Mikah Meyer wants to travel the U.S., and to do so, he’s teamed up with Adam Larsen to develop the ultimate road trip, one that covers all 375 National Parks in the lower 48 states.
To commemorate 100 years of the U.S. National Park service, earlier this month Randy Olsen used science to devise the shortest road trip that would visit all 47 national parks in the contiguous 48 states. The path takes around two months and spans 14,498 miles. Not bad, right?
But that wasn’t enough for Meyer and Larsen. Oh, no.
Revisiting the drawing board, they felt that Olsen’s map leaves out some pretty big landmarks. The parks cover some of the most gorgeous areas of North American scenery, like the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains. But sites like the Statue of Liberty and George Washington’s birthplace are also administered by the National Park service.
In all, the National Park Service has 412 sites across the country, including the 59 nationwide parks. Like Olsen, Meyer and Larsen dropped locations in Alaska and Hawaii, as they’re kind of hard to get to unless your car can swim. That leaves 375 stops, starting at the Washington Monument and ending at the Lincoln Memorial.
To avoid crashing browsers, Larsen has hosted the interactive map in 50-stop segments on his blog.
Larsen explained that unlike Olsen’s map, which used an algorithm to perfectly solve the route, the 375-stop map was solved with a combination of point-to-point problem solving, entered into Google Maps afterwards to get road directions. That means there may be some slight crisscrossing and less optimal routes, but it was an easier way of solving the route with a far greater number of points.
“Ideally, we would run Randy’s genetic algorithm over all 375 of the identified park unit locations,” Larsen said on his blog. “I tried it once, and it ran for 14 hours before failing.”
It’s fair to say that when it comes to national parks, Meyer knows his stuff. The 30-year-old is currently on a quest to visit all 412 national park sites to raise awareness for LGBT and youth involvement. Larsen, who assisted in creating the map, is also aiming to visit all 412 with his wife Danyel. Larsen and his wife have currently made it to 182.