Zion Narrows

Trekkers on the Alta Via 2 in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.

My 30 Most Scenic Days of Hiking Ever

By Michael Lanza

We can all remember specific places that we consider the best days of hiking we’ve ever had. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate: I have hiked many trails in America and around the world that would probably make anyone’s list of most-scenic hikes. From numerous trips in iconic national parks like Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Glacier to the John Muir Trail and Teton Crest Trail and some of the world’s great treks, including the Alta Via 2 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (lead photo, above), the Tour du Mont Blanc, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail, and the icy and jagged mountains of Norway and Patagonia, here’s a list of the 30 hands-down prettiest days I’ve ever spent walking dirt and rock footpaths.

I think you’ll find some places in here to add to your must-do list.

Read on

A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I’ve gotten pickier about my backpacking and other backcountry adventures. The best-known trails, peaks, and wilderness waters are usually beautiful; but sometimes, for various reasons, they don’t always do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It certainly begins with exceptional natural beauty, but often also requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical and other challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

The 10 places shown in the photos below are exactly that: still wild.

Read on

A hiker on the Observation Point Trail in Zion National Park.

12 Photos From 2018 That Will Inspire You to Get Outdoors

By Michael Lanza

What adventures did you take in 2018 that inspired you? I hope you enjoyed at least a few. I did. The 12 photos in this story are favorite images from some of the trips I took over the past year. They included hiking in Zion (twice) and Bryce Canyon national parks; backpacking off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in spring and returning in fall to dayhike the canyon rim to rim to rim over two magnificent days; rock climbing in Yosemite; backpacking and scrambling peaks in Idaho’s Sawtooths; and putting an exclamation point on the year with a 90-mile traverse of Glacier National Park on the Continental Divide Trail.

Scroll through these photos, each of which is accompanied by a short anecdote from the trip and links to existing stories at The Big Outside. I hope they help inspire you to start planning your adventures for 2019. After all, these are the experiences that give meaning to our lives.

Read on

A hiker on the West Rim Trail in Zion National Park.

Ask Me: The Best Backpacking Trip in Zion National Park

Michael,

Say you have one last trip to Zion: a 3- to 4-night backpacking trip with a group of men in average condition anywhere in the park.

What trails do you have to see one more time? (Insert any insider details here.)

What month do you go?

You’ve sparked something in myself and a friend to see that place. I know permits are crucial, we’re already planning. I’ve read your articles that mostly include all members of the family (which I respect). Does the itinerary change when it’s just guys?

Thanks so much,

Steven
Longview, Texas

Read on

Campsite at Precipice Lake, Sequoia National Park.

Photo Gallery: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

By Michael Lanza

Everyone has favorite campsites from unforgettable backcountry trips. I’ve been fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great campsites over nearly three decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. This photo gallery spotlights several camps from my list of 25 all-time favorite campsites, which I update regularly. Among them are jaw-dropping spots like Death Canyon Shelf along the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park, The Narrows in Zion National Park, Camp Schurman on Mount Rainier, Johns Hopkins Inlet in Alaska’s Glacier Bay, a couple of unbelievable spots in the Grand Canyon, and Precipice Lake in Sequoia National Park (photo above).

Read on