The Ultimate, 13,699-Mile American Road Trip

Randy Olson's map to 50 landmarks across the lower 48 states.
Randy Olson's map to 50 landmarks across the lower 48 states. Google Maps

If you're planning a summer road trip and want to go big, a computer science Ph.D. candidate just mapped out the ultimate cross-country drive. You'll hit the biggest landmarks in all 48 states on a course that's absolutely as efficient as possible.

Discovery News reporter Tracey Staedter reached out to Michigan State doctoral student Randy Olson — who previously gave the world the ability to plot the perfect Where’s Waldo search path — to create an optimized road trip of 50 stops at national monuments and landmarks with the shortest distance between waypoints. The route allows you to start anywhere along the path and hits some of the best sites in the country: the Alamo in Texas, the French Quarter of New Orleans, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Wisconsin.

According to Olson’s calculations, the 13,699-mile route would take precisely 9.33 days of driving, but realistically would take two or three months to complete the journey with all the stops. Olson also produced a bonus map connecting the most popular cities to visit in the lower 48.