Scientists Have Identified The Ultimate United States Road Trip

Have you ever dreamed about taking a trip through all 50 states? It may sound impossible, but it doesn't have to be. Randal Olson used a mathematical equation to figure out the most optimal route that would allow travelers to hit every state (at least the 48 contiguous states) in the shortest amount of time.

The rules were simple: All 48 contiguous states must be visited, stops are only allowed at National sites (parks, monuments etc.) and the entire car trip must stay within the confines of the U.S. borders. "The result was an epic itinerary with a mix of inner city exploration, must-see historical sites, and beautiful natural landscapes. All that was left was to figure out the path that would minimize our time spent driving and maximize our time spent enjoying the landmarks", Olson wrote on his blog.

Using a lot of numbers and a bit of complicated math, Olson came up with this layout. The route, with clear roads and perfect weather, would take about 224 hours (more than 9 days) of driving time, but you can start at any point on the route and work from there. The trip itself would likely take 2-3 months.

An interactive version of the map can be found here. The list of stops include:

  • Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY
  • Pikes Peak, CO
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
  • The Alamo, TX
  • The Platt Historic District, OK
  • Toltec Mounds, AR
  • Elvis Presley's Graceland, TN
  • Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
  • French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
  • USS Alabama, AL
  • Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
  • Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
  • Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
  • Lost World Caverns, WV
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
  • Mount Vernon, VA
  • White House, Washington, DC
  • Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
  • New Castle Historic District, Delaware
  • Cape May Historic District, NJ
  • Liberty Bell, PA
  • Statue of Liberty, NY
  • The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
  • The Breakers, RI
  • USS Constitution, MA
  • Acadia National Park, ME
  • Mount Washington Hotel, NH
  • Shelburne Farms, VT
  • Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
  • Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
  • Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
  • West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
  • Abraham Lincoln's Home, IL
  • Gateway Arch, MO
  • C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
  • Terrace Hill Governor's Mansion, IA
  • Taliesin, WI
  • Fort Snelling, MN
  • Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
  • Mount Rushmore, SD
  • Fort Union Trading Post, ND
  • Glacier National Park, MT
  • Hanford Site, WA
  • Columbia River Highway, OR
  • San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
  • San Andreas Fault, CA
  • Hoover Dam, NV

Bonus: You get to skip the hours of fields in Kansas and Nebraska!

If you want to plan your own trip, check out Route XL which lets you put in your address, any stops you want to make and fuel stops. The program spits out the most efficient route so you can save hours of planning time and hours in the car!

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