Off The Record
Scientists Used Complicated Mathematical Formula To Identify The Ultimate United States Road Trip
Visiting 50 states can sound like an impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be.
Randal Olson used a mathematical equation to navigate through the most optimal route to visit 50 states in the shortest amount of time.
Here’s a visualization of a genetic algorithm solving a similar routing problem below.
The rules are as it goes: All 48 contiguous states must be traveled to, and stops are only allowed at National sites like monuments, parks, historic sites etc. and the entire trip must be 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 complicated math, something I truly suck at, Olson came up with this roadmap below. The road will take about 224 hours to complete if the weather was pristine. That’s a total of 9 days driving time, but the whole trip would take about 2-3 months to complete. And yeah, you can start from any point on this roadmap and take it from there.
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 Nebraska and Kansas!
Of course, you can plan your own trip and put stops you’d like to visit, but this is the most efficient route to save hours of planning time. Plus, considering this was done with a complicated mathematical formula makes it even cooler!
Here’s the Google Maps of the route:      
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