Discovery Channel producer Tracy Staedter contacted Michigan State University doctoral student Randy Olson to create an optimal road trip across the United States. The parameters of the trip were:

  • It would make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S. That means no state is left out!

  • Each stop would be at a National Natural Landmark, National Historic Site, National Park, or National Monument

  • It would be a true road trip, taken by car and not leave U.S. soil.

Randy agreed! He used an advanced algorithm, some coding, and Google Maps to create his route. (Read more about the process he used on this blog). The stops represent nice a mix of history and natural wonder. If you had the road to yourself, it would take 9.33 days of driving, Olson calculates, but in reality you’d need at least 2 to 3 months to make the journey.

  1. Grand Canyon, AZ
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  3. Craters of the Moon, ID
  4. Yellowstone National Park, WY
  5. Pikes Peak, CO
  6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
  7. The Alamo, TX
  8. The Platt Historic District, OK
  9. Toltec Mounds, AR
  10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
  11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
  12. French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
  13. USS Alabama, AL
  14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
  15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
  16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
  17. Lost World Caverns, WV
  18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
  19. Mount Vernon, VA
  20. White House, Washington, DC
  21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
  22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware
  23. Cape May Historic District, NJ
  24. Liberty Bell, PA
  25. Statue of Liberty, NY
  26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
  27. The Breakers, RI
  28. USS Constitution, MA
  29. Acadia National Park, ME
  30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH
  31. Shelburne Farms, VT
  32. Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
  33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
  34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
  35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
  36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
  37. Gateway Arch, MO
  38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
  39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
  40. Taliesin, WI
  41. Fort Snelling, MN
  42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
  43. Mount Rushmore, SD
  44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND
  45. Glacier National Park, MT
  46. Hanford Site, WA
  47. Columbia River Highway, OR
  48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
  49. San Andreas Fault, CA
  50. Hoover Dam, NV

What’s great is that you start in any state and as long as you follow the path, you’ll be driving the best route. On top of that, many of the destinations are near other great tourist sites, which means you’d better put in for that vacation now.

This article was excerpted from an article written by Discovery Channel producer Tracy Staedter and was originally published on Discovery News.

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