Man rides his bike 18,000 miles to visit all the national parks in the Lower 48 (2024)

By Will Wagner and Dorothy Sedovic

Published: May. 23, 2024 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: 9 hours ago

BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI/Gray News) - Spencer McCullough did something that he says has never been done before; riding his bike to all the national parks in the Lower 48 states.

McCullough documented his journey on his Instagram page as well as on his website.

“I did this ride to promote cycling infrastructure on public lands, advocate for hike/biker spots, cheaper fees, and better incentives for people to leave their cars at home when they’re exploring and recreating on our public lands,” he said.

He started his journey in the Biscayne Bay National Park in Florida and snaked his way through the U.S. to finish his 412-day journey in Acadia National Park.

In total, McCullough rode a total of 18,00 miles to complete his task, which he says is the shortest distance for an “around-the-world bike trip.”

“It’s also the same as riding your bike from the top of Alaska in Prudhoe Bay down to Patagonia at the edge of South America,” McCullough said.

McCullough said it took a little while to adjust to his life on the road.

“For the first couple of weeks, it felt really strange and stressful, and now by the end, it seems very normal to not know where you’re gonna be sleeping when you set out in the morning,” he said.

Along the way, McCullough was faced with plenty of challenges, specifically on roads that were not ideal for cycling.

Some stretches posed more of a challenge as many of the roads in the U.S. are not ideal for bicycles.

“Riding on the road can get pretty dangerous in certain places, like riding through downtown St. Louis was a trip. The tight windy mountain roads in Montana with the 75 mph speed limit were a little scary, but for the most part, it wasn’t too bad,” he said.

McCullough even had to ride on the shoulder of the interstate at times which wasn’t

“I had to ride the interstate in several parts, which like wasn’t tough because you have a very consistent big shoulder, but it’s loud and the semis drive by, and their wake pulls you into the road,” he said. “So, you just got to be paying attention. If you ride in traffic, eventually you become sort of comfortable with it.”

McCullough had plenty of encounters with wildlife, including one with a buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt National Park that started coming towards his campsite.

“I thought surely it would turn and not come towards all these people, but it started coming right in the campground right at my table. So, I got up and moved out of its way, and my bicycle was right in its path,” he said. “And I thought for sure that it would just fold that thing in half because it’s nothing to Buffalo.

It took just a nice little sidestep around the bike and then got back on its path and kept going.”

McCullough visited the 51 parks found in the contiguous U.S.

McCullough would not pick a favorite out of the parks he visited, but he did say his least favorite was the Gateway Arch.

“That shouldn’t be a national park, but it was fun to have a reason to go to St. Louis,” he said.

Through his endeavor, McCullough has learned not only about national parks and public land but about the people and communities he came across.

“The world is not as scary as I think it’s made out to be sometimes,” he said. “And everyone is a pretty good person for the most part ... people were incredibly helpful and accommodating the entire trip.”

Now that his trip is over, he’ll have to adjust to life off the bike.

“It’s gonna be weird tomorrow to not pack up camp and ride my bike for eight hours. I’ve been doing that for the last 400-odd days,” he said. “I’ve looked at this finish point on the map so many times before and I’ve told people this is where I’m finishing, but it’s pretty weird to actually be here.”

There are 63 recognized national parks in the U.S. The parks not found in the Lower 48 states reside in Hawaii, Alaska, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Copyright 2024 WABI via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Man rides his bike 18,000 miles to visit all the national parks in the Lower 48 (2024)


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