Cyclist is riding through all national parks


Last updated 10/10/2023 at 10:33am

Photo by Jim Cornelius

Spencer McCullough stopped in Sisters last week on his way to Crater Lake National Park. He's visiting every park in the Lower 48 on one continuous bike trip.

Spencer McCullough is on a mission to visit every national park in the Lower 48 on one continuous bicycle trip. According to the stats he posts on his website ( he's visited 19 out of 51 parks, traveling 7,856 miles - with seven flat tires along the way.

McCullough stopped in Sisters on Tuesday, October 3, on his way to Crater Lake National Park.

He has a couple or purposes in mind with his trip. One is personal: He wants to see the bounty of the parks while it is there to be enjoyed. He notes that the flora and fauna of the parks is changing. He notes as an example that the iconic red pines of Acadia National Park in Maine are dying.

"These places, when I'm 80, could be so different than what I've seen on the Discovery Channel and NatGeo," he said.

On his website, he reflects on an article he read in the New York Times, titled "What to Save? Climate Change Forces Brutal Choices at National Parks":

"I have already missed my shot to see the Great Barrier Reef in its full glory - that opportunity passed me by in high school, nothing I can do about that now. But Glacier National Park still capped by snow, Joshua Tree National Park with those soon-to-be-gone Joshua trees, Rocky Mountain National Park with any trees at all... These are things I still have the chance to experience. The article says that it may take 50 to 80 years for changes like these to really become noticeable. But one of the rangers they interviewed said that usually these changes happen in a couple of years - a drought one year, then a disease the next, perhaps a wildfire after that, and then all of these things could be gone."

The 28-year-old cyclist is also hoping to promote cycling in national parks, which are dominated by car traffic. In fact, he says, the massive number of cars driving into national parks has a big environmental impact.

He says he sees "more policing of bicycles than education of motorists" in parks. He hopes to see the parks become more bicycle friendly, and to take the lead on changing road culture.

McCullough lives in Denver and started his trek in Key West. He's riding a kind of figure 8 around the country. When he hit Sisters, he was looking forward to taking a couple of days off to visit with friends in Bend.

The young rider said he did not engage in any specific training for the long ride. He's a bicycle commuter; riding is his only means of transportation and a way of life.

McCullough stayed at Sisters' city park campground overnight, and made a pleasing discovery:

"I noticed your municipal campground has a hiker/biker spot that charges cyclists a cheaper rate," he texted. "This is the first municipal campground on my trip that I've seen with that distinction. A lot of places still don't do this."

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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