Lonely Planet Writer

Mikah follows his dream of visiting all 417 National Parks in the US in memory of his late dad

Embarking on an epic three-year road trip, Mikah Meyer’s dream of visiting all 417 national park sites in the United States is coming to fruition. Once completed, his journey will simultaneously break the record for the youngest person to see all the national parks and the first person to have done it in a continuous trip.

In Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
In Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Image by Mikah Meyer

Meyer’s expedition began as a way of honoring his late father who passed away from cancer when Mikah was just 19. ‘“After years of annual road trips through my 20s, I wanted to do something to share with my generation the lesson I’d learned from my dad’s passing: tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so we need make today everything we want it to be,” he said.

Projected map for the trip.
Projected map for the trip. Image by Mikah Meyer

“So I made it a goal that when I turned 30 I’d share this lesson with the world in a less-hard way than I had to learn it. Following my dream of visiting all the national parks seemed a good way to do that.” Traveling by van, Meyer is devoting three years to driving from site to site, preceded by two years of planning, researching, coming up with routes, consulting park rangers and the National Park Service, and pitching to sponsors.

The journey so far - 15 months in.
The journey so far – 15 months in. Image by Mikah Meyer

“It took me nearly eight months before I felt I’d really fine-tuned living and working out of a self-converted cargo van. It was nine months before I got my first sponsors (Passport To Your National Parks and Pilot Flying J). And even 15 months in, I’m still learning how to manage sharing the parks, fundraising, and personal sanity while pulling off a project that even I admit is “crazy,” Meyer said.

Mikah and “Vanny McVanface” in White Sands National Monument.
Mikah and “Vanny McVanface” in White Sands National Monument. Image by Mikah Meyer

However, the reward for Meyer is well worth it. He says that road-tripping enables him to travel full-time, as the cheapest and most convenient way to get around while also holding sentimental value as a tradition that his father cherished. “All that being said, getting to experience the national parks is the reward for all the hard work and planning. I knew I didn’t have the career track to afford the time and money to check off this bucket list, but by doing this “Travel Beyond Convention” as I call it and my blog, I’m realizing a life dream that I once never thought possible,” Meyer said.

Catching sunset over Buck Island Reef National Monument.
Catching sunset over Buck Island Reef National Monument. Image by Mikah Meyer

He emphasizes that it is well worth it to explore, not only the major national parks, but all 417 sites managed by the National Park Service as well. These sites range from historic houses to national seashores and monuments. Out of all the sites he’s visited, some of his favorites include Dinosaur National Monument, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Big Bend National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.

Mikah in front of Fairyland Canyon in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Mikah in front of Fairyland Canyon in Bryce Canyon National Park. Image by Mikah Meyer

While honoring his dad and accomplishing a major lifelong goal, Meyer is also using his journey and platform to advocate for a more expansive LGBTQ presence in the outdoors community and encourage young people to explore America’s national park sites. Follow Mikah Meyer’s journey at here including blogs, maps, and preferred way to see the entirety of America’s national parks.