A Mission Accomplished: 419 National Parks Stops in One Journey

A son honors his father with the ultimate road trip
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2019 1:34 PM CDT
A Mission Accomplished: 419 National Parks in One Journey
Mikah Meyer walks along the beach at Padre Island National Seashore in Padre Island, Texas, in March.   (Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)

Mikah Meyer took many road trips with his father, the two bonding along the way. After his father's funeral when Meyer was 19, he set out on his first solo trip to grieve. He then began planning and saving up for his ultimate road trip in honor of his father—visiting every site administered by the National Park Service on one, long drive. Three years to the minute, 75,000 miles, and 419 stops later, he's home, CNN reports. Along the way, Meyer listened to stories from friends and colleagues about his father, who was a Lutheran minister. Some of them some invited Meyer to sing at their churches when he passed through. Contributions from those churches helped keep Meyer on the road. "This trip has been a ministry in many ways," he says.

His accommodations were less than luxurious. He slept on a bed in his van, which did have a solar-powered refrigerator. It was "not nearly as glamorous as what you see on social media," Meyer says. Much of his time was spent working out logistics, catching free WiFi at libraries and fast-food places. But the biggest problem was loneliness. Being away from family and friends for so long, Meyer says, was "very difficult on the psyche." He did more than just stop at the parks: He went on tours, camped, and went rafting, hiking or snorkeling. Meyer also wrote about each park, per CNN, and plans to compile a ranking. His goal became harder to reach while he was on the road; during those three years, the number of national parks units grew from 400 to 419. So he added those stops. Meyer figures his dad would be proud. (Read more national parks stories.)

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