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Is This (Still) the Ultimate Road Trip Map?

You may have seen this meme before. It’s a Google map of the lower 48 U.S. states and a route around the country. The design was created in 2015 using data and aims to stop at significant sites, including national parks, historical sites, and other landmarks.

The creator attempted to make the ultimate road trip, but it’s been almost a decade since it was designed… so, does it still hold true?

Dr. Randal S. Olson, a data scientist and AI researcher, created the map with Tracy Staedter, a science journalist. The two wanted to use an algorithm from Olson to compute the ultimate road trip. 

According to Olson’s website, they set three rules in place: 

  1. The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S.
  2. The trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments.
  3. The trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S.

Olson designed the route to be an optimal amount of time. In the end, the map includes 13,699 miles of driving. Without stopping or traffic, that’s 224 hours or more than nine days behind the wheel.

“The best part is that this road trip is designed so that you can start anywhere on the route as long as you follow it from then on,” wrote Olson on his website. “You’ll hit every major area in the U.S. on this trip, and as an added bonus, you won’t spend too long driving through the endless corn fields of Nebraska.”

The Ultimate Road Trip Route

road tripping in the u.s.

The 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

Is It Still the Ultimate Road Trip?

Olson released the map in 2015 and received a lot of press, including reviews in the Washington Post and more recently in the Daily Mail, but does the map hold up today?

When the map appears online, you see plenty of backlash or those who are upset that the route doesn’t go to their favorite city. Comments include, “They didn’t even come down to Miami? Where did they stop in Florida? Jacksonville?” and “Skipped Atlanta? Counterfeit map.” Meanwhile, others are upset with the included areas, with posts like “You can probably take San Francisco off the trip now.”

Maybe the comments are just the internet being the internet, but what do you think? Does this sound like the ultimate road trip to you? Let us know in the comments.

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