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 Beer in Each State, Mapped

DavidPrahl/iStock via Getty Images
DavidPrahl/iStock via Getty Images

In case you were unaware: September 7 is Beer Lovers Day. While Americans hardly need a good reason to throw back a cold one, that there's an entire day dedicated to our favorite sudsy beverage makes it taste that much better. But do regional flavors impact beer preferences? That's the question VinePair, a site dedicated to our love of adult beverages, sought to answer when it created a map to find each state's favorite brand of beer. Or, at least, most states.

Though they were only able to gather data from 35 states, 22 of those states chose Bud Light as their favorite brew, making it the hands-down winner. Coors Light came out on top in three states (the mid-Atlantic region seems to enjoy the Silver Bullet) while New Glarus Brewing Company’s Spotted Cow Ale, a Wisconsin-produced beer, is the favorite brand of—you guessed it—Wisconsinites.

Does your state’s most popular beer brand match your personal preference? Check out the full map below, or visit VinePair to read more.

Get Excited for Fall With This Interactive Peak Foliage Map

Kirkikis/iStock via Getty Images
Kirkikis/iStock via Getty Images

The season of scarves, sweaters, and pumpkin spice everything is almost upon us. No matter how you feel about the end of summer, it's hard not appreciate the colorful foliage when it reaches its peak in autumn. Those red, orange, and gold leaves may be visible outside your window sooner than you think; the interactive map below from SmokyMountains.com shows you exactly when to expect them.

Fall foliage normally peaks sometime after the autumnal equinox, which falls on September 23 in 2019, but exactly when depends on variables like rainfall and temperature. Each year, the tourism website SmokyMountains.com looks at weather forecasts and historical trends from NOAA and puts together an interactive map showing when foliage is predicted peak across contiguous U.S.

Warmer temperatures have led to peak foliage occurring later in the season. In 2019, Northern New England, a place famous for its leaf-peeping, will see the brightest leaves around October 5. Peak foliage won't reach the rest of New England until October 12. Around October 26, parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, and Illinois will be treated to the most spectacular leaves of the season, and in Southern states like South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, peak foliage won't begin until November 9. By November 30, the fall foliage will have passed its peak everywhere but along the Gulf coast.

By sliding the scale beneath the map, you can see when foliage is expected to peak in your part of the of the country. You can also use the tool to plan trips around the changing leaves.

"We believe this interactive tool will enable travelers to take more meaningful fall vacations, capture beautiful fall photos, and enjoy the natural beauty of autumn," Wes Melton, the site's data scientist and CTO, said in a statement. "Our nationwide fall foliage prediction map is unique—it is one of the only fall leaf tools that provides accurate predictions for the entire continental United States."

If you can't pick just one destination to take in the foliage this fall, you don't have to—a train ride or a road trip are some of the best ways to see as much of it as possible.

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