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Old 10-23-2008, 01:41 PM   #1
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What is the best map to have?

GPS, smart phones, and laptops can fall short just when you really need them. There are so many map books and guides for sale. They are all for smaller regions to maximize the publisher's profit. I hate that strategy, especially when it is as transparent as with these publications.

What is the mother of all trail books to invest in?
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Old 10-23-2008, 05:58 PM   #2
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It probably depends on where you want to travel.

For instance, National Geographic has a great map of Death Valley. With that map and a GPS you can't go wrong.

The BLM has an excellent map of the Arizona strip (the Northwest corner of Arizona, above and west of the Grand Canyon).

AAA has a good selection of road maps.

It just depends.

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Old 10-23-2008, 07:49 PM   #3
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DeLorme Atlas for each state. I've worn through two sets of the ones for CA.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:18 PM   #4
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I also use the DeLorme Gazetteer map series, as well as the Benchmark Maps Road & Recreation Atlas series of state maps for general backroad reference. The Benchmark Maps series has somewhat better printing quality, with pseudo-3D shadow shading. I like having both maps.

- DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer series of state maps

- Benchmark Maps Road & Recreation Atlas series of state maps

Trail books? Well, they're not maps per se, but my favorite (by far!) backroad and 4x4 guides for the southwest states are the "Backcountry Adventures" Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson -- beautiful color photographs, history, maps, and trip logs (both ways) with mileage, turnoffs, and gps coordinates. I have the whole series, and use them all the time.

Backcountry Adventure Series

Backcountry Adventures: ARIZONA
Backcountry Adventures: NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
Backcountry Adventures: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Backcountry Adventures: UTAH
4WD Adventures: COLORADO
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:20 PM   #5
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I have to go along with Jeffrey, we use the DeLorme Atlas a lot. Got 'em for most of the western states. But, I've started using the Benchmark ones and am getting to like them a little better. The contrast and topo seems a little better to me. Either one is a great way to go. They're compact and show most any road in a given State. Good backup for GPS.
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:11 PM   #6
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Benchmark has sharper printing, but their scale is such that almost twice the ground is covered (compared to DeLorme) in the same size map page. Here's DeLorme vs. Benchmark, scaled to the same size:


Again, DeLorme vs. Benchmark:
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:19 PM   #7
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I really like my Benchmark Colorado Atlas, used it a bunch in Meeker along with the Garmin with both City Navigator and Topo maps.

The GPS is awesome for finding a truckstop so you're comfortable driving past that rinky dink gas station, and navigating back to tiny roads that are questionable in their navigability.

The Atlas is useful for looking at the bigger picture, figuring out where the dirt roads go or which is which (often on the GPS you have to scroll several screens once zoomed in enough to see the dirt roads).

If I had to choose I'd take the GPS over the Atlas, but it's really a drag trying to scroll around and figure out where exactly you're lost on it.
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Old 10-24-2008, 02:00 AM   #8
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Great advice. Thanks, got all three for California. I'll expand as needed. I'll still get lost, that's part of the fun.

1) California Atlas & Gazetteer (Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer Series).

2) Benchmark California Road & Recreation Atlas, Fifth Edition (Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas).

3) Backcountry Adventures Southern California: The Ultimate Guide to the Backcountry for anyone with a Sport Utility Vehicle (Backcountry Adventures).
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