In honour of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday, Randy Olson, a senior data scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, used the traveling salesman algorithm and Google Maps to connect all 47 national parks in the contiguous U.S. into one magnificent adventure.
The United States national park system consists of 59 protected areas across the U.S. that are managed by the U.S. National Park Service. Many of the national parks are known for their natural beauty, unique geological features, unusual ecosystems, and/or recreational opportunities, which makes them ideal spots to visit if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
According to Olson, 12 of the national parks are in Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories, which can make them difficult to drive to unless you have a flying car. Thus for the road trip, he focused on the national parks that span the 48 contiguous states in the mainland United States. That limitation leaves us 47 national parks, which should be plenty for one road trip (or more).
The trip, which optimises the amount of time it would take to go from one park to the next, covers a whopping 14,498 miles of road and should take about two months to cover, depending on your pace.
For all you coding geeks out there looking to make adjustments to the proposed itinerary, the original source code can be found here. So what are you waiting for (besides the next time you can take leave from work)? Get traveling!
*To support Dr. Randy Olson’s patreon so that he’ll keep sharing more amazing road trips like this, you can pledge your support to his work here.
Source: Randy Olson