Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez at Atlas Obscura have put together a gorgeous, interactive map of 12 great American literary roadtrips. From A Walk Across America to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, they’ve detailed each author’s route and each pit stop along the way:
The above map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel, from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012), and maps the authors’ routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer’s descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times.
Most interestingly of all, for me at least, you can ruminate about what those differences say about American travel, American writing, American history.
Fun fact: The one thing that all these roadtrips have in common is that none of them crossed into Arkansas.