Author Topic: Maps: opinion on ACA maps  (Read 8054 times)

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Offline Doug

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« on: January 30, 2008, 02:07:00 pm »
I just received the maps for my tour this summer (san francisco to oregon, then transamerica).

The maps are very detailed but my question is:

how many of you use other maps WITH the ACA maps to help navigate? If you do use other maps, what type do you use?

Offline rabbitoh

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 03:58:56 pm »

Whilst I found the ACA maps to be excellent for detail, to get a perspective of where I was in relation to borders and cities, I also used the various state maps as I passed through. When I had cycled through a state and had finished with the map I simply mailed it back home, as a keepsake. It didn't matter to me which brand or scale of map, I just needed to know where I was in the state of the nation.

Good Cycling
Good Cycling

Offline staehpj1

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 05:39:34 pm »
Pick up state maps as you go.  It is worthwhile for a lot of reasons including:
1. Perspective of where you are in the grand schems.
2. Necessary if there are detours.
3. Necessary if you need to go off route to find a bike shop,  On the TA there are no on route bikeshops in eastern colorado or kansas.
4. Necessary if you want to improvise a shorter or more interesting detour.

Offline valygrl

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2008, 09:43:37 pm »
I used AAA maps, I started with a couple of states' worth, then picked up more on the way - not that many cities have a AAA office, though, so if you do that you have to plan a little in advance.  

You also can often get a state map at the 'welcome center' for the state, which you usually find within 0-20 miles of entering the state, and I picked up maps from the visitor center in any town big enough to need one.  Also at the visitor center and forest service/ranger stations, you can often get maps of campsite locations.  RV park brochures can be useful too.

Asking people is useful too - but if they aren't riding a bike, be prepared for their distance and hill info to be wildly inaccurate.


  • Guest
Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2008, 07:52:14 am »
Hi Doug,

I use the road map and point-of-interest database in my GPS. Before that arrived, I picked up state highway maps.    The GPS map is a good adjunct to the ACA maps, but it cannot replace them any more than the state highways maps can.


Offline staehpj1

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2008, 09:15:08 am »
> Asking people is useful too - but if they aren't riding a bike, be prepared for their distance and hill info to be wildly inaccurate.

True, much advice we got was worse than useless.  Someone would tell us the next town was exactly 12 miles and it was pretty flat the whole way.  Then it would be 25 miles with a 2000' climb just before you got there.

OTOH: Truck drivers advice seemed to be of uncanny accuracy.  They would say something like, "don't hold me to this" or "this is just a guess" and then give distances accurate down to the tenth and exact descriptions of where the hills were and how long and steep they were.  One even added, "It is pretty hot today.  There are nice swimming holes at ..." and listed three or for possible places to cool off.

Offline biker_james

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2008, 07:36:25 am »
One of my favourite pastimes while touring is asking for road info at the tourist information booths and from other people (motorists)you run into. Not that I expect any useful information, I just like to see how the reality compares to their view of it. I love it when you descend into some town set down in a valley or basin, and are told there is no climb heading out of town when you know you're going to be sweating away uphill in no time. Distances seem to be given in time more than miles or kilometres. It doesn't tell you if that person feels that 20 minutes is 10 miles or 30 miles though.
Truckers give you great inofrmation, I guess because its a little more work for them than your average car they will remember the hills. I think a lot of them have at least a little appreciation when they see you hauling a bunch of gear along up some big hill on your bike. We are in Canada, and all our touring has been in Canada, so the ACA maps aren't any use to us. We just use road maps, either picked up fro the autoclub, at the tourist info booths at the border, or (if necessary) buy them at a gas station.

This message was edited by biker_james on 2-1-08 @ 3:38 AM

Offline JayH

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 12:03:03 pm »
I've use the ACA maps with a Garmin Etrex Vista (old one) that has a basemap of North America on it. I found the GPS fairly useful as a touring assistant. I've also used the ACA maps with a county level map and the free maps that you can get from various states. All of it useful, knowledge is power, so they say.


Offline litespeed

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2008, 12:27:20 pm »
I agree with biker_james on the usefulness of tourist centers. Never pass one up, especially if you are entering a state. The have the best maps (and they are free) and they are usually very helpful with information.

I don't use ACA maps - find them difficult to read and the information is often out of date - but there are definitely times when I should have used them instead of winging it.

I always pack a Rand McNally road atlas - much superior to other brands but not easy to find. I tape the edges of the cover and the binding with clear packing tape to make it hold up better. Also, whenever I stop for the night I mark my cumulative mileage right where I am on the map. It's a good backup record of my travels.

Except for the northeast maps are available most anywhere they sell gas and have an attached store. Truck stops are the best. Wal-Marts are also good for road atlas's and maps.

This message was edited by litespeed on 2-18-08 @ 8:50 AM

Offline DaveB

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2008, 07:57:22 pm »
If you are an AAA member, their state and regional maps are free.  They available at most AAA offices so you could pick them up as  you need them instead of getting (and carrying) everything in advance.

They also can prepare detailed "Trip-Tics" of your route which have a lot of detail but are mostly intended for automobile travel so you have to specify secondary roads.      

Offline WesternFlyer

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2008, 03:04:24 am »
I find the National Forest Service maps invaluable.  Did you know as your ride takes you north through the Oregon Coast you will be passing right by the only old growth coastal wilderness left on the Pacific Coast? It is not on the ACA maps or most Oregon state maps.  The NFS maps cover much larger areas than just the specific forest or grassland they reference, with accurate details of what are public and private lands. They also have very extensive details of roads and near roads with descriptions of their surfaces, names and numbers both inside and outside the National Forests. The NFS encourages biking and many of the dirt roads are quite accessible to touring bikes with adequate tires and rims.  There are developed NFS campsites, which run from $10 to free, and with a fire permit you can camp most anywhere using some general guidelines.

The cons are the maps are large and cost $10.00 each (available online and at NFS headquarters).  I know in Oregon some public libraries have them in their reference sections.

And I seldom pass up local fruit stands (they arent on the maps).  They are tasty and fresh, and the local folks running them have a wealth of information about their area.  

Western Flyer

I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!
   Shel Silverstein
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden

Offline mrwr382

Maps: opinion on ACA maps
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2008, 02:03:36 pm »
I have the ACA maps on google earth and I slice the atlas maps from rand McNally for my handlebar map. The google maps show every street when zoomed in, so is quite useful. The ACA route lines are pretty good.

The paper weighs very little and the Nokia N800 with GPS weighs 7 oz. - I use wi-fi hotspots in towns (usually libraries) to use yellow pages and locate hot springs & c.