This Is The Ultimate Road Trip Across The United States, According To Science

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 that with so many cool spots to visit, where do you even start?

Thankfully, writer Tracy Staedter took on the challenge. She enlisted data expert Randal Olson to create the ideal and most efficient road trip route across the United States. If you’re considering a road trip, don’t leave home without reading this.

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

Ready to get packing? Here’s the full list of landmarks in order:

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

New Orleans French quarter photo
Getty Images | Mario Tama

USS Alabama, Alabama

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

cape canaveral photo
Getty Images | Bill Ingalls/NASA

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

the white house photo
Getty Images | Zach Gibson

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

mount rushmore photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

Fort Union Trading Post, North Dakota

Glacier National Park, Montana

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

San Francisco Cable Cars, California

San Andreas Fault, California

Hoover Dam, Nevada

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


We’re curious: Would you consider hitting the open road for a well-planned trip like this?