MAPWAS WHAT IS
If you're going to explore, you need to know where you're going. To know where you're going, you need a map. The best maps are U.S. Geological Survey maps.
For most of the sites here, we included a link to click on for a map. That link will take you to Google maps. Used in conjunction with a USGS map, the Google satellite view will be very useful in determining where you need to go. From there, you could zoom in or out, pan to different areas, or look up something totally different. Next thing you know, it's 2 am, the dishes aren't done, the dog hasn't been fed, and, well, you know how it goes.
When we started exploring, we went out with the DeLorme Atlases thinking we had some accurate information. WRONG. DeLorme atlases are- at least- crude guesses on where roads might go, should go, or look like they might be going. They are totally useless for actual off-pavement adventuring, and if you use them you will die. Of course, that's just, uh, Luis's opinion.
Of course, many USGS maps haven't been updated in many years. Like, decades. That's why Google Maps and Googe Earth are so handy. You can zoom in from outerspace and see the roads, even buildings and other ghost town wreckage from satellites that took the picture much more recently.
However, don't rely on them 100%. "Well, it looked like a road from outer space!" is a common refrain in our travels.
Since we're lazy, the web site uses several different formats of longitude and latitude.
One would assume that if one was going to travel in the desert wastes, one would have a basic understanding of map reading. When we say map reading, we mean, figuring out which way is north, calculating where you are, and what all those squiggly lines and numbers mean. A good map is essential to finding your away around and not getting lost. By far, maps from the U.S. Geological Survey are the best, but if you can't read them they'll be next to useless, unless you use them to keep warm by burning them.
If you are 21st century explorers, you will have a GPS, which will tell you exaclty where you are down to the inch.
BWAH ha ha ha hah ah ah ah ah a ha hah a. Well, they're not that accurate but close enough, and they will prevent you from wasting an afternoon heading down the wrong canyon. We usually plan our trips using way points so we know where we are. Biggest problem with a GPS- don't be looking at it all the time, or you'll runn off the road.
Finding where you are on the map is a simple process once you've mastered using a G.P.S. unit, although I hear you can do it with a compass and other crude tools.
We suggest you do not travel without a current map, and knowing how to use it. Have a backup plan- it only take a few hours to change a road into a washed-out wreck of a canyon. If you can inquire locally, use that info to supplement your map.
Right now I'm using a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx and Luis is dragging along one of their ultra cool Oregon 450 units.