Ok, so I've done seven road trips over the past eight years and have always had to carry 2 atlases. Each would have certain roads/cities/whatnot the other wouldn't. Currently I am using the Rand McNally 2010 atlas and the Fodor's American Map (copyright 2008). Is there like an uber-map out there? Obviously, these are both good maps seperately, but every trip I've done has been with my uncle and he likes to avoid interstates like the plague. And it gets annoying flipping between maps to try and find a road that he's sure is there beause he was there 20 years ago (he's 86) and I can't find it in the map I have open, if it's lucky enough to be in the other one. I mean, it isn't the worst thing if I have to keep doing it this way, just annoying. LOL I want to have my cake and eat it too. I like having the smaller towns listed and some of the lesser used roads on the map. Any help would be appreciated. LOL I would like to find one before he gets a wild hair and calls me (I figure I have 2-4 weeks). Thanks!
Maps and Atlases: National vs 'Local'
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
The first basic decision any map maker has to make is the scale of the map. How much real estate in his map or book can he allocate to how much real estate on the ground. The 'problem' with the major national atlases, and Rand McNally and Fodor's are among the best, is that they have to squeeze nearly four million square miles into a few square feet of paper. In doing so, they have to make decisions on which roads, towns, parks and other attractions to include and, sadly, which to leave out. They will of course and as you have noted make different editorial decisions. If you want more detail you have to sacrifice the area covered to make more paper available for the areas you do cover. Enter atlases which only cover a state or a few smaller states. These generally go by the name of gazetteers (although that's a misnomer) and two of the best series of such atlases are put out by Delorme and Benchmark. You can find more in depth reviews of mapping products here.
Thanks for the response. I had actually started looking at the Delormes after I wrote this, but couldn't get a good view of what the maps actually looked like (was on amazon and one of the rare times I wasn't impressed). I guess my real problem with doing the single state gazetteer is you really need to know where you are going ahead of time. With the Uncle, I don't have that luxury. Most times it's "let's go <pick a direction>." But from what little I was able to see, at least with Delorme, that may be the way to go. I did notice on their website (delorme) that you can get a multi state pack. May have to dig a little more into them.
Just thought of this, do you have a preference of either DeLorme or Benchmark? If you use either?
Much more than a forum !
You can use RTA's maps and books section to find what you are looking for with some reviews and you will find pages and pages of road trip info searching the other RTA pages via the tool bars at the top of the page.
You can also pick up maps free from visitor centres, rest areas and State/National parks while on the road for a "local look".
They aren't very popular here, but you may be best served with a computer mapping program on a laptop. I use Microsoft Streets & Trips with a GPS module, another good one is made by DeLorme. The big advantage here is the ability to zoom in and out, the farther you zoom in the more detail you get, all the way down to city streets and forest service roads.
Hello shotgun navigator,
I've developed a strong preference for Benchmark over DeLorme since purchasing my first Benchmark (for California) in late 2007. I find the topographic information much easier to see and read and the related contour intervals much more useful. My older DeLormes have very faint topo contours and they're at a fairly high contour interval and are expressed in the metric system.
I recently updated my library of Benchmarks for use in planning a July 2010 RoadTrip to Montana.
Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!
thanks for the info everyone.
Just for sort of a follow-up for those who may care, I recently purchased a few DeLorme gazetteers. Exactly what I was looking for. I've spent some time getting a feel for how they are set up, and I really wish I had realized there was such a thing as these a long time ago. Like I say, the main reason I wanted these is my uncle says to me on our first trip to WI, "There's a road that runs right next to the lake and I don't reember where it is." We eventually found it, but I kinda felt stupid saying "Not that I don't believe you, but I don't see one on the atlas." So, again, thanks to everyone who commented. It was appreciated.