In August 2016, the National Park Service celebrates their 100th year of managing the United States’ system of beautiful national parks. So what’s a better way to celebrate 100 years of stewardship than to visit all of the national parks in one epic road trip?
If you’ve followed my blog for the past year or so, you’ll know that I’ve made a hobby of optimizing various road trips around the U.S., so I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity to optimize yet another road trip.
U.S. National Parks
If you’re unfamiliar with the U.S. national park system, it consists of 59 protected areas across the U.S. that are managed by the U.S. National Park Service. Many of the national parks are known for their natural beauty, unique geological features, unusual ecosystems, and/or recreational opportunities, which makes them ideal spots to visit if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. [NPS]
Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park. [NPS]
Visit Yellowstone and experience the world’s first national park. Marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers. Explore mountains, forests, and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold. Discover the history that led to the conservation of our national treasures “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” [NPS]
12 of the national parks are in Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories, which can make them difficult to drive to unless you have a flying car. Thus for road trip, we’re going to focus on the national parks that span the 48 contiguous states in the mainland United States. Don’t worry: that limitation still leaves us 47 national parks, which should be plenty for one road trip.
The optimal road trip to the U.S. National Parks
In total, this road trip spans 14,498 miles (23,333 km) of road and will take roughly 2 months if you’re traveling at a breakneck 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 whatever direction you like. Just make sure to follow the agenda from that point on if you want to follow the optimal route!
Click here for an interactive version
Here’s the Google Maps for the full trip: 
Here’s the full list of national parks in order:
- 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
Want to make your own road trip?
If you like the idea of taking an optimal road trip but don’t like the locations I chose, don’t fret: you can make your own road trip!
This time around, I used the Gurobi TSP solver to optimize this road trip. Check out Nathan Brixius’ blog post to learn how to make your own, or check out my alternative methods to optimizing road trips using Python and Google Maps.
If Python coding is beyond you, there are web sites like RouteXL.com that will do it for you. They optimize road trips with up to 20 stops for free, and 20+ stops for a nominal fee.
Happy road tripping!
Tagged with: Gurobi, machine learning, optimization, road trip, traveling salesman problem
Want to learn some simple psychology tricks?
These tricks will help you in an incredible number of areas within self-improvement, including communication, first impressions, ability to get ahead, gaining attraction and admiration etc.
And yet, they’re so easy to implement within everyday life.
Each one of these tricks takes seconds to implement, so as long as you can remember them, you’re good to go.
20 Simple Psychology Tricks
We’ve put together this awesome compilation of 20 psychological tricks and tips that’ll work on any of the people you meet in daily life. Isn’t that pretty cool?
The best part of this is that you can immediately start testing them out for yourself.
Here are the top 20 best psychology tricks:
20. Getting Information
If you have a friend that struggles to open up to you, tell you how their feeling, or even give you simple information; this trick is a perfect way to get that information out of them in full detail.
Ask them a question, and if they respond partially, or it feels like they’re hiding something, simply keep eye contact and remain silent for a few seconds.
The silence combined with eye contact will make them uncomfortable. They’ll do anything to break this tension, even if that means giving you the information they were holding back.
So remain silent for a few seconds, and they will most likely continue to talk.
19. The Snack-man
If you are in a group of people, or even just with one other person, and you feel like conflict is about to break out, try this.
People who are eating usually feel comfortable within their environment. Eating is a calming activity, and will likely help to smooth out conflict.
If someone is angry with you and you start to eat, this will help keep conflict at bay. This fact was originally discovered after two people were fighting and one guy stepped in between them whilst eating a slice of pizza.
He was coined the snack-man.
18. The Stalker Detector
Do you ever get that feeling like somebody’s eyes are on you and they’re intently watching you? Maybe you can feel somebody’s stare on the back of your head?
If you want to find out whether or not they were watching you, try this simple psychology trick:
Make sure they can see you when you yawn. After you yawn, turn and look at them. If they’re now yawning, you know that they were watching you. This is because yawning is contagious.
Try it… watch a video of someone yawning, and see if you do the same. In fact, even while writing this section of the article, I’m finding myself yawn uncontrollably.
This is a great trick for anybody who wants to find out if someone is showing an interest in them, like a crush or so on.
17. Destroying Ear-Worms
Ever had a song stuck inside your head?
I know you have…
The melody just keeps replaying over and over inside your mind, but you can’t quite seem to remember which song it is! And while you can’t remember, you keep trying to remember. Which leads to you wasting a huge amount of time trying to remember the name of something incredibly pointless.
Well, here’s the common psychology trick you’ve been waiting your entire life to hear.
Think of the end of the song. Not the beginning, or the middle. The end. Your mind will continue to think of things that are unfinished or incomplete, according to the Zeignark effect.
Therefore if you think of the end of the melody, the song will be complete and your mind will reset. This’ll release the song from your mind, so you can get back to focusing on something productive.
16. Always Agreeable
Want people to agree with what you’re saying?
All you have to do is start nodding whilst you’re saying the thing you want the person to agree with.
The “nodding” action makes the person start to believe what you’re saying is actually true, and therefore they will most likely begin to nod as well, and agree with you.
This can work in certain situations where you might need to make a good impression on someone, but don’t get greedy. This won’t work on everyone.