Which travel maps of the USA are best?
With GPS capability in our phones and cars, we’re able to get directions instantly to almost anywhere. What we don’t see with directional apps is the big picture we see when we look at a map. A travel map allows us to plan trips in a way that a smartphone can’t.
Today we buy far more than city and state maps. If you’re looking for a map of the top 100 destinations for hiking, cycling, skiing, birding and much more, take a look at the National Geographic Road Atlas 2021: Adventure Edition.
What to know before you buy a USA travel map
Foldable maps: Foldable maps are the smallest at about the size of a standard envelope, so they can be easily stored and carried in small spaces. Folding maps typically unfold to about 2 by 3 feet so you can see lots of detail.
Bound maps: A road atlas is a bound book with many pages. Road atlases are typically about the size of a sheet of printer paper and the number of pages varies from a few dozen to a hundred or more. There are lots of details because each page is a close-up of one small segment of the city, state or region.
Wall maps: These are large maps that you hang on the wall as ways to track your adventures across the USA. One type of travel map is the scratch map that’s a fun way to track your travels.
National: You can buy a travel map of the entire United States, the best way to get an overview of the vastness of the country’s nearly 4 million square miles. The USA has 47,000 miles of interstate highway, the fastest and easiest way to travel. But the USA also has another 4 million miles of roads that are nearly invisible to most apps and GPS.
State: There are maps of every one of the 50 states. Each provides 50 times the detail found on a map of the entire USA.
City: You can find maps of all the major cities that allow you to zoom in even farther to pinpoint very small details.
Regional: Regional maps of the USA focus on geographical regions like the Rocky Mountains, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes. Each gives users a bigger picture than state maps.
What to look for in a quality USA travel map
Maps for adventurers
You can choose from maps that feature National Parks of the United States, national monuments, national wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers, mountain peaks, campgrounds, RV parks and many more.
Maps for active outdoors people
Maps of hiking trails in parks and forests include distances, difficulty ratings, trail features and sights to be found in the surrounding area. Outdoors people with special activity interests enjoy maps of things like boat launching sites, ski areas and skydiving drop zones.
Special interest maps
Many tourists happily buy maps of places like the Napa and Sonoma wine countries. Sports fans like maps of baseball and football stadiums. Golfers enjoy maps of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and more.
The USA is full of natural beauty, and road trips are the best way to see as many stunning landscapes and scenic views as you can. People who like driving scenic mountain highways will want a map of the Blue Ridge Parkway. America’s favorite scenic drive through the Appalachian Mountains is 469 miles of slow-paced and relaxing driving with stunning vistas.
How much you can expect to spend on a USA travel map
Folding paper maps cost $5-$10. Most road atlases and scratch-off maps cost $10-$30.
USA travel map FAQ
Is a bound travel atlas the same as a folding paper map?
A. Folding paper maps have two sides. Bound atlases have hundreds of pages. Folding maps present you with the big picture, while atlases allow for more close-up detail of smaller areas.
What are paper maps really best for?
A. Paper maps are several times larger than GPS screens. The size and scope of what you see is a full perspective of your entire trip rather than a small image that gives turn-by-turn directions.
What’s the best USA travel map to buy?
Top USA travel map
What you need to know: This 11 by 15-inch atlas is spiral-bound for durability and ease of use.
What you’ll love: This 144-page bound set of maps is the most accurate and easy-to-read road map on the market today. Extra features for the adventurer include America’s top 100 destinations for hiking, cycling, skiing, birding and much more.
What you should consider: The section on America’s 24 favorite National Parks includes maps, photos, trails, campgrounds, lodging and tips for enjoying top sights.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top USA travel map for the money
What you need to know: America’s best-selling trucking atlas is 208 pages designed to meet the needs of professional drivers and RVers, too.
What you’ll love: This 10-inch by 15-inch bound book helps drivers save time and money while staying compliant. Details include restricted routes, areas of low clearance and locations of weigh stations. The separate 22-page mileage directory includes more than 40,000 approved truck routes with city-to-city mileage.
What you should consider: Travel with even more safety and confidence with phone numbers of permit agencies, and road construction and severe weather hotlines.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Proudly display your own visual travel journal with this 17-inch by 24-inch scratch map of the USA.
What you’ll love: Track your road trips and wanderings with a complete scratch-off kit with panels, flags, map pins and adventure stickers. This item includes a separate 12-inch by 16-inch National Park scratch-off poster. This colorful map displays 42 must-see landmarks and 15 adventure trips. The 5-inch by 8-inch travel journal has 60 stitch-sewn pages and an inner flap for travel tracker keepsakes.
What you should consider: This map arrives rolled in a tube, so give it time to lay flat.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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