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‘Optimal’ US road trip leaves something to be desired in Washington

Randy Olson sees data. He’s a PhD candidate in Michigan State University’s Computer Science program, and in his spare time he blogs about visualizing data.

In early March, Olson got together with Discovery News to use one of his algorithms to compute the optimal road trip across the U.S.

There were a few rules:

The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S.
The trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments.
The trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S.

But at a glance, it felt like something was missing from the map. Of all the beautiful sites to see in Washington, the algorithm chose the Hanford Plant, the decommissioned nuclear production complex that’s now open for tours.

When the trip includes the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and the White House, Hanford feels like an afterthought.

Where do you think the ultimate road trip should stop in Washington?

Read about the optimal road trip across the U.S., here.

About the Author

Alyssa Kleven

Alyssa Kleven is an editor and content producer at She enjoys doting over her adorable dachshund Winnie - named for Arcade Fire front-man Win Butler.


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