"USA On the Road... to Natural Parks"





When you start working on your brand new itinerary, lot of the geography, distances, roads, Park's entrances will be almost unknown for you. Specially in this phase a mapping software is extremely useful to study your trip's legs, to optimize the order of your stops and much more. Once you itinerary is ready you can use these softwares to manage all details, check where your hotels are, where gas stations can be found, you can print towns maps and, with some particular software, you can even plan your outdoor activity. Nevertheless, after long "studies" and and many simulations, in our specific case we didn't print any map. On the road we preferred an old traditional road atlas.
Keep in mind that some of these softwares can't be sent ouside the USA and if you live abroad you must either ask a friend or wait till you're in the States and buy one for your next trip.

Street Atlas USA 2004
by: DeLorme
Price: 49.95$
Official Site

DeLorme Street Atlas 2004 is surely one of the two best mapping softwares to plan an on the road. Both CDs in the package can be fully installed on your HD and take about 1.13 GB.
This software is very precise and detailed. For example, I was able to find any single restaurant, motel and gas station where I had been in Moab, a little town in Utah.
If you've to choose your first software, probably DeLorme Street Atlas is your best option.



The 5.0 version has just been released

DeLorme Topo USA 4.0 is a great a software. You can use it either to plan a itinerary and, specially, to plan your outdoor activity. The best part of this software is surely its 3D view. It's great to have an idea of all trail's characteristics, as the elevation gain, lenght, height, profile...
More, you can even trace your own new trail and add it to the already big collection of famous trails included in the software's library.
Naturally this software requires pretty fast computers and lot of space on your HD. In the package you'll find 7 CDs: a installation CD plus 6 other CDs each covering a specifical area of the States. The good news is that you can istall only the CD you're interested in. Each one takes about 600 MB of HD space.

Topo USA 4.0
by: DeLorme
Price: 99.95$
Official Site

Microsof Streets & Trips was my first software when I planned my 2003 on the road. I worked on the 2003 version but the new 2004 doesn't differ much. The software comes on two CDs which can both be installed on your HD taking about 970 MB. Streets&Trips is functional an very well done. On some particular situations is a bit less precise than DeLorme Street Atlas but it's enough to pay just a bit of attention to avoid any kind of problem.
I like this software very much and I verified on the road that this it is precise either for distances and for the extimated trip's time.

Streets & Trips 2004
by: Microsoft
Price: 29.95$
Official Site

Trails Illustrated is a very complete series of interactive maps by the National Geographic. There are CDs for about each American State and other CDs for specifical topics, as the one shown here about National Parks. This one includes maps for Yosemite, Denali, Hawaii Volcanoes, Yellowstone, Shenandoah, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, Arches, Grand Canyon, Zion, Glacier, Great Smoky, Olympic, Grand Teton e Acadia. This software is very well done and includes many famous trails and gives the chance to draw your own ones. The only lack I found refers to the impossibility of tracing the classic famous trails automatically. If you want information about them (as their profile, lenght...) you must first trace them...with all the following disadvantages (try to trace the Angels Landing Trail with all the many bends and making your mouse passing exactly by the few meters wide trail's last part...). Anyway, a good software and a good alternative to the most precise and expensive DeLorme Topo 4.0.

TrailSmart: 15 Major National Parks
by: National Geographic
Price: 29.99 $
Official Site

Trail Finder was something new for me. This software works basically with a web access. When you buy the software, you get a web access to more than 30.000 trails' descriptions taken from about 1.000 of the most famous outdoor books. You can simply imagine to have full access to a huge library right from your computer. Read properly the subscription overview since some features are not included in the software price and are to be paid as extras. This is surely a very original product, I tried a demo version in a store and I was extremely impressed of it.

Trail Finder
Price: 29.95$
Official Site

1,001 Hikes in North America is another good software for who's looking for some hiking experience in the USA. This software comes on 1 CD and icludes basically a library of the most famous hikes. Each one is analize in detail with all the information concernig lenght, elevation gain, difficulty,...with nice maps and photos. More, some expert commentates the hike giving interesting information and tips. Anyway don't expect a software like DeLorme Topo 4.0. 1001 Hikes gives you information JUST on the hikes in its library. The map can't be zoomed, which means that from the State map you can only go directly to the hike map.

1,001 Hikes in North America
by: Topics Entertainment
Price: 29.99$
Official Site
The Road Atlas
by: Rand McNally
Price: 19.99$
Official Site


The Road Atlas is a software that I haven't tried yet. Below there is the software's description that you find on the official site.

Fast. Accurate. Innovative. Easy to use.Rand McNally Road Atlas Travel Software puts America's best-selling road atlas right on your desktop so you can get maps and directions with no need to connect to the Internet!

  • Quick to install
  • Runs on the desktop – no need to re-insert the CD once it's installed
  • Innovative three-window screen gives you easy access searching, mapping, and directions
  • Simple search by name, address, or proximity
  • Quick-click State Maps
  • Instantly retrieve maps and locations you've visited before
  • Driving directions on major roads in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and within 83 major cities
  • Personalize your itineraries with directions, mileages, and driving times
  • Print your trip maps!
  • Page and Grid™ references correspond to the printed Rand McNally Road Atlas
  • Mobil Travel Guide® rated restaurants and hotels
StreetFinder & TripMaker
by: Rand McNally
Price: 19.99$
Official Site


StreetFinder & TripMaker, is another software that I heven't tied yet. This is the software's description copied and pasted from the official site.

Rand McNally's award-winning StreetFinder® and TripMaker® software is now available in this special 4-CD set, giving you everything you need to plan trips and get accurate city routes right on your computer. Whether you're headed downtown for a business meeting or vacationing across the country, this collection includes extensive mapping systems and exploration guides to make your journeys quick and hassle-free. Rand McNally has provided accurate, dependable, and user-friendly maps in the United States for more than 130 years, so you can always rely on our easy-to-follow, accurate information. Throw in customizable maps, drawing tools, personalized itineraries, and more, and you've got the most reliable source for planning trips on your home PC. Whether you're a frequent business traveler, family vacationer, or outdoor adventurer, this software has what you need to create and enhance the perfect itineraries for your kind of travel. Choose quick or scenic routes, track with GPS (with compatible GPS receiver), plan end of day stops, search street-level detail for major cities … the possibilities are practically endless.

StreetFinder® Features:
  • Address-to-address directions
  • More than one million business listings
  • Custom drawing tools
  • Trip Organizer to log daily schedules, reservations, and travel expenses
  • TripMaker® Features:
  • Personalized itineraries geared towards your interests and driving preferences
  • Customizable maps with street-level detail
  • RoadSense feature provides up-to-date road closure and traffic information
  • MoneyMinder tips to help you budget and save while on the road