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Inspiration for your 2013 Family Vacation

Michael Lanza is the author of Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks. He is a veteran freelance outdoors writer and photographer. He is the northwest editor of Backpacker magazine, where his articles about the impacts of climate change on Montana's Glacier National Park and other wild lands helped Backpacker win a National Magazine Award. He runs the website TheBigOutside, where this post originally appeared. 

Today's post might provide a little inspiration for your 2013 vacation, much as editor Alexis Rizzuto received for her outdoor adventures

0119At this time of year, I start pulling out maps and guidebooks and poring over my lengthy—and always growing—list of outdoor trips I want to take. (My document slugged “Trip Ideas” is now 11,855 words long.) There are two reasons: First, to make those big dream trips happen, you have to think, plan, and dream months in advance. Plus, the planning is almost as much fun as taking the trip.

Here are my 10 favorite family adventures at The Big Outside (another list that will keep growing and evolving), to help give you some ideas and inspiration for 2013. All have a story and photo gallery, and most also have a video. In a couple of weeks, I’ll share my list of 10 all-time favorite adventures at The Big Outside, domestic and international, that are not necessarily for families—although there are definitely trips that could be on either list (and there’s no overlap between the two lists).

Here’s wishing you an adventurous 2013.


Zoroaster Temple, Tonto Trail, Grand Canyon

Campsite below Zoroaster Temple, along the Tonto Trail in the Grand Canyon.

1. Dropping Into the Grand Canyon: A Four-Day Hike From Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail



Everglades, East River, mangrove tunnels

Kayaking the mangrove tunnels on the East River.

2. Like No Other Place: Paddling the Everglades



Biscuit Basin Trail, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Skiing the Biscuit Basin Trail through the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone.

3. Cross-Country Skiing Yellowstone



Strawberry Point, Southern Olympic Coast, Olympic National Park, Washington

Backpacking near Strawberry Point on Washington’s Southern Olympic Coast.

4. The Wildest Shore: Backpacking the Southern Olympic Coast



John Muir Trail, Half Dome, Liberty Cap, Nevada Fall

View from the John Muir Trail of Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and Nevada Fall.

5. The Magic of Hiking to Yosemite’s Waterfalls



Green River, Stillwater Canyon, Utah, Canyonlands National Park

Floating the Green River through Stillwater Canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.

6. Still Waters Run Deep: Tackling America’s Best Multi-Day Float Trip on the Green River



Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Hiking the Gunsight Pass Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana.

7. Jagged Peaks, Mountain Lakes, and Wild Goats: A 3-Day Hike on Glacier’s Gunsight Pass Trail



West Rim Trail, Zion National Park, Utah.

Backpacking the West Rim Trail in Zion National Park, Utah.

8. Pilgrimage Across Zion: Traversing a Land of Otherworldly Scenery



Spring Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

In Spring Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

9. Plunging Into Solitude: Dayhiking, Slot Canyoneering, and Backpacking in Capitol Reef



Banner Ridge yurt, Idaho, Boise National Forest.

The Banner Ridge yurt in Idaho’s Boise National Forest.

10. Snowstorms, Skinny Skis, Yurts, and a Family Tradition