417 National Park Service sites in one really long road trip? One man is doing it


Mikah Meyer was set to travel through Boise recently, one-third of the way through his three-year odyssey to visit every National Park Service site in the country. 

He was 30 years old when he started 13 months ago — an age he figured was perfect to do something so ambitious.  

“It was my last moment where society would excuse me for doing something crazy,” Meyer said. “In your 20s, everyone thinks you’re still figuring it out and they are a lot more gracious. Once you hit 30, it’s, ‘OK, you need to have your whole life figured out now.’ ” Plus, the road trip is a way for Meyer to honor and connect with his late father. His dad died at 58 when Meyer was 19.  

“At age 29, my dad had lived half his life and hadn’t known it,” Meyer said. “ … He never made it to retirement.” Meyer, who grew up in Nebraska and was living in the Washington, D.C., area when he quit his jobs to travel the country, has incorporated Sunday church visits into his schedule. His dad was a pastor and Meyer was part of the professional choir at Washington National Cathedral, so he offers to speak about his travels and sing at the churches he visits.  

In return, he gets the comfort of spending his Sundays in the church community and often donations toward his trip.  

During a recent Q&A, part of his Meyer’s talk centered on his experience “growing up as a closeted pastor’s son in a state where I didn’t meet my first openly gay adult until I was 19 and moved away,” he said. His boyfriend has joined him for about 60 percent of the trip.  

“I found that this trip is a real opportunity, especially speaking at churches, to talk about growing up gay in the Christian church and how to make it more supportive and more welcoming to everyone,” Meyer said. “My goal is to have my own travel show — to be the first travel personality who is openly gay. So many people like myself grew up without a role model.” Meyer has visited more than 180 of the 417 National Park Service sites so far. He lives in a van, so he times his trips based on weather. He’s headed to the Pacific Northwest for the summer. He hit most of Idaho’s NPS sites in May, including Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve and City of Rocks National Reserve. He’s on his way to his last Idaho stop — Nez Perce National Historical Park, which is spread across Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  

He called Craters of the Moon and City of Rocks “amazing places.” “Because they’re not capital-N, capital-P national parks like Yellowstone or Arches, I think people overlook them,” he said. “A lot of this trip has been finding places like that that are less popular but really interesting.” Meyer’s goal is to become the youngest person to visit all of the NPS sites (follow his journey at tbcmikah.com). According to a Washington Post story on Meyer’s trip, 37 people had visited all of the NPS sites — with the youngest finishing at age 39.  

Meyer also is unusual in that he’s trying to hit all the sites in one trip rather than over a lifetime.  

He has gone on road trips annually since his father’s death. His dad enjoyed road trips and his sisters considered driving to college with their dad among their favorite memories, Meyer said.  

“For me, it’s a way to get that experience with him without him physically being here,” Meyer said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Arctic voyage finds global warming impact on ice, animals

VICTORIA STRAIT, Nunavut (AP) — The email arrived in mid-June, seeking to explode any notion that global warming might turn our Arctic expedition into a summer cruise.  "The most important piece of clothing to pack is good, sturdy and warm boots. There is going to be snow and ice on the deck of the icebreaker," it read. "Quality...
JetBlue expanding in Atlanta, but issue with gate space remains
JetBlue expanding in Atlanta, but issue with gate space remains

JetBlue Airways this week announced plans for three new routes from Atlanta next year, to go along with its current service to Boston. But the New York carrier says it has had problems getting the gate space it wants at Hartsfield-Jackson International, accusing the airport of “discriminatory” practices that have affected its flights. The...
Georgia Airbnb hosts to earn more than $250,000 during solar eclipse
Georgia Airbnb hosts to earn more than $250,000 during solar eclipse

In just a few days, people will be traveling across the state to witness the solar eclipse, and Airbnb is reaping the benefits.  The online hospitality service has raked in more than $258,000 in extra income for Georgia residents who are home sharing, according to a report recently released by the company. About 1,700 people have booked Georgia...
How will the eclipse affect Atlanta and north Georgia traffic?
How will the eclipse affect Atlanta and north Georgia traffic?

So you’re thinking about driving to north Georgia or elsewhere to catch a glimpse of the full solar eclipse? Or you’re wondering what effect it will have on Atlanta traffic? Here’s what you need to know. » RELATED: The ultimate guide to the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse this August  The eclipse: On the...
Nine airports that might make you extend a layover

Airports can sometimes feel like a necessary evil, what with the serpentine security lines, hours-long flight delays and mediocre pretzels. But there are quite a few airports out there that you wouldn't curse in the event of a delay. Some, in fact, that you may want to book a trip through just to see how great an airport can be. We're talking movie...
More Stories