With a little help from Make-A-Wish, Yosemite’s first honorary park ranger earns his keep and proves his strength

Like any real estate choice, camping is all about location, location, location. Camping on a portaledge—a deployable, hanging-tent system—gives rock climbers locations worth bragging about: unimpeded views, no noisy neighbors, and everything from egress to big-wall climbs. In the U.S., there’s no better place for a suspension sleeping system than…

Yosemite National Park offers arguably the most scenic hiking in the country. The only challenge? Picking which trail to hike.

If you could put together a list of five must-do national park experiences in the United States, what would they be? ScottGambier, OH

Love Acadia, the Tetons, and the Grand Canyon? Wait until you meet their crazy little cousins.

From fresh, tropical milkshakes to buffalo steaks the size of your head, we dug up the best chow near America’s national parks.

I'm doing the John Muir Trail this summer and am trying to decide between a down sweater (like the Rab Microlight Alpine jacket) or a down vest (like the Western Mountaineering Flight Series vest). The vest is lighter, but I'm concerned about warmth.—NanaNew York, New York

Five of our favorite trips.

We polled the sharp-eyed nomads we trust most and came up with a bucket list of the best trips for getting the best shots around the world.

I would like to conquer Yosemite's Halfdome in September. How can I train for altitude climbing if I live near sea level? Paul Chesterfield, Michigan

2009 Travel Awards

Tommy Caldwell needed a challenge, so he decided to hoist his clanking gear rack and free-climb one of Yosemite's hardest routes—a punishing 5.14 called Magic Mushroom—in 24 hours or less. Matt Samet was there from start to finish to watch the planning, training, and performance of a superhuman athlete at the top of his game.

THE IDEA: Make one of the world's greatest Everest guides face his fear of heights. THE PLAN: Send him 3,000 feet up El Capitan with Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Ivo Ninov. THE RESULT: Panic attacks, cold sweats, and one order of Depends.

Video, podcast, and photo gallery

Our unscientific but highly authoritative guide to the 20 BEST PARTIES on the planet

The Classic Powder Skiing Once you experience Alta's powder, you too will be an Altaholic ALTA SKI AREA, Utah: Not only does Alta get twice as much snow as less blessed resorts—it averages 500 inches—but its flakes are also lighter and drier. Maybe that’s why nearly 80 percent of…

Colorado River guide Michael Ghiglieri publishes irresistible books about the weird, wicked things that kill people in national parks. With a bestselling Grand Canyon necrology behind him and a new one on Yosemite coming out this spring, he talks to KEVIN FEDARKO about accidents, suicides, and murders—and why forensic gawking can actually

Finding uncrowded bliss from Olympic to Acadia

There’s something sublime about a dip in a natural swimming hole, be it a lazy oxbow in a cool river, a hillside nook fed by a subterranean hot-spring, or a limestone bowl bored out by a 40-foot waterfall. “The swimming hole is the perfect outdoor experience,” says Pancho Doll, author…

Ten go-now getaways that are short on hassle but long on adventure—no passport required

Because every second you’re not living life to the fullest is an opportunity missed—and the clock is ticking. To get you going, we’ve handpicked a no-regrets, full-throttle, see-the-world list of 50 things to do before you die—from climbing an 8,000-meter peak to making the perfect martini. Pro surfer Kelly Slater…

There’s more than one way to take in the adventure and splendor of America’s national parks. So we’re serving up a prize package of SECRET TRIPS—locals’ no-tell favorites, from Acadia to Yellowstone to wildest Alaska—along with a roundup of DREAM TOWNS nearby, the places to eat, drink, and dance after…

Combine your next visit to a national park with a bonus raid on a great state park or national forest—and get twice the escape

WARNING: If you are pregnant, or have kids of any age, read on. This report contains information guaranteed to provide you with the premier places to rest you head. Then rip it in the great outdoors with your wee ones. Access and Resources 888-502-9612 www.cheatmountainclub.com Ten…

Still Breathtaking After All These Years

You could call it a youthful passion, but why mince words? What seized the author at age 19 was a fateful obsession with El Capitan.

A corps of rock rats in a hurry is putting the pedal to the mettle in big-wall climbing

The Pacific Rim's most explosive endurance sport combines speed, pain, and ancient tradition

Alaskan eccentric Trigger Twigg attempts the first winter ascent of the world's tallest face

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