cross country road trip
Image via

Map Shows the Most Efficient Cross-Country U.S. Road Trip

Looking for the most efficient American cross-country road trip that doesn't miss the best landmarks around the USA? This map may have your solution.

Discovery News blogger Tracy Staedter sought to put an end to tedious roads trip after discovering a road map that claimed to route all of the nation's major landmarks. Staedter realized the map wasn't just inaccurate (more than a few states were missing), it was also terribly inefficient.

"Wouldn't it be nice to have a map that hit landmarks in every state and not only that," she mused. "Wouldn't it be great if the map represented the optimal, most efficient route across the country?"

To create the perfect American road trip, Staedter contacted Randy Olson, a Michigan State University doctoral student. Olson used an algorithm to generate the map, factoring in logistics for traffic, turns, and alternate routes.

Even though the route isn't technically "perfect", it's about as close as the curious adventurer can get to the most efficient roadmap across America. [Click here to enlarge the map]

All of the stops are in the Continental United States, which is ideal for traveling by car. The route can be started from any state and would be 9.33 days worth of driving. Olson reassures that, in actuality, the round trip would take around 2-3 months including stops at gas stations. You'll hit New York City and New England, looping down along the southeast coast and through the South before looping up towards Canada to hit big cities on your way back. There are certain notable spots you'll miss along the trip like Atlanta or Chicago but you won't feel like you're missing out because of everything else included along the way.

Staedter handpicked the stops, which she thinks provide a "nice mix of history and natural wonder". Sounds like the perfect combination for the spirited traveler. It's time to save some money, pick some playlists, and hit the road on this must-see long-distance trip.

Here are the 50 landmark stops she picked along her road trip route:

  1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  3. Craters of the Moon, Idaho 
  4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  5. Pikes Peak, Colorado
  6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  7. The Alamo, Texas
  8. The Platt Historic District, Oklahoma
  9. Toltec Mounds, Arkansas
  10. Elvis Presley's Graceland, Tennessee 
  11. Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi
  12. French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana 
  13. USS Alabama, Alabama 
  14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 
  15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, Georgia
  16. Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina
  17. Lost World Caverns, West Virginia 
  18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, North Carolina
  19. Mount Vernon, Virginia
  20. White House, Washington, DC
  21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, Maryland
  22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware
  23. Cape May Historic District, New Jersey
  24. Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania
  25. Statue of Liberty, New York
  26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, Connecticut
  27. The Breakers, Rhode Island
  28. USS Constitution, Massachusetts 
  29. Acadia National Park, Maine
  30. Mount Washington Hotel, New Hampshire 
  31. Shelburne Farms, Vermont
  32. Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan
  33. Spring Grove Cemetery, Ohio
  34. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky 
  35. West Baden Springs Hotel, Indiana 
  36. Abraham Lincoln's Home, Illinois 
  37. Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri
  38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, Kansas
  39. Terrace Hill Governor's Mansion, Iowa
  40. Taliesin, Wisconsin 
  41. Fort Snelling, Minnesota
  42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, Nebraska 
  43. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
  44. Fort Union Trading Post, North Dakota
  45. Glacier National Park, Montana
  46. Hanford Site, Washington
  47. Columbia River Highway, Oregon
  48. San Francisco Cable Cars, California 
  49. San Andreas Fault, California
  50. Hoover Dam, Nevada

Olson also created a bonus map that hits all of the major U.S. cities, for those craving even more travel.

Read More: Map Shows the Ultimate U.S. National Park Road Trip

This post was originally published on July 24, 2017.