It is possible to curate the perfect road trip across the U.S. that won't miss any of our nation's best landmarks? Believe it or not, it is. And this map will show you how.
How Science Created the Perfect American Road Trip Map
A few years ago, Discovery News blogger Tracy Staedter sought to put an end to tedious roads trips after discovering a road map that claimed to route all of the nation's major landmarks. Staedter realized the map wasn't just inaccurate (more than a few states were missing), but it was also terribly inefficient.
"Wouldn't it be nice to have a map that hit landmarks in every state and not only that?" she mused. "Wouldn't it be great if the map represented the optimal, most efficient route across the country?"
So to create a timeless, perfect road map across the United States, Staedter contacted Randy Olson, a Michigan State University doctoral student. Olson used an algorithm to generate the map, factoring in logistics for traffic, turns, and alternate routes. Even though the route isn't technically "perfect," it's about as close as the curious adventurer can get to the most efficient roadmap across America.
Science's Itinerary for the Perfect Road Trip Across the USA
All of the stops are in the continental United States, which is expected for traveling by car. The route can be started from any state and would total around 9.33 days worth of driving. But Olson also explains, in actuality, that the round trip should probably take around two- three months.
The data scientist handpicked all 50 stops ranging between national landmarks and historical sites, hoping to offer a "nice mix of history and natural wonder"- a seemingly perfect combination for the spirited traveler. And although you won't hit Alaska or Hawaii (for obvious reasons), you can't go without visiting our nation's capital or hitting at least two places in California.
So here is the perfect U.S. road trip itinerary according to science:
- Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- Craters of the Moon, Idaho
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Pikes Peak, Colorado
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
- The Alamo, Texas
- The Platt Historic District, Oklahoma
- Toltec Mounds, Arkansas
- Elvis Presley's Graceland, Tennessee
- Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi
- French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
- USS Alabama, Alabama
- Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
- Okefenokee Swamp Park, Georgia
- Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina
- Lost World Caverns, West Virginia
- Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, North Carolina
- Mount Vernon, Virginia
- White House, Washington, DC
- Colonial Annapolis Historic District, Maryland
- New Castle Historic District, Delaware
- Cape May Historic District, New Jersey
- Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania
- Statue of Liberty, New York
- The Mark Twain House & Museum, Connecticut
- The Breakers, Rhode Island
- USS Constitution, Massachusetts
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Mount Washington Hotel, New Hampshire
- Shelburne Farms, Vermont
- Fox Theater, Detroit, Michigan
- Spring Grove Cemetery, Ohio
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
- West Baden Springs Hotel, Indiana
- Abraham Lincoln's Home, Illinois
- Gateway Arch, Missouri
- C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, Kansas
- Terrace Hill Governor's Mansion, Iowa
- Taliesin, Wisconsin
- Fort Snelling, Minnesota
- Ashfall Fossil Bed, Nebraska
- Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
- Fort Union Trading Post, North Dakota
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Hanford Site, Washington
- Columbia River Highway, Oregon
- San Francisco Cable Cars, California
- San Andreas Fault, California
- Hoover Dam, Nevada
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 22, 2019.
What're your favorite U.S. landmarks to stop by on a road trip? Share your experiences with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!