By Michael Lanza

As a parent of two college-age young adults who’s taken them outdoors since before they can remember, I’ll share with you the biggest and in some ways most surprising lesson I’ve learned from these trips: Our outdoor adventures have been the best times we’ve had together as a family—and not just because the places are so special. The greatest benefit of these trips is that they have given us innumerable days with only each other and nature for entertainment—no electronic devices or other distractions that construct virtual walls within families in everyday life.

For my family, our experiences together outdoors make up most of our richest and favorite memories. They have brought us closer together.

That’s a gift we’ve given ourselves as a family, one that I’ve cherished every minute of (well, most of the minutes, anyway). I also know our kids will appreciate it more and more as they get older—and I’m confident they will pass this gift on to their own children.

No matter where you go or what you do with your kids, you can reap that reward. But if you want to share with your family the very best experiences and places in nature, well, I have a pretty darn awesome list for you.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, from the brink of Lower Yellowstone Falls.
” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ width=”427″ height=”640″ src=”″ alt=”The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, from the brink of Lower Yellowstone Falls.” class=”wp-image-26044″ srcset=” 427w, 200w” sizes=”(max-width: 427px) 100vw, 427px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, from the brink of Lower Yellowstone Falls.

For this story, I’ve picked out the 10 very best adventures my family has taken and I’ve written about at The Big Outside—which also rank among the most beautiful and inspiring trips I’ve taken over the past three decades as an outdoors writer, including many years running this blog and previously as a field editor for Backpacker magazine.

This tick list includes seven national parks, three world-class paddling adventures, three trips that should be on every backpacker’s to-do list, America’s most scenic and fascinating volcano hike, and cross-country skiing or hiking among the greatest concentration of active geysers in the world.

Not surprisingly, all of these trips are extremely popular and require planning
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