Many are history buffs. Most are careful record-keepers who strive to keep their park passport books updated with all the newest locations. About 2,000 of them belong to the National Park Travelers Club, born in 2004. In a typical year, by the estimate of Scott Burch, superintendent at National Park of American Samoa, about 40 visitors come to Pago Pago as part of a quest to visit all parks. In fact, the National Park Travelers Club has now honored 43 people for visiting every unit in the system — not just parks but national monuments, seashores, recreation areas, historic districts and more. At the moment, there are 413 units.
Kalash isn’t that ambitious. Her quest, begun in 2014, was merely to visit all 59 of the system’s full-fledged national parks. Mountains and flowers and glaciers make me super happy. I just want them to be part of my life. And I really love slot canyons. — Andrea Kalash
She got started when a list of the parks fell into her hands, and she realized she had already seen more than half of them without trying.
She decided to start trying — to see them all by the end of this, the NPS centennial year. This isn’t necessarily a project that family and friends expected from Kalash, who grew up in Duluth, Minn.
But that changed in 2008, when she started taking traveling nurse assignments. Her first stop was Santa Rosa, Calif. Taking assignments that typically last 13 weeks, Kalash started spending her off-hours seeking hiking trails and open spaces.
“I was going to do it for two years,” she said. But it was more absorbing than she expected. “Mountains and flowers and glaciers make me super happy,” she said. “I just want them to be part of my life. And I really love slot canyons.”