Michael Lanza

Speaking Programs

"Through his amazing photos and vivid, funny stories about his adventure travels, Michael Lanza holds his audience's attention throughout his talks. But he goes one step beyond entertaining, sharing the insights and advice you can only get from someone with his vast depth of experience. As a father of two young girls, I found myself furiously scribbling notes on his tips about raising children to love the outdoors, as Michael has so successfully done with his own school-age kids. I highly recommend him to any organization."
—John Robison, Public Lands Director, Idaho Conservation League

“Michael Lanza is a skilled wordsmith and his finely fashioned handiwork is on full display in Before They’re Gone.”
—National Outdoor Book Awards

“Michael Lanza has so much to offer: his remarkable level of knowledge about the outdoors, his wealth of experience in adventure travel, impressive sensitivity, photography and writing that justify comparison with the very best. He has a message that is inspiring and profound, and presentations distinguished by humility, grace and humor. Michael is making a difference.”
—Max Phelps, Director of Marketing & Sales—Outdoor Industry, Globe Pequot Press, FalconGuides, The Lyons Press

“Michael Lanza’s presentation on exploring America’s national parks with his family was both thought-provoking and entertaining. The audience was captivated by his stories and photographs and came away with a real understanding of the threat posed by climate change to some of our country’s most iconic landmarks.”
—Susan Shelton, Director, Leominster (MA) Public Library

“Michael is full of fascinating personal stories about his travels. I admire his ability to engage an audience, his approachability, his passion and knowledge.”
—Shelli Johnson, life coach, consultant, speaker, writer, entrepreneur, and adventure guide, creator of HaveMediaWillTravel.com and

Michael Lanza is an award-winning author, outdoor writer and photographer, and runs the blog and website, The Big Outside. As a speaker, he delivers keynote addresses and leads workshops, employing a combination of compelling, humorous storytelling, deep knowledge of subject matter, and powerful photographs.

Michael is happy to customize the length and focus of any of his programs to a sponsoring organization’s needs, ranging from 20 to 90 minutes. Any of these programs is well suited to being followed by a small-group discussion, workshop, and/or Q&A session. He prices his program accordingly, and when possible, likes to make time for a book signing.

Contact Michael Lanza:

(208) 861-2064
 (Mountain Time)

“The first thought I had after Michael Lanza finished his inspiring and entertaining talk about raising kids to love the outdoors: I wish Michael was my second dad! The places he has explored with his family are amazing and the stories that match his beautiful photos are touching. His keynote at our 2014 Oregon Wilderness Conference was made all the more meaningful by the fact that it is clear that Michael cares deeply about the future of wild places and the people that must care for those places.”
Sean Stevens, Executive Director, Oregon Wild

Michael Lanza’s Programs

Before They’re Gone—Family Adventures,
National Parks, and Climate Change

Based on Michael’s award-winning book, Before They're Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, in this talk he shares anecdotes and stunning photos from his wilderness adventures with his wife, nine-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter in 11 national parks that face threats from climate change. Within a year, the family went sea kayaking and wilderness camping in Alaska's Glacier Bay, hiking to Yosemite Valley’s world-famous waterfalls, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone, paddling and camping on a remote island in the Everglades, rock climbing in Joshua Tree, and backpacking Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain national parks.

Between tales about the family’s adventures, Michael describes, based on his thorough research for his book, how climate change is irreversibly changing our national parks—and how different these revered places will be by the time his children are his age. He also suggests specific actions concerned citizens can personally take to address this crucial issue. This inspiring and information-packed program is ideal for audiences at national park outreach events and conferences, climate change conferences, and events with sponsors as diverse as university departments and environmental groups. (See video at left.)

“Michael Lanza’s presentation at the 2012 Wind River Writers Conference was everything it should have been: informative, captivating, and relevant to everyone in the room. As a long-time contributing editor to Backpacker Magazine, I have had the privilege of getting to know him personally. He brings to every effort—his award-winning writing, his sought-after presentations, his lasting friendships—energy, expertise, and a gentleness of spirit that can only be experienced to be truly appreciated.”

—Buck Tilton, Director, Wind River Writers Conference

10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

Michael and his wife, Penny, took their children on their first hike by the time each was three days old. Now 14 and 12, their son and daughter are experienced backpackers, rock climbers, cross-country skiers, and river rats. In this engaging talk and slide show, he tells stories about their family adventures and uses personal experience to illustrate and elaborate on his 10 concrete, insightful tips on how to raise children to love the outdoors—like “Give away your baby stroller,” “Tear up your agenda,” “Talk and listen,” and, of course, “Employ bribery strategically.”

Michael delivers a primary takeaway message: Create experiences that make children eager to go out again the next time. Then he lays out how to do that. Whether listeners are planning a summer camp program, helping a school district fight the childhood obesity epidemic, or trying to raise the next Edmund Hillary, Michael's insights and advice will provide key guideposts on the path to getting kids active outdoors. See Michael’s related blog post, “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids.”

Adventures in America's National Parks

Over more than 20 years as an outdoor writer and photographer, Michael has hiked, backpacked, climbed, backcountry skied, and paddled in numerous U.S. national parks, from Alaska to Florida, including multiple trips in our most cherished parks: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Zion, Glacier, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Bryce, Everglades, Capitol Reef, North Cascades, Glacier Bay, and others.

In a presentation filled with inspirational photos, Michael shares stories and advice on visiting these places that could only come from someone intimately familiar with them. Michael will customize this program to suit's a host organization's interests and time needs. It is ideal for virtually any group with an interest in enjoying America's national parks.

Taking Kids Into the Wilderness

In this entertaining and informative talk and slide show, Michael shares anecdotes from his family’s many adventures—including backpacking in world-class destinations like the Grand Canyon, among grizzly bears in Glacier National Park, and along the wild Olympic coast, sea kayaking Alaska’s Glacier Bay, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone, paddling the Everglades, floating the Green River, and their regular family trips rock climbing Idaho’s City of Rocks and cross-country skiing to a backcountry yurt. Besides sharing many stories, he talks about the critical importance of getting today's kids outdoors moreand how to get them to want to go outside.

Can your family do this? Michael’s answer is yes—with the right preparation. Focused on the joys and funny moments in these family experiences and how to plan and pull them off safely with any group of mixed ages and abilities, this program can be targeted to audiences such as managers and staff of programs aimed at getting families outdoors, and outdoor-recreation and conservation professionals, organizations, and clubs. See Michael’s related blog post, “My Top 10 Family Adventures.”

Outdoor Writing and Photography

In 20 years as a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, including a decade and running as a field editor for Backpacker Magazine, Michael has hiked, backpacked, and climbed mountains in numerous U.S. national parks and wilderness areas and written about his adventures all over the world, from the Alps to Iceland and Patagonia, Nepal to Norway and New Zealand. In this talk and slide show, he shares stories and images from his travels, including many at the extreme edge of hiking, such as a 44-mile, 11,000-vertical-foot dayhike across the Grand Canyon and back in 17 hours, and a seven-day, ultralight thru-hike of the John Muir Trail through the High Sierra, averaging 31 miles a day.

This program is full of Michael’s practical tips on outdoor photography and writing, and he encourages a Q&A format flowing naturally from this presentation. It can be targeted to outdoor-recreation and photography clubs, park and recreation liaisons promoting their department's facilities, aspiring and working professional outdoor-adventure scribes, or enthusiasts creating family trip blogs. See Michael's photo portfolio at this site's Photos page and his blog post, “My Top 10 Adventure Trips.”
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