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Thread: Shortest route through all 48 States?

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    Curvy Road Shortest route through all 48 States?

    I know that there a lot of folk out there who have done rides to connect all of the 48 Lower states -- but has anyone done any research on, or seen any websites discussing, the shortest possible route that touches on every one of the 48?

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    Many Miles Away Helmetdance's Avatar
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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    You have touched upon a very popular problem in mathematics, commonly known as the "Traveling Salesman Problem". Do a search on Google on Traveling Salesman Problem and you will find more information on this than you ever wanted to know. This is a non-deterministic problem as an infinite number of solutions are possible. However, since there are a finite set of roads one can realistically travel by vehicle, one can narrow down the set of possible solutions. Here is the 49-city solution from 1954, a large scale traveling salesman problem: http://www.cse.wustl.edu/~chen/7102/TSP.pdf.

    Here is the order of cities in the 1954 solution, which covers 49 cities in the lower 48 states in a distance of 12,345 miles. Note that this solution was determined prior to completion of the Interstates, so a better solution may be out there now:

    1. Manchester, NH
    2. Montpelier, VT
    3. Detroit, MI
    4. Cleveland, OH
    5 Charleston, WV
    6. Louisville, KY
    7. Indianapolis, IN
    8. Chicago, IL
    9. Milwaukee, WI
    10 Minneapolis, MN
    11. Pierre, SD
    12. Bismarck, ND
    13 Helena, MT
    14 Seattle, WA
    15. Portland, OR
    16. Boise, ID
    17. Salt Lake City, UT
    18 Carson City, NV
    19 Los Angeles, CA
    20 Phoenix, AZ
    21. Santa Fe, NM
    22 Denver, CO
    23. Cheyenne, WY
    24 Omaha, NB
    25. Des Moines, IA
    26. Kansas City, MO
    27. Topeka, KA
    28 Oklahoma City, OK
    29. Dallas, TX
    30. Little Rock, AR
    31. Memphis, TN
    32 Jackson, MS
    33 New Orleans, LA
    34 Birmingham, AL
    35. Atlanta, GA
    36. Jacksonville, FL
    37. Columbia, SC
    38 Raleigh, NC
    39. Richmond, VA
    40. Washington, D. C.
    41. Boston, MA
    42. Portland, ME
    A. Baltimore, MD
    B Wilmington, DE
    C Philadelphia, PA
    D. Newark, NJ
    E New York, NY
    F Hartford, CT
    G. Providence, RI

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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    Thanks HD,

    I had heard reference to the travelling salesman conundrum; thanks for the link explaining it.

    For the sake of a motorcycle trip whose only goal was to touch upon every state, then the parameters of the challenge become a lot more forgiving -- as the goal moves from 'visit every one of these cities' to 'touch upon, at any point whatsoever, each of these states'.

    Which is illustrated by how, using simple map software, a friend of mine has already come up with a route that is about four thousand miles shorter than the 1954 solution.

    Has anyone here read of anyone seeking out the shortest possible route to connect any part of all 48 states?

    br

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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    Do you have a preferred start/end point since it looks like you might be flying in from overseas?

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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    I will be flying in from overseas, but the journey/goal is such that the start and end point will not really matter. Whatever route can allow me to reach, however briefly, every state in absolutely the fewest number of road miles possible, will dictate the start and end points.

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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    ...follow the truckers?
    I think some of the mapping software allows you to set 'shortest route' when you do an automatic trip plan.

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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    found this through searching 48 States in 48 Days Don't know if it's the shortest trip, but if I were doing one city a day, it would have to be the shortest route. Good luck.

    Cities in Trip:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Atlanta, GA
    Atlantic City, NJ
    Baltimore, MD
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Bloomington, MN
    Boise, ID
    Burbank, CA
    Burlington, VT
    Cambridge, MA
    Charleston, SC
    Charleston, WV
    Charlotte, NC
    Chicago, IL
    Cleveland, OH
    Concord, NH
    Dallas, TX
    Denver, CO
    Des Moines, IA
    Fargo, ND
    Gatlinburg, TN
    Grand Canyon, AZ
    Houston, TX
    Huntsville, AL
    Jackson, MS
    Keystone, SD
    Las Vegas, NV
    Los Angeles, CA
    Louisville, KY
    Mackinac Island, MI
    Memphis, TN
    Miami, FL
    Michigan City, IN
    Milwaukee, WI
    New Haven, CT
    New Orleans, LA
    New York City, NY
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Omaha, NE
    Philadelphia, PA
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Portland, ME
    Portland, OR
    Providence, RI
    Salt Lake City, UT
    San Francisco, CA
    Seattle, WA
    St Louis, MO
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Washington, DC
    West Glacier, MT
    Wichita, KS
    Wilmington, DE
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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    I have a route which I've designed over a few weeks. It is 7,193 miles. It does not end at the starting point.

    For someone designing a route, I'd suggest picking any point on the inside boundary of all the outside states. Then work to just touch the states inside this. Then keep at it for a few weeks and the plan will become clear. Try to find the longest leg that can be deleted and use what's left.

    Streets and Trips is my favorite program for doing this.

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    Super Member bosozoku's Avatar
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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShACEdow View Post
    ...follow the truckers?
    I think some of the mapping software allows you to set 'shortest route' when you do an automatic trip plan.
    The problem with shortest preferred routes for trucking pathways is that they're limited by road load limits (little bridges are a big no-no), and there are similar problems with overhead clearances along the way.


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    Re: Shortest route through all 48 States?

    The problem with mapping software is it can't tell you what the starting and ending points are for each leg. That comes through a process of cutting the route a little shorter while at the same time making sure it also takes less time.

    Given that it's easier to edit than invent, the easiest way is to just pick any route and then whittle it down a little at a time. Another important factor is not to add too much complexity so one gets lost trying to make all the turns.

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