An Alaska-based climatologist and mapmaker has drafted what could possibly be the best routes to roadtrip across the United States. His map follows 70 degree temperatures (or as close as possible) around the country, making for a trip where travelers can enjoy springlike weather throughout the whole trip.
Using weather and climate data, Brian Brettschneider, a researcher for the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, drafted a 13,909-mile road trip that takes travelers through 26 states (including Alaska) and six Canadian provinces, and follows the best odds of encountering temperatures from 69 to 71 degrees as the route shifts south to north, and then south again.
“I’m always playing with different ways to visualize climate data,” Brettschneider told weather.com. “I was making an animation of how high temperatures progress throughout the year, and I noticed there was always someplace that was right around 70 degrees somewhere in the U.S. throughout the entire course of the year.”
That realization got Brettschneider mapping. For the U.S., he used data from the National Center for Environmental Information, which every 10 years publishes new data on climate normals for thousands of locations around the country. He calculated the approximate normals for Canada himself, as the published normal temperatures weren’t as up to date as in the U.S.
Neither he, nor anyone, to his knowledge, has followed the entire year-long route, but several people have driven portions of it, or mentioned that they plan to follow the map after they retire.
The trip starts in San Diego Jan. 1 and heads toward Phoenix before moving on to El Paso. Spring is spent driving through the Southwest and Southern Plains and into Appalachia, then through the heartland and Midwest before crossing the border into Canada, hitting Winnipeg and Edmonton as summer approaches.
Then comes the tough part. Travelers will have to drive more than 100 miles per day on average in June through Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and the Yukon before average temperatures rise above 70 degrees, for a total of 3,424 miles, ending up in Fairbanks, Alaska, by the end of the month.
The drive then heads south again, spending six months trekking through the Rockies, the Four Corners and heading southeast into Florida.
Brettschneider even created shorter paths for those who want to stick to the Lower 48, both of which are under 8,000 miles.
Travelers who want to stick to the Lower 48 can choose either Brettschneider’s longer, coastal route (in blue) or the shorter, interior route (in red).
The 7,468-mile U.S.-only route begins the year in Tampa and makes for a slow drive up the East Coast, ending up in Boston in late spring. The map then turns west, heading toward the Great Lakes and through the Upper Midwest through the summer and on to the Pacific Northwest for August and September and heading south into the Four Corners in autumn and on to the Desert Southwest as winter approaches.
A shorter (7,064-mile) more interior route begins in Texas and then heads north through the Plains to trace the Canadian border in summer, then turns southward to meander the Rockies before heading into the Southwest and ending in the Desert Southwest just as the first does.
This is Brettschneider’s second iteration of this project, as he first came up with the idea in 2015, and used climate data from 1981 through 2010. This year, he updated the map routes, using climate data from 1991 through 2020. He says that while temperatures have changed due to climate change, the differences aren’t extremely evident between the 2015 map and the 2023 map.
“Over decades, if I do this every 10 years; if I live long enough to do it five or six times, the changes will become much more noticeable,” he explained.