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 »

  • Switchbacks Episode #5: Interview with Don & Shelly

    “Customarily, particularly in America, when you meet someone, the first question is ‘what do you do for a living?’ But people we would meet, we would say, ‘did you see this waterfall? What about that herd of bison, a few miles back?’ That’s what we were focused on. We could have a very long conversation… Read more »

  • So, what do you do?

    These days, it only takes five little words to make me straight-up panic. “So, what do you do?” I did not notice how often people ask this well-intended question two years ago when I had a simpler answer: “I’m a sixth grade teacher.” A teacher, respectable. A sixth grade teacher, easy conversation starter. Without saying much more,… Read more »

  • Switchbacks Episode #4: People of the Parks

    Even though they primarily feature very natural elements, the national parks would not be what they are without people. People advocate for the preservation of parks, people work to maintain these beautiful places, and people take time out of their lives to visit the parks. People.

  • Our National Park Hall of Fame

    I’m sitting here in my nice comfy bed in a house with electricity, having just eaten a dinner cooked in an oven and taken a long relaxing bath with soap and it’s hard to believe that just three months ago, Cole and I were living such a different life. For a year, we relaxed by lounging… Read more »

  • Switchbacks Episode #3: Are We Loving Our National Parks to Death?

    Episode #3, yo! We are settling into a nice routine with this whole podcasting thing now that we are 3 episodes deep. We are pretty basic with the music and editing, and we are doing it all ourselves, so of course there was a steep learning curve. BUT I think I’m getting better and better…. Read more »

  • Parks that Aren’t “Parks” – Part I

    Every time we talk to national parks people — rangers, travelers, and enthusiasts — we have to clarify that we visited all of the 59 “capitol-P” parks, not all of the 413 national park units. It’s necessary to be specific about these things, as certain people loved to remind us. It became an automatic disclosure we included… Read more »

  • Switchbacks Episode #2: There’s No Wrong Way to Visit a National Park

    There’s no wrong way to visit a national park. Do you agree with this? We certainly didn’t when we started our trip a year ago. We thought that the “right” way to visit the parks was to camp in a tent, hike a bunch of trails, and try to get off the beaten path as… Read more »

  • Silver Falls State Park: Double-digit waterfalls, single-digit miles

    Our mission to hit all 59 National Parks in one year didn’t leave much room to spare. But we made a few rare departures from our itinerary to visit some spectacular non-National Park spots (Niagara Falls, The Price is Right, Seward Sea Life Center, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, etc.). When we were up around Crater Lake… Read more »

  • Our Podcast is Live! (Episode #1: Our Top Ten National Parks)

    You guys! We started a podcast! It’s very exciting and new. And it only took about five hours to figure out how to submit our RSS feed to iTunes. But we are officially on the air. Our podcast is called Switchbacks and, as you might have guessed, it will cover our experiences, insights, and advice… Read more »

  • How We Pack for a Day of Hiking: The 10 Essentials

    *Elizabeth wrote this post months ago and we’ve never had a chance to finish and publish it until now. But don’t worry, these essentials are timeless! Cole and I are by no means expert hikers. Let’s just start there. We are constantly learning, trying new things, and making mistakes when it comes to packing for a… Read more »