On January 1, 2016, I left my home in Washington, D.C., with my camera and a few personal belongings in an Airstream trailer for what I believe is the Greatest American Road Trip—visiting all 59 U.S. national parks in 52 weeks to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.
My partner, Stefanie Payne, and I planned this national parks road trip around seasonality. We will explore parks in warmer climates during the winter, make our way to Alaska to experience the salmon run during the summer, capture the changing of the leaves in the Rockies and Tetons during autumn, and end our trip on the warm, beautiful beaches of American Samoa late in December.
As we begin our epic yearlong road trip, I am reminded of the reason why I left my job at National Geographic to photograph the parks: to stand in awe of the energizing nature of our majestic national gems. This is a passion project for us. Stefanie and I both grew up loving the great outdoors, especially the beautiful nature in the U.S. national parks. They are sacred and cherished places—our greatest personal and national treasures.
It's a gift to spend a year adventuring and capturing incredible images and stories in some of the most beautiful places on Earth. It's going to be a crazy, fun ride. I hope you'll follow our epic journey for our pictures and tips for visiting the parks during this year's celebration.
Jonathan Irish is a professional outdoor and adventure photographer represented by National Geographic Creative. He was formerly the senior director of adventures for National Geographic Expeditions. Follow him on Instagramand Twitter.
Follow the #59in52 adventure on Facebook and at TheGreatestRoadTrip.com.