Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

McFarthest Spot

The other day, after stumbling across a map that plots the distribution of McDonald’s fast food restaurants across the lower 48 United States, it hit me: objectively speaking, McDonald’s is bizarre.

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo burgers roam

Where the deer jerky and the antelope play

Back in the day, humans experimented in feeding themselves by roasting mastodon over an open flame, digging up starches and drawing straws to see which of the clan’s unlucky members would find out if that potato thing is poisonous. Fast forward a few centuries, and humanity has found itself in a situation waiting three minutes for a “Crave Case” packed with meat, tubers, and zots seems like an eternity. In the grand scheme of things, I find this about-face to be pretty impressive.

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day

Today the farthest one can get from a Mcdonalds, in the continental US at least, is the “McFarthest Spot” in South Dakota, which can be seen as the black area in the middle the above map. (The other black spots are either mountains, or government land.) You still aren’t very far, only 145 miles driving, roughly two and half hours by car, a day trip at worst.

More on the McFarthest Spot after the jump…

Since it’s not like I have a burning hatred for McDonalds or other quick-service restaurants, what’s the source of my fascination with McFarthest Spot?

I think it begins with the fact that the average American sees 3000 advertisements every day. Given such day-in, day-out bombardment of promotions for places like McDonalds, part of what makes this spot worthy of celebration is its sheer absence of… everything.

In the States when people have had enough, they want to “get away from it all.” So often the respite of choice becomes an REI-fuelled jaunt into the “wilds.” In a way, many of these retreats into nature are packed with some of the most stunning and noteworthy features on the planet, like snow-capped mountains, raging rivers, mirrored lakes, etc.

But these places of note (a title they’ve rightfully earned, don’t get me wrong!) can seem like the tails to Times Square’s heads —- diametric opposites borne out of the same awe-inspiring struggle between man and nature.

But at McFarthest Spot, it’s literally a whole lot of nothing, like numbness. No (traditionally) breathtaking vistas. No marvels of man’s creation. Instead, it’s just a random point on the globe that has garnered the distinction for being nothingness’s the last American frontier. And I think that’s priceless.

Home, home on the range

Go, children! After taking the couple hours to get to McFarthest Spot, put your prairie schooner in park. Walk around and appreciate that feeling of being as far as possible from a McDonald’s. It’s going fast; McNuggets are circling the wagons as I type.