My 10 Most-Read Adventure Stories
By Michael Lanza
Like anyone who runs a blog and website, I keep track of which stories generate the most interest among my readers—including which destinations and outdoor adventures they most want to read about. And I know that you, my readers, may be curious to know what other visitors to The Big Outside are reading. Using my blog’s current analytics data, I produced this top 10 list of the most-read stories about trips I’ve taken, from national parks like Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Canyonlands (twice) to the Teton Crest Trail, Idaho’s Sawtooths, Patagonia, Italy’s Dolomites, and more.
I think it’s a pretty darn good list of adventures. Read on and see for yourself.
By halfway through this six-day, 40-mile, family backpacking trip, I was convinced it was one of the most photogenic trips I’ve ever taken: Two of our five campsites are among my top 25 favorite backcountry campsites ever, and a lake where we had lunch one day made my list of the nicest backcountry campsites I’ve hiked past. Yes, you could say that about other hikes in the High Sierra, but many readers apparently agree with me that this loop in Sequoia is pretty special. You be the judge. See my story “Heavy Lifting: Backpacking Sequoia National Park.”
The very first river trip my family ever took, floating five days down the Green River through Stillwater Canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park with four other families, when our kids were six and four, has been referred to since then simply as “The River Trip.” In a real sense, this beginner-friendly and stunningly scenic adventure is a kind of archetypal water adventure, with great riverside campsites, beautiful side hikes, and non-stop views on the water of soaring, burgundy canyon walls.
Eons of erosion have created the soaring, multi-hued towers and cliffs of The Needles District of Canyonlands and more than 2,000 catalogued arches in Arches National Park, making both places immensely popular—for good reasons. The Needles District’s trail network and backcountry campsites make it the district of Canyonlands that’s most conducive to backpacking, and sleeping under southern Utah’s uniquely dark, star-riddled skies more than justifies the effort of carrying camping gear and extra water out there. But many of the best features of both parks can be seen on short to moderate-length dayhikes, making them very friendly to young families and occasional hikers. See my story “No Straight Lines: Backpacking and Hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.”
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What hiker or backpacker doesn’t list Glacier among their favorite places? If this park isn’t on your to-do list, it belongs there. Interestingly, of all of my posts about Glacier at The Big Outside, the story read the most is about my favorite, long dayhikes there: “5 Perfect (Big) Days in Glacier National Park.” See also my story about a 90-mile trek there, “Descending the Food Chain: Backpacking Glacier National Park’s Northern Loop”, and my story about a family trip, “Jagged Peaks, Mountain Lakes, and Wild Goats: A 3-Day Hike on Glacier’s Gunsight Pass Trail.”
#6 Unknown Patagonia: Trekking the Dientes Circuit
One of the world’s most iconic trekking destinations, Patagonia has become a land of myth and legend—which can sometimes spoil a place, or diminish the experience when the reality doesn’t live up to the hype. Not a problem with the Dientes Circuit. This backpacking trip through craggy peaks on Navarino Island—near the southern tip of South America, closer to Antarctica than to any major city—the Dientes Circuit feels like the ends of the Earth, with its knock-you-over winds, consistently wet weather, isolated mountain lakes, and rare solitude.
See my story about my trek on the very remote Dientes Circuit, as well as my feature story about trekking “the W” route in one of the classic destinations in Patagonia, Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, a trip that has also graced this list.
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Step for step one of America’s greatest backpacking trips—and a destination that generates possibly the most reader questions I receive (see all of my Ask Me posts about Grand Teton National Park)—the Teton Crest Trail has ranked consistently among the most-read topics at The Big Outside since I posted my story “American Classic: The Teton Crest Trail” when I first launched this blog in June 2010. See also my story about a family backpacking trip on the TCT, and all of my posts about that wonderful trail.
Get the right pack for you. See my “Gear Review: The 10 Best Packs For Backpacking”
and my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack.”
Without question one of the great hikes in the country if not the world—and one of my top 10 adventures ever—a rim to rim traverse of the Grand Canyon is a journey through one of the planet’s most spectacular and unique natural wonders. Three friends and I made a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike—across and back, over 44 miles and 11,000 vertical feet—in a day. Many more people backpack it in one direction over three days. However you want to hike it, start with my story, “A Grand Ambition or April Fools? Dayhiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim.”
But any multi-day hike into The Big Ditch is a trip of a lifetime. See another comparably popular story about my family’s backpacking trip from Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail, and all of my stories about Grand Canyon National Park (see a menu of them all by scrolling down to Grand Canyon at my All National Parks Trips page).
Hike all of my “10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest.”
Backpackers from outside of Idaho are discovering the glorious Sawtooth Mountains—and yet, they remain largely uncrowded because they lie far from any major population centers (Boise isn’t very big) and don’t have the fame of a national park. My story “Going After Goals: Backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains” tells the story of a trip into one of the most remote areas of the Sawtooths, an area studded with gorgeous mountain lakes.
Actually, two stories about the Sawtooths rank equally high on this list. My response to a reader question in an Ask Me blog post, describing my favorite dayhikes and backpacking trips in the Sawtooths, gets found by a lot of people searching online for information about the mountain range in my home state that I’ve come to know well. If you have not yet hiked through these sharply serrated peaks, they deserve a higher priority on your to-do list. See all of my stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including “Jewels of the Sawtooths: Backpacking to Alice, Hell Roaring, and Imogene Lakes.”
“The world’s most beautiful trail”—that’s a bold claim, isn’t it? But that phrase has been attached many times to the Alta Via 2 (and the easier and more-popular Alta Via 1), a roughly 112-mile (180k) alpine footpath through Italy’s Dolomites, where the scenery at least puts it in legitimate contention for the title. It also has comfortable mountain huts with excellent food and a reputation for being the most remote and difficult of the several multi-day alte vie (plural for alta via), or “high paths,” that crisscross the Dolomites. Read about my family’s weeklong trek on a 39-mile (62k) section of the Alta Via 2.
See all of my stories about international adventures at The Big Outside.
The most-read story currently at my blog is no surprise; in fact, it ranks high on this list just about every month. “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites,” a story I update every spring, shares a photo and short anecdote from the most spectacular spots in the wilderness where I have ever spent a night—including the one above, from Sahale Glacier Camp in North Cascades National Park, which provided the original inspiration for me to write this story. If you’re out hunting for the best wilderness campsites, you may also want to check out my photo gallery of the nicest backcountry campsites I’ve hiked past.
Lastly, my All Trips page consistently ranks top 10 among the most-clicked links at The Big Outside. See also these lists of top adventures:
And if you’re a backpacker, you owe it to yourself to read my very popular tips on lightening your pack weight.
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