This Cross-Country Road Trip's Epicness Is Officially Backed By Science

Ever dreamt of taking a trip cross-country? There's so much to see out there in this beautiful land of ours, and I'd recommend everyone get out there and see as many of the 50 states as possible (if not all of them). Before I started working as a writer, I was a touring musician, which gave me a lot of opportunities to see different parts of the country. One thing I can tell you from experience though: a good road trip requires planning.

Apparently, Randal Olson agrees with me. Randal is an accomplished researcher with a dual PhD in Computer Science and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEBB). He used his background in data analysis and processing to create a mathematical equation that mapped out the perfect cross-country road trip. It allows travelers to hit all 48 continental states in the shortest amount of time.

He mapped the trip using the following rules: all 48 continental states must be included, stops are at designated National sites (parks, landmarks, statues, etc.), and the car must stay within United States borders at all times. According to Randal, "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."

After crunching all the numbers, Olson came up with the route mapped out below. With clear roads and good weather, it'd take about 224 hours (a little over 9 days) to drive the whole thing. You can start the trip at any point and work your way from there. To make an actual trip out of this where you actually get to relax and see stuff would probably take about 2-3 months.

Check out the full trip on an interactive map here.

The stops include:

Grand Canyon, Arizona
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Craters of the Moon National Monument, 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, D.C.
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

As a bonus, you get to skip hours and hours of fields in Kansas and Nebraska! Trust me, I've gone through these - with all due love to farmers, you're not missing much at all. 

If you want to plan your own trip, check out Route XL . It'll let you customize your own stops and calculates the most efficient route starting from your address.

Be sure to SHARE this awesome road trip with your family and friends.

H/T: Trek Horizon | Randal Olson

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