A shallow, ice-water creek pumped along the slot canyon’s floor, which dropped off before us about four feet into a pool extending some 30 feet across. We’d been informed the water temperature was around 51° F. And it looked deep.

We were going for a chilly swim. Continue reading →

May 29, 2017 Hiking over Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park.

My 25 Most Scenic Days of Hiking Ever

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By Michael Lanza

You’ve had days like this. Maybe it was a dayhike, or a single, exceptional day on a backpacking trip or hut trek—one so gorgeous and inspirational that it forges a lasting memory as one of the best experiences you’ve ever had in the backcountry. From iconic national parks like Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Glacier to some of the world’s great treks, like the Alta Via 2 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, and Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail, here’s a list of the 25 hands-down prettiest days I’ve ever spent walking dirt and rock footpaths. I think many of these places would make your top list, too. Continue reading →

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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Grand Canyon Hiker