The Most Efficient Route Through the Lower 48

Mar 22, 2015 View Comments by

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 10.22.18 AMMost touring motorcyclists have at least thought about how great it would be to take an extended tour of the United States hitting as many major landmarks along the way as possible. But how would you map out such a massive trip? Well, as motorcyclists we are naturally attracted to curvy and scenic roads, which generally aren’t ideal for traveling long distances quickly. Still, there’s an undeniable appeal in a route that encompasses a multitude of iconic American destinations—even if it involves a lot of highway miles.

Recently we came across an article by Tracy Staedter on the Discovery Channel’s website discussing just such a route. But Tracy didn’t just come up with a list of destinations and draw straight lines between them she went a step further. She turned to Randy Olsen, a doctoral student at Michigan State and expert in writing algorithms to come up with a computer algorithm to find the most efficient route between 50 landmarks in all 48 contiguous states. The result is the map you see above.

For car drivers, this may be the ultimate U.S. road trip, motorcyclists, however, would no doubt wish for a less direct path in favor of more enjoyable tarmac. Still, even with this time and distance optimized map, the trip would take at least two months to complete (unless you like Iron Butts).

What do you think of the route? What would you change? What destinations did they leave out?


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