Apologies to OP, but that's not an appropriate title for this thread.
I am from Holland. I have cycled a lot in Europe, but I have never been to the USA. I am planning to fill this huge gap in my resume by cycling from Los Angeles to Anchorage this coming summer. This will be quite an adventure and I have a few questions.
I generally don't use cycle routes, I prefer to set my own course using a map. For me that is an important aspect of the enterprise. Alternatively I could follow the Pacific Coast Route. Now my questions are:
You may not be aware that "cycle routes" in the U.S., particularly long routes, are probably not what you're used to in Europe. You'll be routed on roads, often smaller, low traffic back roads, for most of the Pacific Coast and Sierra Crest routes.
* Will it be OK to cycle using just US state maps?
* Which brand of maps is preferable? The best I have seen so far is 1 : 700 000. It is quite important for me that all the camp grounds are indicated.
I'd suggest you look at the Delorme maps. State maps rarely devolve below state roads, and there's lots of county roads that are fine for cycling that won't show up on road maps the state Department of Transportation publishes. And you'll probably have to buy a separate campground guide.
* Are good state maps readily available at e.g. gas stations in the US and Canada?
* Or should I get the Pacific Coast route anyway although that means carrying a five-map set for less than half of my trip?
You can usually buy a state map at gas stations. You can usually get one for free at a tourist information center or chamber of commerce.
Unless you want to carry the (big and heavy) Delorme maps, I'd recommend getting the Pacific Coast maps, and supplementing those with DOT state maps and local chamber of commerce information if you want to go off route.. They'll have more specific information on the attractions, campgrounds, motels, etc. If you're camping, they'll save you their own cost within a few weeks.