A Perfectly Planned Road Trip to Every National Park in the Continental U.S.


This has to be the most epic road trip of all time.

If you’ve ever tried to plan an itinerary for you and your crew's big road trip, you know it’s no easy task. Now, imagine trying to plan the most efficient route to drive to all 47 national parks in the the continental United States...

Photo: Randal Olson

That actually sounds like a fun challenge, right? But rather than spend hours pouring over maps, calculators, and computer screens, why don’t you trust someone who a. is probably smarter than you and b. has already done the leg work.

Hike to Bear Church Rock via Bootens Gap, Shenandoah NP | Photo: Christin Healey

Randal Olson, a data scientist and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, was inspired to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial by computing the optimal road trip stopping at all the national parks in the lower 48. It forms a ring around the country, making it easy for you to start at any given point and head in whichever direction you please.

Hike through Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood NP | Photo: Jake Young

Olson insists if you travel “at breakneck pace,” you can complete the whole trip in about two months...better start racking up your vacation days! Before you hit the road, explore Olson's interactive map and check out these tips from seasoned veterans.

Cover photo: Mike FennellCamp in Capitol Reef National Park

Published: August 23, 2016

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