Mapped: The optimal road trip to see all the US national parks

RANDY OLSON, a Computer Science & Engineering Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University, is a man who likes to design road trips. He has previously organized the ultimate US road trip and the best cross-Canada journey and, this time, Olson created an itinerary that would allow travelers to see every single national park in the 48 contiguous states without wasting any time.

national-parks-us-road-trip

Map: Randy Olson

The road trip Olson designed is 14,498 miles long and it would take you about two months to complete the loop if you’re going “at a breakneck speed.” In other words, you’d better take a few months off work before getting on the road.

Here’s a list of all the national parks Olson included in his itinerary. Note that you can start the trip at any stop in the loop.

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  • Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  • Big Bend National Park, Texas
  • Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
  • Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
  • Everglades National Park, Florida
  • Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
  • Biscayne National Park, Florida
  • Congaree National Park, South Carolina
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  • Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
  • Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  • Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  • Zion National Park, Utah
  • Great Basin National Park, Nevada
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • North Cascades National Park, Washington
  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  • Olympic National Park, Washington
  • Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  • Redwood National and State Parks, California
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  • Yosemite National Park, California
  • Kings Canyon National Park, California
  • Sequoia National Park, California
  • Pinnacles National Park, California
  • Channel Islands National Park, California
  • Joshua Tree National Park, California
  • Death Valley National Park, California

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