I have been meaning to get down to the local map store and pick up some detailed (1:24,000) USGS topographic maps. The map I have been using while hiking is a larger scale (1:75,000) map which covers a large area but does not have the detail necessary for making those ad-hoc trail decisions.
Today I drove down to the local Macvan Map store in Old Colorado City to see what they had. They stock a nice selection of the USGS maps and pretty quickly I had half-dozen or so laid out. The 1:24,000 maps have great detail but don’t cover a very large area. Naturally, one of the areas I wanted was on the edge and spanned two maps. At nearly $9 a pop this was quickly becoming expensive.
The clerk that was helping me suggested I consider going with the digital solution. There are several companies marketing topo map software and you can get the entire state for around $90. Didn’t take me too long to do the math on that one. 10 sheets covering a small area or the entire state…. hmmmm… I think I’ll go the digital route.
Now all I have to do is decide which one to buy. Both of them seem to pretty much have the same features. One of things that sold me was the programs ability to “stitch” together all the maps so they are seamless. You can select the area you are interested in, add your own markings, routes, etc. and then print out just that section.