The 10 Best & 10 Worst U.S. States to Visit on a Road Trip This Summer

Jul 3, 2015 by


If you’re one of the nearly 200 million Americans who are planning a road trip this summer, you’ll want to read this report.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Americans are itching to get away this summer, with 198 million people, about 85% of the population, planning a trip in the coming months. That’s an increase of 13 percent from last year. And nearly 90 percent of them will be getting away by car. And they are happy to be on the road for a longer time, willing to drive 80 miles farther on average (about 660 miles total) compared to 2014.

Are you one of these road warriors? Perhaps you want to visit one of Time Magazine’s “Top 50 American Roadside Attractions.” Or maybe you’re finally ready to make that most epic journey: The cross-country drive across America.

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The main this is that you’ve decided to hit the road. That’s the easy part. What’s more complicated is figuring out where to go, especially if you’re on a budget. To help cost-conscious road travelers get the most bang for the buck, WalletHub, a personal finance social network, compared the 50 U.S. states across 20 key metrics, including average gas prices, road quality weather conditions, lodging costs and number of attractions. Their analysis resulted in two lists: the best and worst states for summer road trips in 2015.

2015’s Best States for Summer Road Trips

  1. Oregon
  2. Nevada
  3. Minnesota
  4. Washington
  5. Ohio
  6. Utah
  7. Wyoming
  8. Colorado
  9. North Carolina
  10. Idaho

2015’s Worst States for Summer Road Trips

  1. Connecticut
  2. North Dakota
  3. Delaware
  4. Mississippi
  5. South Dakota
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Arkansas
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Michigan
  10. New Jersey

In the process, they also came across some key stats:

  • California has 22 times more scenic byways than Connecticut
  • The price of camping in Connecticut is double the price in Nevada
  • The price of a three-star hotel room in Hawaii is three times more expensive than in Arizona
  • Massachusetts has three times more fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled than Montana
  • California has eight times more car thefts per 100,000 residents than Vermont
  • Nevada has six times more nightlife options per 100,000 residents than New Jersey

One of America’s classic roadside attractions, Cadillac Ranch features 10 sets of graffiti-covered Cadillac tailfins sticking out of the ground, just west of Amarillo, Texas. (image: Edwin Verin/Shutterstock)

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For the full report and to see where your state ranks, visit:

Of course, all that driving this summer means a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average passenger car emits 411 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. So for an average 660-mile trip, that’s nearly 600 pounds of CO2. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to burning a single 75-watt incandescent bulb for two hours a day for more than eight years.

On a positive note, the amount of CO2 that cars emit will decrease slightly each year as emissions standards become more stringent, and as more people switch to electric vehicles. Though plug-in vehicles remain a small part of the auto industry, the numbers are increasing: Last year, sales increased by 23 percent compared to 2013 — a 128 percent jump from 2012.

Also, there are ways to make your car emit less, such a keeping your tires properly inflated, using the right motor oil and avoiding frequent speed changes (like sudden braking and accelerating).

RELATED: 8 Car Hacks for a Cheaper, Eco-Friendlier and More Patriotic Ride

In the late 1940s, novelist Jack Keruoac and poet Neal Cassady took several cross-country road trips, visiting Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Mexico City. These trips inspired Kerouac’s greatest work, On the Road. Even if your road trip doesn’t inspire the next great American novel, it can be a fun and cost-effective way to enjoy the summertime.

So keep your hands on the wheel, remember to pack the perfect road trip survival kit and relish the freedom and adventure of the open road. As Kerouac wrote in his Beat classic, “I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

Vroom vroom…



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Reynard Loki is AlterNet’s environment editor.

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