National Parks Project: Great Smokies
Before this Southeast icon became America's most popular park, it was home to a hardworking community of settlers. Our five-day route hits little-known frontier ruins–revealing a human history that will surprise today's hikers–and plenty of smoky views. Plus: key skills, trail directions, and a 3D map. By Marcus Woolf
Interview with Ken Salazar
The new Interior Secretary is charged with implementing President Obama's vision for America's wilderness. Task #1: Explain his support for allowing guns in national parks. Salazar has also earmarked $50 million to get kids into the outdoors, and is pushing a new national park–in Delaware.
Are You Smarter Than a Boy Scout?
For generations, Scoutmasters have trained future outdoorsmen in wilderness skills. But times have changed. Do the troops still rule when it comes to core trail tests? A team of three average BACKPACKER readers face off with three Scouts to find out. Also, rate your outdoor IQ in our merit-badge quiz. By Jim Gorman
2009 Apparel Guide
Goal: Help you stay comfortable in any weather. Solution: Hike through two-week-long downpours and hurricane-force winds to bring you the best new rainshells, baselayers, and down jackets for every trip. Plus: Complete your system with grip-anything gloves, go-anywhere pants, and a versatile hat/balaclava/pillow. + Fast Fix: How to Maintain Technical Apparel
Jordan Romero just knocked off peak number five in his quest to bag the Seven Summits. Nothing remarkable about that...except he's in junior high. The alpine prodigy stood atop Denali at 11 and ascended Aconcagua in conditions so fierce that most adults climbing that day turned back. Now he's making plans for Everest in 2010. But is mountain climbing good for a growing kid? By Berne Broudy
Sheer terrain, monster trout, and rarely hiked trails make Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison the best national park you've never heard of. Go now and hear a revitalized river roar through steep-and-deep granite walls. Plus: Trek to 19 new trails that are off the radar–and on our map. By Bruce Barcott and Kelly Bastone
TOP 3 FAMILY DAYHIKES
Take the whole crew on these fun, kid-friendly treks: Climb a peak in Yellowstone, see waterfalls in Oregon, and spy loggerhead sea turtles on a Virginia beach.
Gators rule Louisiana's swamps. See them on these trips–plus Bryce Canyon's tallest hoodoo and Texas's flaming-red maples.
RIP & GO WEEKEND ADVENTURES
1. Print out this instant get-out guide.
2. Pack your gear.
3. Escape to the wilds of Idaho, New Mexico, or North Carolina.
THE PEAK: WINDOM
Take a historic train to the trailhead and climb this Colorado beauty, nestled deep in the Weminuche Wilderness.
THE MANUAL: SLOT CANYONS
Explore these redrock mysteries safely with expert tips on gear and technique.
How to Start a Fire With Fungus
How to Lead a Summit Hike
Beer–yes, beer–blueberries, and hazelnuts make these cakes the best in camp.
Recipe: Blueberry-Hazelnut Rice Flour Pancakes
Recipe: Beer Pancakes
How to Make Perfect Camp Pancakes
GEAR SCHOOL: LIQUID FUEL STOVES
Master one of these workhorse cookers, and you'll eat well in cold weather, on expeditions, and on farflung adventures.