Here's The Farthest You'll Ever Be From A McDonald's

Depending on where you live in the U.S., it can sometimes feel like you can't drive more than a few blocks in any direction without seeing a McDonald's. While it's not the fast food chain with the most locations nationwide (that distinction belongs to Subway), with 13,367 American locations and counting, the Golden Arches is certainly ubiquitous.

In fact, there is only one U.S. state capital that doesn't have a McDonald's: the sleepy hamlet of Montpelier, Vermont, population approximately 7,500 (per Reader's Digest). While a glance at the McDonald's store locator map reveals that the restaurants are primarily clustered in the eastern half of the country, California takes the crown for the most McDonald's store locations of any state, with 1,191 of them.

So, just what is the farthest you can ever be in the lower 48 states from this seemingly omnipresent hamburger franchise? One intrepid data software engineer and writer named Stephen Von Worley set out to find the answer to this bizarre restaurant fact query.

The 'McFarthest' distance from a McDonald's is 120 miles

Von Worley devised the idea to investigate the farthest distance between two McDonald's points while driving on a road trip down Interstate 5 in California — which is, as mentioned, the most McDonald's-rich state. When he came across a McDonald's along a deserted stretch of highway, he pondered the extent of the corporate giant's spread and decided to share his findings on Data Pointed in 2009. Examining just the lower 48 states, he mapped out their locations to determine the "McFarthest," as he phrased it, a person could get in the contiguous U.S. before getting to the next store. He identified the farthest distance between two McDonald's as that between two towns in South Dakota: Meadow and Glad Valley, 107 miles apart.

However, Von Worley has since updated his map analysis on two separate occasions. In 2010, he discovered a new McFarthest spot, situated in the middle of the stark Nevada desert 115 miles away from the nearest McDonald's. He updated the map again in 2019, pinpointing an area on Bureau of Land Management land near Tonopah, Nevada, 120 miles from the closest Mickey Dee's. In other words, to truly isolate yourself from McDonald's in America, you have to camp out in a barren desert in the middle of nowhere. (No, those aren't Golden Arches you're seeing on the horizon. It's just a mirage.)