Road Trip Genius Calculates the Shortest Route Through 47 National Parks

Screenshot From Randalolson.com
Screenshot From Randalolson.com

The “Optimal U.S. National Parks Centennial Road Trip” map is the creation of road trip mastermind Randy Olson. The trip includes stops at all 47 national parks in mainland America (for the sake of practicality, the 12 national parks in Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories were left out).

Olson came up with the ideal route by plugging his destinations into the Gurobi TSP solver. TSP, or the Traveling Salesman Problem, refers to calculating the shortest route between a number of cities and ending up back where you started. It’s the same task he faced when creating the ultimate road trip across America and the optimal strategy for searching for Waldo.

To complete this latest trip, Olson suggests drivers set aside at least two months to fully take in the 14,500 miles worth of sites. It follows a circular route, so travelers can enter at any point they like from North Cascades in Washington to Dry Tortugas in Florida. For true NPS enthusiasts, this list is just the beginning: The service also includes hundreds of monuments, battlefields, and historic sites not included on the map.

The Most Popular Viral Video in Each State

GetCenturyLink
GetCenturyLink

Viral videos have been around long enough for some to be considered classics. For the map below, the internet service provider GetCenturyLink rounded up the most iconic YouTube videos from the platform's 13-year history and broke them down by state.

After making a list of the most popular viral videos from the classic YouTube era through today, analysts looked at Google Trends’s YouTube search data to see which videos were being watched the most in which parts of the country. The "Wedding Entrance Dance" video is the viral content with the most widespread appeal, dominating searches in 11 states. "Charlie Bit My Finger", the video on the map with the most overall views at 860 million, topped the list of favorite bits in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas. Meanwhile "Potter Puppet Pals" is the most beloved viral video in Utah, the state with highest percentage of Harry Potter fans based on how many residents like the Harry Potter Facebook page.

Many of the videos on this map were uploaded prior to 2010, but that doesn't mean the viral video is a fading art form. The YouTube landscape just looks slightly different than it did a decade ago, with ASMR and unboxing videos often topping the trending lists.

Before embarking on a nostalgia-field YouTube binge, check out the map below to find your state's favorite video.

Map of viral videos.
GetCenturyLink

Key for map of viral videos.
GetCenturyLink

Here's How Daylight Saving Time Affects Your Part of the Country

Andy Woodruff
Andy Woodruff

Daylight saving time was created to benefit Americans, but not every part of the country is affected equally. Within the Eastern time zone, for instance, the sun rises a whole 40 minutes earlier in New York City than it does in Detroit. To illustrate how daylight saving time impacts sunrise and sunset times around the county, cartographer Andy Woodruff published a series of helpful maps on his website.

Below, the map on the left depicts how many days of reasonable sunrise time—defined as 7 a.m. or earlier—each part of the country is getting. The regions in the yellow sections have the most days with early sunrises and the darker parts have the fewest. On the right, the second map shows how many sunsets past 5 p.m. we’re getting each year, which appear to be a lot more abundant

Next, he visualized what these sunrise and sunset times would look like if daylight saving were abolished completely, something many people have been pushing for years. While our sunset times remain pretty much the same, the mornings start to look a lot sunnier for people all over the country, especially in places like West Texas.

And for those of you who were curious, here’s what America would look like if daylight saving time were in effect year-round. While mornings would look miserable pretty much everywhere, there’d at least be plenty of sunshine to enjoy once we got off work.

You can tinker with an interactive version of the daylight saving map on Woodruff’s blog.

All images courtesy of Andy Woodruff.

This article originally ran in 2015.

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