McFarthest in the Lower 48 – Map of McDonald Locations

Caitlin Dempsey

Updated:

Looking for a fascinating map of McDonalds locations within the United States?

Stephen Von Worley had a contemplative moment while on a car trip down Interstate 5 in California during which he stumbled upon a country strip mall located in the middle of nowhere, complete with the golden arches that are a too frequent reminder of how far reaching chain fast foods stores are in the United States.  

Von Worley wanted to understand just exactly how widespread the proliferation of McDonald’s is as he sought the answer to “just how far away can you get from our world of generic convenience?

Mapping Every McDonald’s Restaurant in the Contiguous United States

Armed with 13,000+ locations covering every McDonalds in the continental United States from AggData, Von Worley mapped out all of the McDonald’s symbolized by their distances from the nearest McDonald’s.


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So what did Von Worley discover about his map of McDonalds in the Lower 48 states?

As expected, McDonald’s cluster at the population centers and hug the highway grid.  East of the Mississippi, there’s wall-to-wall coverage, except for a handful of meager gaps centered on the Adirondacks, inland Maine, the Everglades, and outlying West Virginia.

For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map: the barren deserts of central Nevada, the arid hills of southeastern Oregon, the rugged wilderness of Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains, and the conspicuous well of blackness on the high plains of northwestern South Dakota.  There, in a patch of rolling grassland, loosely hemmed in by Bismarck, Dickinson, Pierre, and the greater Rapid City-Spearfish-Sturgis metropolitan area, we find our answer.

~ Stephen McWorley

Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald’s, as the crow flies, and 145 miles by car!

In an update to the map analysis in September of 2010, the farthest spot for a McDonalds to be located, which Von Worley nickname, McFarthest changed from a spot in South Dakota to an area in the Nevada desert.  This isolated location is now 115 miles away (as the crow flies) from the nearest McDonalds.

In a second update published on January 7, 2019, McWorley reports that the farthest McDonalds restaurant from another McDonald’s in the USA has moved again. The honor now goes to a McDonald’s on BLM land in Tonopah, Nevada.

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This article was originally written September 23, 2009 and has since been updated.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.