Zion National Park

Backpackers on Trail 154 to Cramer Divide in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

How to Decide Where to Go Backpacking

By Michael Lanza

You can find abundant information online offering advice on how to plan a backpacking trip (including my 12 expert tips)—some of it good and some, frankly, not very thorough. But there’s little advice out there on how to choose where to go backpacking—and many backpackers fail to consider key aspects of trips that greatly affect their experience: They follow an essentially backward decision-making process. The tips below explain the thought process I follow that make my trips better and will do the same for you.

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Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking in Zion National Park

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.

As the photos below demonstrate, Zion harbors some of America’s best dayhiking and backpacking.

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Larch trees glowing with fall color, reflected in Rainbow Lake in the North Cascades National Park Complex.

10 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

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 …

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Hiking The Subway in Zion National Park.

Hiking The Subway in Zion National Park

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.

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A backpacker on the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park.

How to Get a Last-Minute, National Park Backcountry Permit

By Michael Lanza You really want to backpack in Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Teton, Zion, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, or another hugely popular national park this summer—but you didn’t apply to reserve a wilderness permit months ago? Well, you just may be in luck: Most parks have a system for getting a last-minute permit. It requires jumping through some hoops, understanding …

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