Special Report

The Middle of Nowhere in Every State

Detailed Findings

The middle of nowhere is harder to find in the Eastern United States, the oldest-settled part of the country. Three of the smallest states — Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — have the shortest travel time from their most remote area to the nearest city. Connecticut’s travel time — measured by foot, boat, car, or plane — is the shortest, 52 minutes.

Because of technological advances such as global positioning systems and multi-dimensional maps, remote areas are getting more difficult to find in the United States. According to data compiled by online statistics portal Statista, the population density of the United States in 1790 — when Daniel Boone roamed the American frontier — was 4.5 people per square mile. In 2017, the nation’s population density was about 92.2 people per square mile.

The last two states admitted to the Union — Alaska and Hawaii — have the longest travel time of any state in the country from their middle of nowhere to a city. The time to travel from Alaska’s Amatignak Island in the Aleutian Islands to the nearest city is more than 84 hours. Laysan in Hawaii is more than 80 hours from the closest city.

Many of the areas on this list are in mountainous or desert regions, whose terrain has to be traversed on foot and where there are few roads. These regions create challenges for adventurous hikers, but they most likely cannot sustain human habitation.

Other remote areas in the United States are in forests, wildlife preserves, swamps, shorelines, and wetlands. Most of these areas remain unspoiled because of government land-use dictates, and therefore they will likely stay remote.

To identify the middle of nowhere in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the predicted travel time in minutes to the nearest city from millions of locations across the United States. The data were obtained from “A Global Map of Travel Time to Cities to Assess Inequalities in Accessibility in 2015”, published Jan. 10, 2018 in the International Journal of Science Nature.
Researchers used a geospatial model that estimated travel times from points around the world to urban centers, taking into account various modes of transportation, terrain, the quality of transportation infrastructure, and other factors affecting human movement rates.

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