Road trip! How to visit major landmarks in every state

Lots of people love road trips and to tick off the number of states they have visited. Now, a doctoral student has taken that idea to a more logical place.

Computer science Ph.D. Randal Olson is a doctoral computer science student at Michigan State University.

Olson used an algorithm to create the ultimate road trip. It stops in all 48 continental states and hits 50 major landmarks along the way, including West Baden Spring Hotel in Indiana. He shared the map online and it’s quickly spread on social media.

The route is 13,699 miles and he estimates it would take 224 hours of driving to complete.


“Why not use the same algorithm from (another project) to compute the optimal road trip across every state in the U.S.?” Olson wrote in his blog. “Visiting every U.S. state has long been on my bucket list, so I jumped on the opportunity and opened up my machine learning tool box for another quick weekend project.”

The best part is that the route is a circle! You can start from the landmark nearest you and follow the path.

Here’s the list of the 50 landmarks they chose:

1. Grand Canyon, AZ
2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, 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

So how much would this ultimate road trip set you back and how long would it take? Olson started a Reddit discussion to try to get to the bottom of it, though he admits there are a lot of factors that would effect it.

“If I were to go on this trip, I would dedicate at least 3 months to it,” Olson said. “I wouldn’t just stop at the landmarks in the map; I would add plenty of my own, for example stopping in Los Angeles on the way through California.”

Olson said it’s hard to give a number for the cost, though, “the current estimate is sitting at $9,000 for a family of 4 driving in a rented RV.”

Olson’s calculations didn’t stop there, though. He also made another map for Europe’s landmarks.

Click HERE to see Olson’s optimal U.S. road trip.

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