Podcast Episode #35: National Parks for History Buffs, ft. Mesa Verde & Hot Springs

When most people picture a national park, what comes to mind usually fits into the “natural beauty” category of what is protected within the National Park System: mountains, shores, canyons, and giant trees. But there is another half of the NPS’s mission that is often overlooked: The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources… Read more »

Podcast Episode #34: Our Top Ten National Parks that Aren’t “Parks”

In the United States, national monuments, preserves, scenic rivers, battlefields, and historic sites come together to create a wide overview of what we deem important in our country. We call these important places “national parks,” and we protect them with the National Park Service. When Cole and I started planning our big national parks trip,… Read more »

BONUS POST: Amazon Prime Day!

Affiliate links included in this post. It’s Amazon Prime Day! I know we don’t usually promote buying into the idea that you have to have stuff, like right now, but a good deal is a good deal, and I thought we’d pass some on to you today. One of the biggest ways we are able to acquire… Read more »

Podcast Episode #33: Interview with Mikah Meyer, epic National Parks traveler

Whooaaaaaa. I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday and time for another episode of Switchbacks! 4th of July last week super messed with my understanding of time. Hope you all had a great short holiday week and were able to spend some time celebrating our country! Even though it’s hard sometimes to be proud of where… Read more »

Podcast Episode #32: Gateway Cities of the National Parks, ft. Acadia and Olympic

Of all 32 podcasts we have recorded so far, this might be one of the biggest. Why? Well, today we’re talking about Acadia National Park and Olympic National Park. We are on the record as naming these two in our Top 5 of the national parks. We loved Acadia and Olympic for their natural beauty,… Read more »

Podcast Episode #31: Big City Getaways in the National Parks, ft. North Cascades and Channel Islands

Last weekend, we got away from the city. It was wonderful. Even though St. Louis isn’t the biggest metropolis in the country, we often find the desire to get totally away. We drove down just two hours into the Ozark mountains, to the Ozark National Scenic Riverway, one of the NPS sites in Missouri that… Read more »

Unique Travel Opportunities with Voluntourism

Travel is a win. Volunteering is a win. Travel+Volunteering is a win+win.   “Voluntourism” a simple equation, but one I feel like too few people take advantage of. So I’m aiming to share my experiences and maybe help you brainstorm the broader possibilities for your next trip.   Over the past 11 years, I’ve taken… Read more »

Podcast Episode #30: BONUS Episode: Our Three-Week Southeast Asia Adventure

If you aren’t following us on Instagram, you may or may not know that we just came home from a dream three-week trip in Southeast Asia. I say dream trip because we have been working on this one for awhile. Since as far back as I have been traveling, I have wanted to visit this area… Read more »

VIDEO: The Perfect Great Lakes National Parks Road Trip

We’ve mentioned before that our trip to all 59 National Parks only lengthened our list of must-see spots around the U.S. The only National Parks in the Great Lakes region are Voyageurs in MN, Isle Royale in MI and Cuyahoga Valley near Cleveland. So we missed a lot of great spots. We decided before our… Read more »

Podcast Episode #29: Luxury in the National Parks, ft. Virgin Islands and Kenai Fjords

Cole and I speaking to luxury in the national parks is almost laughable, but stick with us. In our year on the road visiting all 59 national parks, we averaged about 4.5 days per park, most of that time out of cell service range. We lived out of our car and small backpacking tent, cooking… Read more »


    Congaree was unlike any National Park we’ve been to so far. As we drove through the outskirts of Columbia, SC, we were gradually enveloped by swampland. We turned into the Congaree entrance and the park’s famous towering trees casting flickering shadows immediately gave a feeling of serenity. Winding up the drive to the Visitors Center… Read more »

  • VIDEO: Congaree National Park

    When our friends and National Parks mentors Don and Shelly raved about Congaree National Park on their blog and in person (they even named it their favorite National Park!), we knew it would be one of those diamond-in-the-rough parks. Well, due to very unfortunate timing and good ole’ Mother Nature, we saw a lot more… Read more »


    “If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.” ~Bill Bryson I’m currently… Read more »

  • VIDEO: Great Smoky (and cloudy, and rainy) Mountains

    I have to be honest, when I look back at our 5-day visit to Great Smoky Mountains, one memory blocks out all the others. Clouds. Never-ending clouds dumping buckets and buckets of rain. I think we saw blue skies peek through twice. I would estimate it probably rained 40-50% of our total time there and… Read more »

  • How to Pack for a Backpacking Trip

    **A few of these links are to items we have received for free. All opinions are 100% our own** Going on a two- (or longer) day backpacking trip anytime soon? Sweet! Do it! Carrying all your stuff around is amazing and fulfilling and satisfying in so many ways. #notsarcastic Whether you’ve done this before or… Read more »

  • SHENANDOAH: 7 essentials for a National Park family vacation

      I was indoctrinated in the National Parks from a young age. Annual family vacations out west to visit family, join in 1840s era rendezvous and visit National Parks were a huge part of my childhood.   When we went on our most recent park family vacation (Grand Canyon in 2009), I doubt my parents… Read more »

  • VIDEO: Oh, Shenandoah!

    Coming off more than a week of visiting and meeting up with family and friends throughout the eastern side of the country is tough. We already miss the familiarity of traveling with people we know. We also already miss the indoor sleeping, often on amazing beds 🙂 After we visited Acadia National Park in Maine,… Read more »


    It’s hard to sit and put into words what we experienced at Acadia National Park last weekend. It was cold. Very cold. Like 45-and-windy-when-you’re-trying-to-hike-cold. But even so, the beauty at this Maine gem stares you in the face, through the cold and through the wind. So far on our year-long trip, we have been careful… Read more »

  • VIDEO: Acadia National Park

    Maine has always called to me. I think there’s something just fun about exploring to the very edge of something. In this case the something is our country.   We got the chance to explore the best of Maine in Acadia, New England’s only National Park. We were worried that this late into October and… Read more »


    Niagara Falls has changed a lot since it was first documented by westerners in 1678. It was bought up by private hands and harnessed for hydroelectric power. It became the country’s first and most popular state park as notable citizens like Frederick Law Olmsted push for its protection. And it attracted more and more tourists (presently an… Read more »