Seeing Them All Isn’t as Hard as You Think

All you need is some crowd-ditching, trail- and river-running, wonder-inducing intel

59 national parks. You can do it. (Andrew Peacock/Footloosefotograp)

Early last year, Darius P. Nabors and Trevor Kemp decided to embark on the best road trip ever: all 59 national parks in 59 weeks. The duo spent two months rigorously planning a route that would get them to each park during temperate weather. Then, in June 2015, they set out in a Dodge Ram (borrowed from Nabors’s parents) with tents, a pair of stoves, and a binder full of brochures. We caught up with them midtrip to get their most valuable crowd-ditching, trail- and river-running, wonder-inducing intel. 

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Go Off-Season

Nabors and Kemp saw the Grand Canyon during a 19-day rafting trip in November, after a friend won a coveted permit through the lottery system. “If you’re willing to be a little bit cold, it’s easier to get a permit for off-months,” says Nabors. 

Stay Fueled

“It’s all about calorie density,” Nabors says. A favorite camping staple: macaroni and cheese with tuna and Rotel canned tomatoes with green chile bits. For a mid-hike snack, the two like Spam and rice “wrapped in a nice little seaweed sandwich.”

Consult the Experts

“Call ahead and talk to a ranger on the telephone,” Nabors says. “Give them a sense of the things you like to do and want to see.” They can also be a source of unexpected beta. In Yosemite, a ranger advised them about what kind of weather to watch for in order to witness the park’s “firefall,” when the setting sun illuminates the water at Horsetail Falls. Nabors: “He told me exactly what I needed to know.”

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