Road Trip! Randy Olson Calculated The Optimal Trip to U.S. Landmarks in 48 States

Remember that viral story about the most efficient way to find Waldo? Well, Randy Olson is back with something that could save you more than time hunting for the right guy wearing red and white stripes – this one will save you fuel. With the help of Tracy Staedter from Discovery News, he’s created an interesting exercise in efficient road tripping, charting the optimal route around the 48 contiguous U.S. states stopping at national landmarks all along the way.

Olson’s rules were as follows:

  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.”

Using the Google Maps API and a self-created Python script, Olson was able to calculate the distance and time driven all 2,500 routes between 50 major U.S. landmarks. The result:

Road trip Randy Olson

You can see an interactive version of the map here.

“Assuming no traffic, this road trip will take about 224 hours (9.33 days) of driving in total, so it’s truly an epic undertaking that will take at least 2-3 months to complete. 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. 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.”

Read the entire story about how this route was created and a full list of the landmarks it hits (including such locations as the Statue of Liberty, Spring Grove Cemetery, Yellowstone National Park, Gateway Arch, and the Ashfall Fossil Bed) at There’s also a bonus route featuring popular cities in each state.


(Grand Canyon image by Chensiyuan)

Share this Story