If you need some downtime, you could do worse than heading toward the darkest blue regions on this map. The image shows how the loudness of sound varies across the country, based on 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring.


Freshly presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting, the map uses recordings take from the quietest and loudest places in the country—from Dinosaur National Monument to New York City. The recordings were used as a representative samples to model sound across the entire surface of the U.S., using algorithms that rolled in measurements like air quality and street traffic volume to improve the predictions.

The quietest places on the map—which include Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado—have ambient sound levels of below 20 decibels. Science suggests that's as quiet as before the European colonization of the country. Now, the National Park Service is using the results to identify places where human kind is disrupting wildlife. [Science]