Author Topic: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps  (Read 22229 times)

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Offline Westinghouse

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2009, 12:37:46 pm »
Get you to a library. Get state maps for states you will cross. Choose your tentative route. Plot it on copies of maps for 10 cents each, and make a strip map out of them. Get the state atlas in the library and find more closely which roads you should use, along with campgrounds, and make a final strip map. Note towns you will travel through. When you get going, and you are in the next state of your journey, stop at a library for the state atlas, and precision your route again, and so on. Some libraries may have several different state atlases. Small libraries might have an atlas only for the state you are in.

Before setting out, google the towns you will pass through for restaurants, campgrounds, and bike shops. To begin with, big towns will have bike shops for sure. Even some small towns have bike shops. A town like Sentinel will certainly not have a bike shop. A city like El Paso will have quite a few. You do not have to google places like those because you know already

Offline johnsondasw

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2009, 12:52:59 am »
I guess I'm like the previous writer.  In 30 years of touring, I've never used ACA maps, just road maps you can get anywhere.  However, reading about the features of ACA maps, I just might start.  Maybe I've missed out on a lot of useful info on trips and created hassles that could have been avoided.  For example, on the Pacific Coast Route in 2005, there were places that were hard to figure out, and the level of "adventure" sure went up around
Santa Barbara because the book we had was kind of out of date.  We wasted a couple hours on a 116 mile day!  I'll have to check these maps out next time I'm on a designated ACA route.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline MrBent

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2009, 12:48:46 pm »
Interesting and useful discussion.  For my cross country ride in 2007, I used a combination of ACA maps and my own mapping.  My ACA maps were the Northern Tier to the Great Rivers, which I followed south to the Katy Trail in Missouri and then headed west again.  In the West, cyclists have far fewer road choices, so finding a route is a simpler business.  East of the Mississippi, life can get pretty confusing for the pedal powered people.  I was EXTREMELY grateful to have the  mapping worked out by Adventure Cycling.  I'm sure other good routes exist, but knowing which ones are bike friendly, where to find services, etc. is very difficult for non-natives.

Of course, one can figure out routes, but the research is time consuming.  One great resource is to check if the states you are riding through have already produced cycling route maps.  I've used such maps for Oregon, Arizona, and Kansas.  I'm sure others must exist.  Once you've narrowed down some choices, post questions in places like this forum and others.  You'll get folks like Westinghouse who've ridden EVERYWHERE.

Don't dismiss the ACA maps because you think they'll be crowded.  In fact, as one poster said, running into other cyclists is a pleasure and a relief at times.  It's a chance to connect with a wider touring community, swap stories, and get some up-to-date route info.  I looked forward to all the encounters I had--not too many, really. 

Whatever method you choose, enjoy!


Offline wildandcrazy

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2010, 01:56:54 pm »
Google Maps has recently added "bicycling" to its directions.  It is still in testing, but it appears to know about rail trails.  It looks like italso  routes on low traffic roads.  I have used the "walking" feature, but the new "bicycling" option looks better.

Offline mucknort

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2010, 02:48:47 pm »
I am not sure what ACA Maps are...
Ummm, ACA stands for Adventure Cycling Association. They are the group that hosts this here website....

Offline rvklassen

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2010, 04:54:57 pm »
Touring in Canada, where I am, there are no ACA maps. .... They don't really built highways or even secondary roads with 40% grades too many places in my experience.
Having driven in the US and in Canada, and ridden in the US and in Canada, I'd say the Canadians are generally a whole lot more sane when it comes to grades.  The steepest grades in the US are definitely way steeper than anything I've encountered anywhere in Canada.

I don't know why.  Something about the culture perhaps.

Offline John Nelson

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2010, 05:57:29 pm »
If you read about trips on, it might do well to keep in mind they are cyclists on a well known and mapped route for bicycling.
Not any more so than any other touring web site.

Offline BicycleNevada

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2010, 06:42:19 pm »
Each state Dept. of Transportation has a designated Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator (see  Most of the states produce a bicycle map with more information pertinent to cyclists than standard road maps.  Many states also have corridor guides for bicyclists as well (e.g, CA, etc.).  All these items should be free.  The coordinators should be able to give you additional valuable information on proposed routes and construction.  Just contact your state coordinator.

If you need info on Nevada, please contact me.

Bill Story
State Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator
Nevada Department of Transportation
1263 S. Stewart St.
Carson City, NV  89710
Office:   (775) 888-RIDE (7433)

Offline litespeed

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2010, 09:09:11 am »
I've crossed the country completely 3 times and mostly across 4 times (Florida to Utah and back twice). I've never used ACA maps but I will admit I've found myself on bad bicycling roads a few times. ACA maps tend to meander a lot but this is clearly necessary in states like Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, South Carolina and Iowa with their shoulderless (or unpaved shoulders)US highways. In states with well-shouldered roads like New Jersey, Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington or western Texas you can go most anywhere. In places where there is a lot of farming there are often huge paved shoulders to accomodate slow moving farm machinery. The same applies to Amish and Mennonite country with their horse drawn buggies.

On my ride up the east coast in May I might use the ACA maps in South Carolina to avoid the bad stretches of US17 and 17A just south of Somerville and Charleston.


  • Guest
Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2010, 10:36:09 am »
The weirdest thing I have found over and over is that locals usually know ver little about the geography and especially the topography of their own area.  I have received bogus info over and over from locals and, often, an "I don't know" in response to very basic queries about the local area.  Anyone else have this same experience?

Absolutely.  Probably the weirdest experience came on the third day of my first ever tour.  (AC's Nothern Tier '99)  Through a SNAFU, we ended up at Bayview State Park with no groceries.  Our map showed a relatively large town off-route near a major highway that we thought would have a store.  Looked to be 8 miles away.  Before a few of us headed out, we stopped at the park office to confirm.  The ranger swore up and down that it was 8 miles round trip and refused to budge even when we told him what the map suggested.  It was, in fact, 8 miles each way.  And it was hiller than he indicated.

Misjudging terrain I can see when it's not mountainous and you only drive.  But how do you confuse 4 miles with 8 miles?

Offline Tourista829

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2010, 01:18:14 pm »
Of course you don't need to use ACO maps to plan and ride a tour. 1000's of people do it, have great tours, and are alive to talk about it. I like as much intell as possible. For most people, riding more than 500 miles is a major event. If someone is new to touring or taking a 3000 to 4000 mile tour (like the Trans Am), it is nice to know 1000's of cyclist have taken the route, have a wealth of information, know drivers and local people are use to cyclist, and it is nice to support Adventure Cycling Organization. (for all they do for us) It is ashame they don't provide more routes in Canada.

Offline staehpj1

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2010, 07:25:27 pm »
Interesting to see this old thread come up again...

Since I have done a moderate length (800 miles) tour without using AC maps since my last post on this thread, I'll say a bit more.  As I already knew from improvising sections when on the TA, I found doing a non AC route is quite do-able.  All things considered, I liked the AC routes better for two reasons I mentioned previously.  To recap them:
  • It was nice to have most/all of the recon already done.  The listings of services along the way are very handy.
  • I really prefer to meet another touring cyclist once in a while.  When not on an AC route for my tour last year I didn't meet a single cyclist.  For me meeting and comparing notes with cyclists I meet is a nice plus.  The way some folks talk you would think it was like being on Ragbrai to ride an AC route, but it is more likely you will meet one or two cyclists or small groups per day and some days none.

There really isn't much if any downside to using AC maps.  They do a good job of picking appropriately remote roads and research the available services well.


  • Guest
Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2010, 07:24:54 am »
Interesting to see this old thread come up again...

There really isn't much if any downside to using AC maps.  They do a good job of picking appropriately remote roads and research the available services well.

+1, and they are waterproof.


Offline JHamelman

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2010, 08:24:15 am »
Thanks for the votes of confidence on our maps! We do our best to stay on top of things and provide accurate information.


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 marmot2

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2010, 02:25:22 am »
First post here…

Am I crazy to blaze my own trail?

I’ve driven through and camped in Nebraska a few times and always wanted to cross US20 (or similar routes) through the grasslands and northern tier. Problem is, there’s limited cycling information for the state. I followed much of the route using Google Earth and this gave me the elevation changes and ideas of the topography, vegetation, buildings, etc.

Geeze, I can even see the vehicles on the satellite imagery giving me a vague idea on the volume of traffic on the date the image was shot (6/22/09 for these maps). I’ll probably follow the TransAm east of the Mississippi, but would love to visit the Ice Cream Capital of the World Museum in Le Mars, Iowa.