Rider Destinations: 47 National Parks Road Trip

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Rider Destinations: 47 National Parks Road Trip

Looking to take the ultimate road trip this summer?

Dr. Randal Olson, data scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Parks Service by creating a map for the shortest possible road trip while stopping at all 47 national parks in the lower 48 states.

The National Park Service celebrates its birthday on 25 August. The body oversees more than 400 areas (e.g. national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails) in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Olson has developed what he calls the optimal route for visiting the parks in sequence.

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

Here are all the stops in order. Just pick the one closest to you and start there.
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

Click here for an interactive map.

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