270 National Parks, 12 Years Old - Backpacker

270 National Parks, 12 Years Old

Georgia girl hopes to visit all 391 National Parks before age 14

There's nothing more I'd like to do than spend all my days visiting every national park in the park system. Working at BACKPACKER certainly helps, but this thing called the Internet keeps dragging me back to society.

Maybe I'd have better luck if I was a 12-year-old girl. Chandler Johnson of Rome, Georgia hopes to visit every unit in the NPS system by the time she turns 14. So far, she's got a great head start: With the help of some pretty awesome parents, she's driven more than 100,000 miles in two cars to 48 states and racked up 270 national park visits in the process.

“I enjoy going to the parks because I learn about the historical, cultural and environmental relevance they each have,” said Chandler.

With only 121 parks to go, she's well over halfway there, but she'll have to amp up her frequency to meet her goal (though if she doesn't make it until, say, age 16, I certainly wouldn't hold it against her). Chandler's favorite park so far is Yellowstone, and not surprisingly, she'd like to work for the NPS someday.

“I want to be a National Parks interpreter when I grow up,” Chandler said. “Someone who informs visitors and talks about the parks.”

I'd say she's already overqualified, and perhaps aiming a little low. Is there a National Parks Overlord position open?

—Ted Alvarez

12-year-old seeks to accomplish lofty parks goal by the age of 14 (Rome News-Journal)