We often claim to be in the middle of nowhere, but pinpointing the location of nowhere is easier said than done. I’ve attempted to show where, in the contiguous United States, would most appropriate...
ly be defined as nowhere, both on land and in the air.
For the land map, I’ve used a database of all major roads, which includes interstate routes, U.S. routes, state routes, and other large roads/highways. The air map was derived using a database of all airports in the U.S., which includes commercial, private, cargo, military, etc. The GIS measures the Euclidean distance within the map projection from every cell, as defined by the raster resolution (~500 meters), to the closest feature in the shapefile (database). The resulting maps have been scaled to show when you are close to a feature (somewhere) in blue, and when you are far away (nowhere) in red.
By land, the areas that are nowhere are central Idaho (mostly National Forest), NW Arizona (Grand Canyon), the intersection of Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada (nothing there), and NW Maine (a bunch of lakes). The Maine location would not be considered nowhere if I had included Canadian roads, as there are major roads extending from nearby Quebec City that come close to the border. Amazingly, there are some relatively large states (e.g. Ohio) that are completely dark blue, where you are never more than a few miles from the closest major road.
By air, the regions where you wouldn’t want to need to make an emergency landing are mostly in Nevada and Wyoming, with a bit of nowhere sprinkled across the other Mountain States. Again, Maine has a bit of nowhere, but it would be somewhere if Canadian airports were considered.
So the next time you take a trip, bring along these maps and then you can figure out whether you are, in fact, stuck in the middle of nowhere.
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