This Man Plans to Run a Marathon in Every National Park – And You Can, Too

Bill Sycalik runs at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Credit: Stephen Guo

After he turned 45, Bill Sycalik did what many management consultants dream about doing — he quit his New York City job and went into the wild. "I packed up my things, stored everything at my brother’s house in Pennsylvania, and I started running the National Parks," says Sycalik. In his 2008 Subaru Impreza, Sycalik drove across the country with the goal of running a self-guided marathon in all 59 National Parks. Already he’s completed 46, running along the base of a volcano at Mount Rainier National Park, through a herd of pronghorn at Wind Cave, and nearly getting lost in the desert at Guadalupe Mountains. He plans to finish running the parks in September of 2018, ending in Alaska. 

Fortunately for the rest of us, Sycalik has meticulously documented his runs. He has a club on Strava that anyone can follow, where he and others document their distance, time, and more, but he also uploads all his runs on his website. From there, you can click on the park you want to run in, download his path on your watch or handheld GPS, and follow in his footsteps. So next time you're in a National Park and jonesing for a nice long run, we have your game plan right here: 

Acadia National Park – 29.1 miles. Elevation: 2,182 ft. Elapsed time: 4:34:40

Shenandoah National Park – 27.9 miles. Elevation: 6,512 ft. Elapsed time: 7:23:24

Cuyahoga Valley National Park – 27.2 miles. Elevation: 2,847 ft. Elapsed time: 5:58:13

Isle Royale National Park – 26.3 miles. Elevation: 3,368 ft. Elapsed time: 5:49:12

Voyageurs National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 3,931 ft. Elapsed time: 6:35:47

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – 30.5 mi. Elevation: 3,478 ft. Elapsed time: 6:4611

Badlands National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 1,669 ft. Elapsed time: 4:44:41

Wind Cave National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 3,336 ft. Elapsed time: 5:30:48

Grand Teton National Park – 29.7 mi. Elevation: 4,167 ft. Elapsed time: 7:04:48

Yellowstone National Park – 29.1 mi. Elevation: 3,775 ft. Elapsed time: 6:46:01

Glacier National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 4,951 ft. Elapsed time: 6:28:23

North Cascades National Park – 26.2 mi. Elevation: 5,352 ft. Elapsed time: 6:04:50

Olympic National Park – 26.9 mi. Elevation: 2,449 ft. Elapsed time: 5:49:22

Mount Rainier National Park – 29.8 mi. Elevation: 7,379 ft. Elapsed time: 8:41:58

Crater Lake National Park – 26.2 mi. Elevation: 2,999 ft. Elapsed time: 4:34:18

Redwood National Park – 27.2 mi. Elevation: 4,091 ft. Elapsed time: 5:56:40.

Lassen Volcanic National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 3,635 ft. Elapsed time: 7:02:44

Yosemite National Park – 24.0 mi. Elevation: 5,154 ft. Elapsed time: 6:09:06

Great Basin National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 7,923 ft. Elapsed time: 6:15:01

Zion National Park – 27.4 mi. Elevation: 3,432 ft. Elapsed time: 5:51:09

Bryce Canyon National Park – 26.5 mi. Elevation: 5,656 ft. Elapsed time: 6:05:14

Capitol Reef National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 2,461 ft. Elapsed time: 4:40:23

Arches National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 3,287 ft. Elapsed time: 5:14:27

Canyonlands National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 4,672 ft. Elapsed time: 7:09:50

Death Valley National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 5,240 ft. Elapsed time: 5:06:19

Pinnacles National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 6,198 ft. Elapsed time: 6:44:01

Joshua Tree National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 3,501 ft. Elapsed time: 5:31:04

Channel Island National Park – 26.5 mi. Elevation: 6,027 ft. Elapsed time: 5:19:49

Saguaro National Park – 26.9 mi. Elevation: 4,934 ft. Elapsed time: 6:41:30

Petrified Forest National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 1,588 ft. Elapsed time: 4:14:24

Guadalupe National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 6,503 ft. Elapsed time: 7:54:54

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – 26.6 mi. Elevation: 2,087 ft. Elapsed time: 5:13:30

Big Bend National Park – 27.4 mi. Elevation: 6,804 ft. Elapsed time: 7:42:32

Hot Springs National Park – 27.3 mi. Elevation: 5,850 ft. Elapsed time: 6:42:32

Mammoth Cave National Park – 26.2 mi. Elevation: 2,444 ft. Elapsed time: 5:11:50

Congaree National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 617 ft. Elapsed time: 5:14:20

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 27.1 mi. Elevation: 6,883 ft. Elapsed time: 6:34:33

Dry Tortugas National Park – 26.2 mi. Elevation: 722 ft. Elapsed time: 3:21:08.

Biscayne National Park – 26.7 mi. Elevation: 584 ft. Elapsed time: 5:04:53

Everglades National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 4,035 ft. Elapsed time: 4:25:45

Virgin Islands National Park – 26.6 mi. Elevation: 7,507 ft. Elapsed time: 6:43:37

Rocky Mountain National Park – 26.3 mi. Elevation: 7,986 ft. Elapsed time: 7:18:37

Great Sand Dunes National Park – 26.5 mi. Elevation: 4,354 ft. Elapsed time: 6:08:52

Mesa Verde National Park – 26.4 mi. Elevation: 2,723 ft. Elapsed time: 4:52:16

Grand Canyon National Park – 28.0 mi. Elevation: 8,985 ft. Elapsed time: 8:00:29

Kings Canyon National Park – 26.5 mi. Elevation: 4,505 ft. Elapsed time: 7:19:34

Next up:

Sequoia National Park – June 23

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – July 1

Hawaiian parks and American Samoa – September. (The dates for the Alaskan parks are not yet determined.)

Before you run in a park, check with park rangers to make sure the route is safe. Weather and animals could lead to trail closures. Safety is also a must. Sycalik carries food, a first-aid kit, materials to make a fire, a GPS that doesn’t need cell signal, and extra layers of clothing dependent on weather. 

If you want to run with Sycalik, you can send him an email at runningtheparks@gmail.com or message him on Twitter to @runtheparks