Owing to the passion and determination of an Australian couple bent on experiencing American national parks, a book of iconic photos of all 59 of those parks will be published simultaneously with the National Park Service’s 100th birthday. 

It took nearly 12 months of vacation time over seven years by an Australian couple, Andrew and Deb Thomas, to visit all the 59 national parks and compile the photos.  But now a landmark book by Andrew, an award-winning photographer, is in publication and will be released this summer.

The hardcover 12” x 10.25” book that contains 168 pages and 250 photos is being published by Douglas & McIntyre and will retail for $39.95. That price is inexpensive relative to the design quality and sheer scope of the project that included visiting all the national parks at least once, and the majority more than once to capture multiple images in various seasons.

Thomas said he incubated the idea of visiting all the national parks when he came to Death Valley National Park to run in the 2007 Death Valley Marathon and, afterward, also visited Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon. 

“In 2009, when we started our quest to visit all the national parks, there were 58 parks,” Thomas said. “In 2013, Pinnacles National Park was created, and that put one more destination on the itinerary.”

Thomas, a graphics designer who enjoys taking photos and shooting short videos, said he didn’t start collecting the images with the idea of producing a book. 

“I began by looking around for bed-and-breakfast places near national parks that might want to trade a night or two for photos to decorate their inns,” Thomas said.

That’s how the couple became acquainted with Greg and Pam Lockhart of Three Rivers, who own and operate the Par 3 Vacation Villas.

Andrew started taking digital photos in every park he visited. Soon he had so many images he was wondering what he could do with the best of the collection. 

A few years into working on his to-do list, Andrew started to lay out pages and gather brief text to accompany his extraordinary images.

Residents of Ballarat, Australia, located an hour west of Mebourne, Andrew said his friends think the couple is crazy to spend so much of their free time in the US. But Andrew says part of what appeals to him about this national parks journey is the time spent getting there.

“We love the road trip experience almost as much as being there,” Andrew said. “Rental cars are inexpensive and gas is cheap here.”

But the real hook into prompting all the obsessive travel is the parks themselves.

“There is no place on the planet that can rival America’s national parks,” said Thomas. “Each time, when we encounter visitors and they learn what we are doing, they open their hearts to us and we become fast friends. Americans are the friendliest folks we’ve ever met.”

When asked his favorite park, there was no hesitation: Yellowstone. 

“The abundant wildlife and the geyser pools are a rare combination,” Thomas said. “Have you ever seen color like Grand Prismatic Spring?” 

“When the Yellowstone Basin blows its top, I want to be somewhere nearby,” he continued.

In the meantime, Andrew’s incredible photo journey is due for release on August 9, 2016, to be enjoyed by all who love America’s national parks. He said he hopes to return to Three Rivers later this year for a book signing once the publication hits the shelves.

“I’m certain there is no book like this available by a single photographer, and by an Aussie no less,” Andrew said. “It’s not a guidebook but just a small part of all there is to see and experience in America’s truly wonderful national parks.”                

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