This Is The Ultimate Road Trip Across The United States


Who doesn’t love a good road trip?

One of the many great things about our country is that you can experience so many unique and amazing things by just jumping in a car.

The challenge is with so many options of cool spots to visit, where do you even start?

Thankfully, Tracy Staedter from Discovery News took on the challenge.

road trip photo
Flickr | davebloggs007

She enrolled data expert Randal Olson to create the ideal and most efficient road trip route across the United States.

grand canyon photo
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

The parameters were a) the trip must stop in each of the 48 contiguous states, and b) every stop must be a National Landmark, Historic Site, National Park, or National Monument.

national park photo
Getty Images | Lance King

Staedter came up with a list of 50 major landmarks in nearly every state. Then, Olson set to work planning the route.

“The result was an epic itinerary with a mix of inner city exploration, must-see historical sites, and beautiful natural landscapes,” Olson wrote on his website. “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.”

the alamo photo
Getty Images | Isaac Brekken

He found the shortest route by road between every landmark, a total of 2,450 possibilities. He used some expert coding to get the job done in no time.

Next, Olson had to solve what’s known in mathematics as “the traveling salesman problem,” which describes the dilemma a fictitious salesman faces when trying to visit a certain number of cities in the shortest amount of time and for the least amount of money.

graceland photo
Getty Images | Mike Brown

He used an algorithm to help him solve the puzzle.

“After less than a minute, the genetic algorithm reached a near-perfect solution that makes a complete trip around the U.S. in only 13,699 miles (22,046 km) of driving,” Olson wrote.

RELATED: This Map Shows The Most Popular Food In Every State

Here’s the full list of landmarks in order:

Grand Canyon, AZ

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID

craters of the moon idaho photo
Flickr | CAJC: in the Rockies

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

fort sumter photo
Flickr | lns1122

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

mount rushmore photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

Fort Union Trading Post, ND

Glacier National Park, MT

Columbia River Highway, OR

San Francisco Cable Cars, CA

San Andreas Fault, CA

Hoover Dam, NV

RELATED: One Of America’s Most Scenic Train Rides Is Just $97

This route is a total of 13,699 miles and would take over nine days of actual drive time. For a full explanation of how they came up with the trip along with official Google Maps links, click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s