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What Is The Longest Road In America?

The next time you’re thinking about taking a vacation, consider packing a few sandwiches, rolling down the windows, and heading off down historic U.S. Route 20 for an epic road trip. It’s America’s longest highway and packed with beautiful sights and interesting attractions.

How long is US Route 20?

Photo Only In Your State
Photo Only In Your State

The official length of US Route 20 is 3,365 miles.

In 1989, the Federal Highway Administration published a listing of all the United States Highways. This listing gave the mileage through each state and it was determined that US 20 was 3,365 miles long in 1989 - the longest highway in the United States.

What is the length in 2020?

The official length in 2020 is slightly shorter than the 3,365 miles. Many projects have happened in the past 30+ years to adjust the length of the highway - in many instances straightening and shortening many segments. An official number has not been published by the Federal Highway Administration.

The Historic Route 20 Association used Google Maps to calculate the entire historic route across the United States. This is for the drivable sections. We came up with 3,349 miles. If we wanted to achieve the 3,365 miles, we could assume a 24 foot per mile error in measuring. We did use a zoomed out map and could not account for every inch of curve in the highway and also did not measure several abandoned segments. Therefore, we adjusted the mileage accordingly to reflect the official 3,365 miles to make things "official".

The Historic Eastern Terminus is at the Massachusetts State House - 2 miles east of Kenmore Square (1926-1940)

Moved to Kenmore Square in 1963 after being aligned on Comm Ave to the Public Garden at Arlington St.

The Western Terminus of Route 20 was at East Entrance Yellowstone NP (1926-1940)

US Route 20 was extended to Newport, Oregon in 1943

What is the length of Route 20 in each State?

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Massachusetts - 154 miles

New York - 376 miles

Pennsylvania - 47 miles

Ohio - 259 miles

Indiana - 154 miles

Illinois - 196 miles

Iowa - 333 miles

Nebraska - 440 miles

Wyoming - 525 miles

Montana - 12 miles

Idaho - 418 miles

Oregon - 451 miles

Is yellowstone National Park included in the number?

While it has been official policy with the Federal Highway Administration to not number US Route 20 through Yellowstone National Park and the listing from 1989 has Route 20 in two segments - the 3,365 miles had to have included the 92 miles through Yellowstone National Park.

Where is the Middle of US Route 20?

Based on our calculations, the middle of the highway is 2.3 miles East of Newport, Nebraska.

Aren't Other Highways Longer?

The claim "America's Longest Highway" refers to the current and active US Highway system as defined by the Federal Highway Administration. Yes, other highways were longer:

Lincoln Highway - 3389 miles- circa 1912

US Route 6 - 3,652 miles- circa 1953

Route 66 - 2448 miles - circa 1985

Interstate 90 - 3020 miles - present

The Lincoln Highway is now a historic auto trail highway. Its alignments are signed and promoted by various organizations and is not an official US highway.

US Route 6 was decommissioned in most of California in 1965 ending now in Bishop- cutting its overall length significantly, boosting US Route 20 to the top.

Driving Tips on US Route 20

Driving Time: 52-60 hours

Miles: 3365

Note that Route 20 is not considered an interstate, since it’s not a four-lane highway. So it’s not the longest interstate highway in America – that distinction belongs to I-90, which goes from Boston to Seattle and runs parallel to Route 20 across most of the country.

If you’re planning to drive all of Route 20, how much time do you need? Google Maps says the driving time is 52 hours. But with traffic and rest stops, figure more like 60 hours.

Once you factor in all the attractions and cities to visit along the way, you’d want a bare minimum of 12 days to make such a road trip. That’s an average of five hours of driving per day.

What can you see on the way?

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Route 20 passes through several big cities (Boston, Cleveland, Chicago) and a bunch of small towns through 12 states. For much of its path between the big cities, Route 20 is a quiet, two-lane road. Taking this road trip gives you a chance to see a great slice of America, from urban centers to rural areas to national parks like Yellowstone!

Route 20 will take you through a few of the most dramatic national parks in America

If you’re headed west, the first park you’ll encounter is Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which is famed for its stunning waterfront and rolling dunes. The highway will also take you to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and through the surreal landscapes of Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Technically, the highway ends at the eastern entrance of Yellowstone and restarts at the western entrance, but this is only because numbered highways are not designated within national parks.

Route 20 will take you through some of the most historic and fascinating cities in America

You’ll start off in Boston and travel west through Albany, New York, passing through places like Toledo, Chicago, Gary, Casper, Sioux City, and Boise. Route 20 is a great path to travel if you’re interested in hitting as many urban attractions on your road trip as possible.

But the route will also take you through countless "frozen in time" small towns.

Be prepared to drive through an endless array of small towns with Main Streets that seem stuck in another age. Many spots look almost exactly as they did in the 1950s, like charming Cherry Valley in New York.

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