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An Ode to Public Lands

The upshot of only traveling domestically for the past year? We’ve gotten to know our 615 million acres of federal public lands better than ever. And with new parks and designations on the horizon, there will be even more ways to get off the beaten path for adventure.

Why We Love Them

Our country’s open spaces are a sanity-saving antidote for this writer

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John Muir rhapsodizing about Yosemite is one thing, but Ian Frazier has had it with people calling their favorite outdoor spots “cathedrals,” “shrines,” and “sacred spaces.” The false piety detracts from the real task at hand: seeing these places as they actually are.

Fed up with tight National Park regulations—no BASE-jumping, no slacklining, no fun!—adventurers are getting cozy with a surprising new advocate: the Bureau of Land Management. Nowhere are the agency's lenient recreation policies on better display than Moab, Utah.

Wells Tower

In which Wells Tower braves the rain, smog, and peak-weekend hordes of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to give his three-month-old son a first taste of nature’s sweetness

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There's a bounty of other amazing sights in the park system—beyond the national parks

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Both the world-weary and stoked-on-life congregate at these wild outposts—all seeking the same euphoric joy, communality, and escapism

Each year millions of visitors flock to the Grand Canyon to witness its magnitude and sheer awe-inspiring size. However, there's a phenomenon that few people get to experience that's called "cloud inversion".

How to Do Them Right

Sponsor Content: TOYO TIRES

From the right tires for the terrain to proper trail etiquette, here’s everything you need to know

We asked the experts—and this is the one trail you can't miss in each of the 61 U.S. national parks

Neil Norman

Despite being one of the most popular destinations in the U.S., the Smokies make it easy to plan a last-minute trip and avoid crowds year-round. Here’s our definitive guide on what to know before you go, how to make the most of all the park has to offer, and can’t-miss experiences in every season.

Erin Riley

Whether you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime splurge or a cozy canvas tent minutes from Lake Powell, there’s something for everyone at these newly opened stays

This 76,000-acre wonderland is less a park and more a sandstone sculpture garden of sunset-hued arches and domes that look like they were carved by some alien magic. Here’s how to outsmart the crowds.

There's no better way to celebrate these holidays than by exploring our public lands

Skip the crowds at the national parks and head to these amazing monuments instead

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A visit to this northwestern Wyoming park, which is as thrilling for wildlife watchers as it is for climbers, hikers, and backcountry skiers, comes with a warning: it’ll be the beginning of a lifelong love affair

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Sleep in a Navajo Nation earth home, a vintage camper, or a dome tent, all just a short drive to the South Rim

A national park conservation advocate shares his advice on how to avoid crowds, get off the beaten path, see wildlife, and find adventure

Think you already know everything about our nation’s most iconic park? Think again. There’s so much beyond its famed Yosemite Valley, from seldom visited waterfalls to the underappreciated backcountry beyond Tuolumne Meadows.

From a glass-domed train to downhill skiing, these are some of our favorite adventures in our national parks. Bonus: they get you off the beaten path, too.

This Maine destination is a place of rugged coastal wonders and an immersion in Down East culture

Your bucket list should go beyond national parks. This decision tree will help you find lesser known locations with half the crowds.

The Future of Public Lands

From Colorado’s second-largest state park to a midwestern tribal park, there are plenty of new wild spaces to plan to visit. Plus, Outside staffers share what they think our 64th national park should be.

Forget visiting the app store every time you visit a national park. This new, free release provides all kinds of maps, must-hike trails, food recommendations, and more for all of its 423 units.

Permits, education, and increased fees are all on the table as possible solutions

As the U.S. battles over the fate of public lands, the Chilean government and Kristine Tompkins are doing something extraordinary down in Patagonia—setting aside millions of acres for stunning new national parks. And they aren't done yet.

Anticipating even bigger crowds this summer than last, public-lands officials have been grappling with how to manage the masses. For many, that’s meant introducing permit systems. But is limiting access the only solution?

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More than 50 national parks host visual artists every year. These three artists used their residencies to draw attention to climate change, species loss, and pollution.

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As red-rock meccas like Moab, Zion, and Arches become overrun with visitors, our writer wonders if Utah's celebrated Mighty Five ad campaign worked too well—and who gets to decide when a destination is "at capacity."