Author Topic: USGS maps for touring anybody?  (Read 2300 times)

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Offline PeteJack

USGS maps for touring anybody?
« on: March 29, 2015, 10:48:46 am »
Has anyone used USGS maps for touring? I've searched this site and find no reference to USGS. My only experience of USGS maps was many years ago when I used their paper maps for hiking. It seems to me the scal was way too big and you would need a trailer to carry them for a tour of any distance but maybe things have changed. Is there a USGS tool for selecting maps that is any use?

I'm trying to help someone in the UK who things ACA maps are expensive. I've searched this site and find no reference to USGS. Not very promising
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 10:54:08 am by PeteJack »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: USGS maps for touring anybody?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2015, 11:02:37 am »
Your assumptions are correct.  The USGS maps are very detailed thus you would need to have a lot of maps.  A better, less expensive, choice is to buy used ACA maps.  The maps, while a tad pricey, are very good if you plan to stay on the ACA route as they are cyclotourist specific, i.e. lists campgrounds, groceries, motels, bike shops, etc..  eBay (at least in the US) frequently has used maps as does CrazyGuyOnABike's classifieds.

Another alternative is to buy new maps and then sell them.  Your net cost would be about 1/2 after you sell them.

Finally, you could always just use state maps and determine your own route but that may not be the best solution if you friend has never cycled in the US before.

EDIT:  I just realized you are fairly knowledgeable about ACA (based on your posts) so sorry about the basic info on the maps. At least the info is good for beginners.

Offline jamawani

Re: USGS maps for touring anybody?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2015, 11:17:45 am »
Actually, there is an online site - -

http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/usgs/maplocator/(ctype=areaDetails&xcm=r3standardpitrex_prd&carea=%24ROOT&layout=6_1_61_48&uiarea=2)/.do

Although it says "USGS Store" you can view almost any map that the USGS has published in the past 100 years.
The drawback is that these files (scanned maps) are huge and might be problematic downloading on the road.
Also, they might be tough to read on a smartphone - less so on a note pad.

Some of the 1:250 and 15 minute maps are terribly outdated. Even the 1:100 are often old, now.
Most 7 1/2 minute maps have been updated, but the level of detail may be more than you need.
ACA maps are great if you don't plan to wander off route - but of little use if you do.

I have found that National Forest maps are ideal for cycling - the scale is 1inch = 2 miles.
Many have topo contours now and most are now available in plastic.
Crossing the Cascades might entail two or three maps - same for the Rockies.
They have campground, backroad, trail and facilities information.
Plus, land ownership status for those who wish to do dispersed camping.