A GearJunkie staffer just hit the road with a goal to visit every national park in the contiguous United States. We’ll share his stories from the road along the way.
In April, one of the desks at GearJunkie’s Minneapolis office was packed up and left unoccupied. One of our own, a sales director turned travel editor, Kyle Nossaman cruised up I-35 with his wife. They kicked off a full year on the road in a converted school bus-RV.
Although we’re a bit jealous, we look forward to the travel stories, gear reviews, and on-the-ground coverage he’ll provide. This article kicks off our new #NationalParksFieldTrip series.
Check out a video tour of the Nossamans’ bus below.
From Dream Trip to Reality
Hello readers, I am Kyle Nossaman. My wife Kallie and I are both 25 years old. When we got married, we made a wild goal of spending a year on the road before having kids and “settling down.”
With that goal in the back of our minds, an ad for a converted school bus-RV caught our eye. Previously owned, renovated, and lived in by a couple based in Bozeman, Mont., the bus checked all of our boxes for a vehicle suitable to live and travel in for a full year.
Within a month, we bought a one-way ticket to Bozeman and drove the bus back to our apartment in Minneapolis.
With that big leap behind us, we began to formulate a yearlong plan. We both shared a passion for national parks and figured a road trip to see them would offer a variety of experiences and help structure our trip.
To allow enough time for the majority of the parks, we decided to exclude those in Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. A quick Google search brought up an optimal route to all 47 national parks in the 48 contiguous United States, some 15,000 total miles.
Now, 14 months after buying the bus and countless hours of planning, we’re on the road with 47 national parks ahead of us.
National Parks Road Trip Details
For the most part, our timeline is flexible. We listed all the parks in driving order (see below) and allocated rough date ranges to each. We left more time for larger and more involved parks (like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Olympic, etc.) and less time for others (like Wind Cave, Petrified Forest, etc.). We’ve made a few reservations along our route — mostly at popular campgrounds and for backcountry permits — which will keep us on track for the year.
Because the bus is so large and doesn’t get the best gas mileage, we purchased a used 2014 Honda Grom motorcycle that fits on a small hitch rack at the back of the bus. We’ll use it to drive around the parks and get to trailheads efficiently.
Along the way, we plan to visit areas outside of national parks. Bears Ears National Monument, Smith Rock, Devils Tower National Monument, and others are on the agenda. The idea is to unplug, fuel our passion for the outdoors, and play in some of our most scenic and well preserved wild places while they’re still around.
Road Trip Coverage on GearJunkie
We’ll write stories regularly throughout the year — mostly national park guides and gear reviews. Expect planning resources, top experiences, a few recommendations, and what we wish we had known beforehand.
Please give us feedback and ask questions while we’re on the road! We want this series to be helpful and inspiring.
—Kyle and Kallie Nossaman