Since posting my article on dispersed camping a few days ago I’ve had quite a few questions on HOW one goes about finding places to camp on public land. Today I’m prepared to answer that question in the form of a gushing review of the DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazetteer series.
I’ll admit, when I started my review of these priceless books-of-maps, I couldn’t figure out why they went to the trouble of calling them “Atlas and Gazetteers”. So fancy-schmancy… what was the point? Being ever the resourceful one, I decided to find the answer. I called Olivia.
“I dunno” she informed me. “Look it up.”
So I did.
Atlas: /’atles/ A book of maps or charts.
Gazetteer: /gazi’ti(Ə)r/ A geographical directory of places containing information on things like mountains, waterways, camping areas, historic markers, state and national parks, roads etc.
Put them together and that’s exactly what we have here: A book of amazingly detailed, large-format topographic and informative maps.
Because Atlas and Gazetteer is too long to keep saying I will here-to-fore refer to these publications as A&G.
I’ve been a fan of this A&G series for a very very (very) long time. It’s amazing how often we use these them. They go everywhere with us, they even have a permanent spot in the back of the van underneath the mat so that if we’re out of the house, so are they.
They provide information on camping, hiking trails, cities, and most importantly, back roads! And they have a version for all 50 states.
How do I use them? Well, let’s take some hypothetical situations that (strangely) mirror real ones that may or may not actually happen on a regular basis. Here is a small portion from this sample page. (note the A, B, C correlations to the map).
Hypothetical A. You’re traveling and it’s getting late, because your husband stopped at sixty-seven rest stops and pull-offs to look for some odd 6 legged critter for his latest scientific study. You need to stop for the night. You get out your map, locate your present position, and find the closest little triangular shape to you–a.k.a. a campground, Domingo Springs.
Hypothetical B. On second thought, upon pulling through said campground and seeing that the cost for sleeping on the ground there for the next seven hours costs the same amount as some motel rooms you’ve stayed in, you aren’t sure you want to stay after all. So you look for the nearest forest service road. Ahhh, look at all the little roads coming off FR 29N14. There has got to be a suitable pull-off along the side roads.
Hypothetical C. You wake from your night of sleeping on an unused logging road in the middle of nowhere and are yearning for a trail to hike. Oh look, here’s one! Oooh, it even goes by a lake and up into Lassen Volcanic National Park. Perfect!
Whatever hypothetical travelling situation you find yourself in, these maps are sure to help. They’ve kept me off of private property, steered me towards obscure wonders across the west, and saved me buckets of money I might have spent in crowded campgrounds.
They come highly recommended. By me. And Olivia.
You can get them from sporting goods stores, Walmartish type stores (in the magazine section) or for the best price, check them out on Amazon.