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Meet Mikah Meyer, the Gay Guy Who’s Been to Every National Park Ever

Mikah Meyer

Meyer’s trip is an homage to his late father, a Christian pastor, who was also keen on taking road trips. 


Mikah Meyer wanted to do something huge for his 30th birthday; something truly spectacular.

After a bit of pondering, the idea of hitting the road to see all of the national parks in the U.S. enticed him. Soon enough, he realized there aren't just a couple dozen such national parks. If you count all the different sites protected by the National Park Service, there are 419 of them, and Meyer is about to have accomplished visiting each and every single one on April 29.

"I wanted to do something that would really grab people -- something crazy but also something relatable," he told Out. But more importantly, Meyer says he wanted to do something that would also bring people together. "Across the political spectrum, across ideology, across socioeconomic status, across race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation -- people from all walks of life love national parks. So it's the sort of thing that seems like it could relate to any party."

Over the last three years and 200,000 miles, Meyer has hit every corner of the nation, visiting landmarks, parks, battlefields, monuments, and nature reserves in every state and all of the US territories. On Monday, which also marks the 14th anniversary of his father's death from cancer, he will make his final stop at the Lincoln Memorial. He's criss-crossed the roads of the US in a van, raising funds to live off of for the last three years through small donations and sponsorships.

Before shipping off in 2016, Meyer said he'd only been to about 10 national parks sites. But in his travels, he's taken a small plane to the Aniakchak National Monument in Alaska (the least visited site because of its seclusion), and faced alligators and pythons with a courageous park ranger in the Florida Everglades who made it a habit to finish her tours by telling everyone that she loved them. And Meyer made sure to unfurl a rainbow flag at every site of his world record-setting trip, documenting the moment on Instagram.


Meyer says he was generally concerned about his safety, especially as local newspapers would pick up a story about him. "I slept in a van in parking lots at places like WalMart, and the local newspapers would be like, "Hey! He's sleeping right here in this van!" All it takes is one crazy person, so that was ever-present on my mind." In the actual parks, Meyer says most of his trips have been positive, though he does remember one jaunt to the stunning Haleakala National Park where he says he went so late in the day, he nearly got lost after the sun went down. He remembers being worried a bear or might come around a corner at any minute while hiking in Katmai National Park.

In his travels, Meyer makes a point to also visit churches and religious communities to talk about being gay. The process, he said, has reminded him that there are so many places in the country where being LGBTQ+ means you can face discrimination, hostility, or worse.

"It's easy for those of us in the LGBT community who have made it to more welcoming areas, to forget what so much of America is like," he said. "We have openly gay presidential candidates and celebrities, but going to these places and seeing LGBT people's realities around the country -- for instance, in states like South Dakota, where I was born, there are still nearly 30 states where you can be fired for who you are. There's still so much work that needs to happen."

On the other hand, though, Meyer says that he thinks at the end of the day, humans share a lot of the same intrinsic values. "The people I've met, whether they're Democrat or Republican, whether they are any given race or ethnicity -- what's been amazing is that everyone I've met in their deepest core, they want to be loved by others and be able to love in return. They want to help their community and help their children. It all comes back to their desire to find and build a community."

Once the big trip is over, Meyer will be looking toward his next big project: settling into a community. "I've been living in this van and every ounce of my time has gone into fundraising and planning my trip," he said. "I haven't been on a second date in years. I haven't been able to join a gay sports league. So I'm really looking forward to it. Though, I know I'm going to have to retrain my brain to chill the F out."

RELATED | Meet the Gay Ranger Who Is Helping Make the National Park Service a Little More Queer

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