Man Achieves Goal to Visit ALL 59 National Parks

When Dave Parker entered Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Tuesday night, he accomplished his lifelong dream to visit the 59 iconic national parks in the U.S.

Chief Ranger John Broward shakes hands with Dave Parker of McLean, VA who completed his quest to visit all 59 National Parks on Wednesday. (All photos NPS Photos by Janice Wei)

“To see Kīlauea erupt is indescribable and it’s just spectacular to see,” Parker said. “It’s the reason we came here,” he said.

On Wednesday, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park surprised Parker with a “59ers” Certificate of Achievement, signed by National Park Service Acting Director, Mike Reynolds. The certificate was presented by Acting Superintendent and Chief Ranger John Broward, who congratulated Parker in front of visitors and staff at the Kīlauea Visitor Center.

Dave Parker poses for a photo in front of an interpretive display in the Kīlauea Visitor Center of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

“It’s uplifting that Mr. Parker made it a priority to see all 59 of the iconic national parks,” Broward said. “Park visitors help steward our public lands, and by appreciating them, they protect them. And Dave Parker, you couldn’t have a better last name,” he said.

Parker’s love for national parks blossomed at the tender age of 14, when his parents took him to his first parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. His family camped, rode horses, hiked the trails and watched Yellowstone’s famous geyser, Old Faithful, erupt.

Now 77, Parker, his wife Carol, and friends Red and Sheri Cavaney, will spend a few nights at Volcano House and explore the eruptions of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. They enjoyed a ranger talk about the volcanic origins of the Hawaiian Islands, and a guided tour with the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (FHVNP).

Left to right: Elizabeth Fien, Executive Director of the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Dave Parker “59er”; , Margot Griffith, Executive Director of the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association; and Hawaii Volcanoes’ Acting Superintendent and Chief Ranger John Broward smile for a photo in the Kīlauea Visitor Center.

The park’s non-profit supporting partners, the FHVNP and the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, presented the Parkers and friends with commemorative items including ball caps, T shirts, pins, a gift certificate for The Rim restaurant, and other mementos and educational items to help them enjoy and discover the park.

“There are many ways to support your parks,” Parker said. “All parks have organizations that support them that you can donate to. You can volunteer and give back with your time. It’s an important investment to make for the survival of public lands and our future generations,” he said.

The auspicious visit was Parker’s fifth time to Hawai‘i, and his first to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. During his early career working for the Dept. of Commerce in Wash., D.C., he helped promote travel to the U.S., and had close ties to the Hawai‘i visitor industry. He and his wife live in McLean, VA.

Left to right: Sheri Cavaney, Dave Parker, Carol Parker and Red Cavaney, smile for photos in the Kīlauea Visitor Center on Wednesday. Dave is wearing an NPS Centennial T-shirt listing all 59 national parks.

The National Park Service has more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

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