Elizabeth and Cole Donelson from Kansas City, Missouri are in the midst of an epic challenge: to visit all 59 national parks by the NPS centennial on August 25, 2016.
There are a lot of stories like this one cropping up around the NPS’ 100th birthday but what’s different about this dynamic duo is that they are in their mid-twenties, far younger than the average 50-something national park-goer. They call themselves the “Switchback Kids” and they are chronicling their adventures on-line (don’t miss their engaging People of the Parks character sketches).
The Donelsons’ first travel leg included three phenomenal and diverse parks in my home state, Colorado—the Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Most recently they spent some time down-south in the Everglades and Biscayne, and in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles off the coast of Florida. They are now at Virgin Islands National Park and will, no doubt, have trouble tearing themselves away.
Though I am sure Elizabeth and Cole will reach their goal next year, even if they don’t, they’re inspiring so many people–young and old–to buck convention and to get off the beaten path where being has a lightness everyone should know.
Photo of Great Sands Dunes National Park © Heather Hansen.