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Use This Scientifically Proven Map To Visit (Most) All Major US Landmarks

We’ve featured the work of Brian DeFrees and his epic time lapse video before.

Brian made a map of his 12,000 mile, 2 month journey across the US, and although it looked as if Brian saw just about every major landmark in the US during his trip, truth be told he missed a few major attractions along the way.

RELATED: Take A Road Trip Across America In This 5 Minute Time Lapse Video

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Is there a perfect route for seeing all the national landmarks in the United States in the least amount of time? Probably not. But one data scientist tried coming up with a mostly perfect route.

What’s the Best Route to See All Major US Landmarks?

A Michigan State University Ph.D. student named Randal Olson came up with such a map and route. You might remember another of Randal’s recent discoveries, a way to find Where’s Waldo the fastest.

Tracy Staedter at Discovery News emailed back and forth with Randal about producing the road trip route. Randal came up with a solution for an optimal trip using with these three conditions:

  1. no state (of the contiguous 48) would get left out, and the route would make at least one stop in each state
  2. the stops would include either a National Natural Landmark, National Historic Site, National Park, or a National Monument
  3. you could make the trip using just a car or RV (no airplanes, boats, etc.)

Since it would take millions of years of computing time to chug through each possible itinerary , Randal and Tracy had to compromise on a ‘pretty good route’, one that’s still based on a computer algorithm that Randall developed, and also used in finding an optimal way to locate Waldo.

Here’s the route.

Best road trip
Randal Olson

View the interactive road trip map here.

And how long might this trip take?

Randal says that if there weren’t any traffic (or road construction) you’d need 9.33 days of driving time. Factor in normal travel times though, and you’re looking at a two to three month long trip.

If you’re of the programming bent, Randal has made his Python code freely available, so you can make your own custom – and optimal – road trip.

Want one for Europe? Randal also has the code for a European road trip too.

Randal says that his software will help perfect any sized trip, whether just through your own home state or around the entire world.

Optimal trip planning resources:



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