Map of ultimate National Park Road Trip

Dr. Randal Olson, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by creating a map for the shortest possible road trip that stops at all 47 national parks in the contiguous United States. This excludes the 12 national parks located in Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories.

In his blog, Dr. Olson shares details about the creation of this optimal route:

“In total, this road trip spans 14,498 miles (23,333 km) of road and will take roughly two months to fully enjoy, depending on your pace. I’ve designed this road trip to form a circle around the U.S., so you can hop on at any point and proceed in whichever direction you prefer. Just make sure to follow the agenda from that point on if you want to stick to the optimal route!”

To start your adventure, simply pick the park closest to you and begin from there. Here are all the stops in order:

  1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  2. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  3. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  4. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  5. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  6. Big Bend National Park, Texas
  7. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
  8. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
  9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
  10. Everglades National Park, Florida
  11. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
  12. Biscayne National Park, Florida
  13. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
  14. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  15. Acadia National Park, Maine
  16. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  17. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
  18. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  19. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
  20. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  21. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  22. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  23. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
  24. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
  25. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  26. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  27. Arches National Park, Utah
  28. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  29. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  30. Zion National Park, Utah
  31. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
  32. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  33. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  34. Glacier National Park, Montana
  35. North Cascades National Park, Washington
  36. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  37. Olympic National Park, Washington
  38. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  39. Redwood National and State Parks, California
  40. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  41. Yosemite National Park, California
  42. Kings Canyon National Park, California
  43. Sequoia National Park, California
  44. Pinnacles National Park, California
  45. Channel Islands National Park, California
  46. Joshua Tree National Park, California
  47. Death Valley National Park, California

By following this route, you can experience the beauty and diversity of America’s national parks in the most efficient way possible. Happy travels!

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