One day we were on a hike talking about bucket lists. One thing that made the list was visiting all the 59 U.S. National Parks in our lifetime. Then somehow it evolved into the crazy idea of the visiting all those parks within one year. This year of full park immersion would be full of backpacking, trail cooking, kayaking, mountain biking, camping 6 nights a week and any other adventures that come our way. And finally we decided our best option was to take the most irresponsible and non-conventional step of our lives: press pause on our careers and take on the challenge and adventure of our lives. Carpe diem style.
We’re Cole and Elizabeth, 25, born and raised near St. Louis, Missouri. We both ended up going to the University of Missouri (Mizzou) where we met through a pickup game of ultimate frisbee. Elizabeth got a degree in education and Cole went with journalism and business. After college we moved to Kansas City, Missouri where Elizabeth got a job as a 6th grade Language Arts teacher in the Park Hill School District and Cole worked at a health care IT company called Cerner.
Elizabeth is the caring, passionate, creative mind. When she gets excited about something she takes it on by storm. Cole is the outgoing, responsible, methodical, achiever. He loves to take chances and try new things, but at the same time considers things from every angle. Fortunately, we balance each other out to make a pretty good team!
We got married July 2013 in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and moved into a townhouse together back in KC. We even got a huge fur ball of a cat named Dozer. Steady jobs, vibrant city, few obligations – it was the good life, it was the comfortable life… but sometimes it was the stuffy life. So now we’re ready to get some fresh air and take the most irresponsible, non-conventional leap of our lives. 59 national parks, one year of adventure!
Wondering why we are called the Switchback Kids? Read more here.
We don’t want this trip to just be a simple year-long vacation to fulfill our wanderlust. We are striving for something much bigger.
One main aspect of the trip is sharing our journey and park experiences with others through this blog and our social media. We want the story of two 26-year-olds who break from their 9-5 careers to spend a year traveling the country on a trip of their dreams to inspire others to pursue their own dreams and seek their own adventures.
We also want to do our part to celebrate America’s Best Idea, the National Parks, especially during the 100th anniversary year of the National Park Service. We hope our explorations of the 59 National Parks, and all other National Park Service sites we can hit along the way, will encourage others to join in the celebration and experience any of the amazing National Park sites all across the country.
Our epic National Parks tour will be dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation for the National Park sites among our generation – the Millennials. We feel so blessed that our families introduced us to the awesome outdoors during our early family vacations. It gave us a lasting love and appreciation for the natural beauty of America that has spurred us on to our own adventures.
A lot of times, our tech-saturated generation is guilty of overlooking the “classics” favor of the latest, flashiest trend. Instead of automatically thinking of weekends in Vegas, vacations in Cancun and backpacking trips through Europe, we want to help our peers realize the endless beauty and adventures waiting in the national park sites in their backyards.
We hope you will stay tuned and follow along, and even join in, as our story unfolds!
In August 2015 we left our jobs and our home to go on a tour of all 59 National Parks across the US during the NPS Centennial year. We spent a year immersing ourselves for about 5 days in each park as we tent camped, hiked, biked, backpacked, kayaked, and climbed our way through the challenge and adventure of our lifetime.
We are Cole and Elizabeth, twenty-something Missourians turned National Parks explorers - constantly seeking to find new adventure and ourselves. Follow our journey for pictures, videos, park tips, and stories - because after all, the Parks are for sharing.