The 25 Best Nerd Road Trips

Puente Hills Landfill

Whittier, California N 34.020261 / W 118.009300 Puente Hills is a 500-foot-tall mountain built from 130 million tons of Los Angeles County trash, given shape by garbage-moving heavy machinery and contaminant-sealing geotextiles. Before the recession, the site took in more daily trash than any other U.S. landfill. Today, visitors watch engineers sculpt each day's deliveries into a terraced landscape. Puente Hills will close its gates on October 31, when its permit expires. The sanitation department will divert trash to other nearby dumps, including the Mesquite Regional Landfill—a site whose 20,000-tons-a-day capacity should last a century. Occasional free public tours (or you can pay to dump). Courtesy the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County

In the past 16 months, writers Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley have toured 150 of the built, natural, and virtual landscapes of the United States, collecting images and interviews. They call the project Venue, and they are documenting their progress at v-e-n-u-e.com. For Popular Science, they selected 25 of their favorite sites, each one open to the public and perfect for a late-summer road trip.

For the full list, explore the map, or click here to go through the stops one by one.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Popular Science.

Soudan Underground Mine State Park
Aerojet-Dade Rocket Facility
National Radio Quiet Zone
Very Large Array
Spaceport America
McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope
Fort Irwin National Training Center
Cinder Lake
Bay Model
Koreshan State Historic Site
Center For Land Use Interpretation
Central Park Bolt
Mercer Museum
Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine
Berkeley Pit
Strataca
San Andreas Fault
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Center For PostNatural History
The Pollinator Pathway
Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower
Luther Burbank Experimental Gardens
Chile Pepper Institute Garden
The Humongous Fungus