This Road Trip Expert Has Plotted Your Perfect Path Through Every National Park in the (Continental) US

Image Credit: Randall Olson

Road trip mastermind Randy Olson is back with the ultimate road trip through all 47 national parks located in the lower 48 states. National parks are restricted from development for the preservation or conservation of important land and/or animals, and have been set aside in the States since President Ulysses S. Grant granted Yellowstone the status on March 1, 1872.


The map is an ideal route that leaves out the 12 national parks in Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories (cause including them it becomes less of a road trip). As with his other maps Olson created this one by plugging the destinations into the Gurobi TSP solver. TSP – the Traveling Salesman Problem – calculates the shortest route between cities while making a loop that has you ending up back where you started.

Image Credit: Randall Olson

He used it to create the ultimate road trip across America, the optimal strategy for finding Waldo (lol), and the ultimate Euro-trip that hits major European monuments.


For this one, Olson suggests setting aside at least 2 months to enjoy the 14,500 miles of driving and all of the sites along the way. Since the route goes in a circle, you can begin at any point you want and find your way back home.


If you’re a national parks enthusiast, you’re going to geek out from the Cascades all the way to the Dry Tortugas, and, for bonus material, the site also points out stops for hundreds of monuments, battlefields, and historic sites you’ll want to check out along the way.


Check out the “Optimal U.S. National Parks Centennial Road Trip” map if this sounds like something calling your name, and make sure to Instagram your trip – I want to see it!