Author Topic: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?  (Read 5286 times)

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Offline Martina

Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« on: January 08, 2013, 02:40:51 am »
Hi there,

in summer we plan to cycle from Calgary via Vancouver to San Francisco. Now we are wondering which maps we should get. The ACA maps seem to be quite good but we would like to plan the detailed route "last minute" (Sierra Cascade vs. Pacific Coast or we might do a part of each). Therefore we need good maps of the States Washington, Oregon, and California, as well as British Columbia and Alberta. Since we don´t like to cycle on the highway shoulders all the time the maps should be of good map scale so the smaller streets and forest roads are in them, too.

We also think about taking our GPS with us and upload some maps. But without planning the route in advance we are concerned that the GPS itself is useless because of the small display.

Do you have any ideas or solutions for us? We appreciate it!

Thanks a lot!
Greetings from Germany

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2013, 10:26:28 am »
State Department of Transportation (DOT) maps are generally free (I expect Jennifer will jump in with the the appropriate URLs as soon as she gets to work), and provide pretty good overview down to the state highway level, sometimes better.  For finer detail, DeLorme publishes atlases for each state.  I don't know if they include all the county and Forest Service roads; if not, you'll want to go to detailed topographic maps.  I'd recommend you get one of the computerized topo packages and plan things out on your nice, big monitor before you leave; the alternative is several large file cabinets full of hard copy topographic maps.

There's a lot of land out there.  You do realize, don't you, that California alone is larger than all of Germany?
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 10:28:10 am by pdlamb »

Offline JHamelman

Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2013, 03:02:47 pm »
Hi Martina,

Here is the info pdlamb referred. I hope you find it helpful. Unfortunately, I don't have anything for your routing between Calgary and Vancouver. Hopefully someone else here will. I'm guessing there aren't a lot of choices. You might try searching the forum for previous conversations like this one:

If you want to go off Adventure Cycling Routes, a good place to start is with the bicycle coordinators for the states in which you will be traveling through. Many have online resources as well as printed materials. Nearly every state publishes a bicycle map of some sort that they will send out for free and the coordinators often have more information they can distribute for no charge as well. And while the maps aren't as detailed as ours, they generally offer suggested roads for cycling through their state. Here is a link to the contact information for all of the bicycle coordinators:

Have a great trip!

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline dfege

Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2013, 05:41:00 pm »
Of course the ACA maps are great if you are staying on the routes.  Always my first choice.  I don't know much about Oregon, Washington, and California's bicycle maps, so I can't speak to them.  However, I have relied on Delorme's State Gazateers for many of my tours.  They are exactly the right scale for bicycling, showing even the smallest back roads. You won't need the entire state Gazeteer, so I literally cut out the specific pages that I think I will need for the bike trip, fold them and put them in a zip-tight plastic bag. The Gazateers can be purchased through

Offline newfydog

Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 12:17:51 pm »
Hi Martina,

The maps in the USA are pathetic compared to what is available in Europe.  The Gazeteer maps are by far the best for cycling.

A GPS such as a Garmin Dakota will mount right on your handlebar, and the Garmin City Navigator package has every little road on the continent. You will always know where you are. One can zoom way in or way out, but it is true that the small screen makes it very difficult to plan the big picture.  For a trip without a set route, I'd take both.

Offline geegee

Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 11:27:42 am »
For Canada, MapArt prints some decent scale maps which you can buy at almost every gas station. The "Southern Alberta Range Road" map shows practically all the rural roads, and the one for BC is not bad. The corridors through the Rockies and the Cascades are pretty well limited to the roads shown (most have decent shoulders), with the exception of the rail trails such as the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) trail. These trails can be quite rough, sometimes you need to negotiate around landslides and washouts, so if you are hauling a lot of gear it can be tedious.

Natural Resources Canada will be launching a new website called GeoGratis soon ( ). When it comes into service sometime this winter, you should be able to download detailed topographic maps of any region in Canada for free

Offline mozzyman

Re: Which cycling maps for U.S. and Canada?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 08:53:03 am »
Here's some info specific to Oregon biking

Sounds like a great trip!