Sunday, July 19, 2020

I like big maps. Still.

I saw there was the type of sporting goods store in Billings (and Helena) that focuses on the hiking/backpacking/climbing segment rather than the usual ball sports, hunting or fishing. The Base Camp. I went to see what they had. On clearance, maybe.

There were no shoes, apparel or gear that struck my fancy, but... Ooooooo, maps!

The topo maps were beyond my needs, but I could sure use something more specific and detailed than my atlases. I’m headed to the Big Horn Mountains for the first time, so, bingo, a Forest Service map of exactly that area. Of particular use to me is the key to different road types.

True, there are free, interactive online versions of these Forest Service maps, but I don’t always have access to the web—particularly in the mountains.


  1. I remember loving the Big Horns but it's been years(maybe decades!)since we were there.I'm thinking of taking that route later this year on our annual trek back east so I'm really looking forward to see what you discover!

  2. Do NOT drive down Alkali Road! It was very loose shale when we thought it might be good to take in our previous Class C down it. Talk about white knuckling it! I still can't believe Dave got us out of there even thought he is an excellent driver!

  3. You can get Forest Service recreation and many other interesting maps with a cell phone app - Avenza Maps. Some maps are free, some you purchase. They reside on your phone. No cell/internet connection needed to use them. Very handy.

    BUT - you can't spread them out on a table and use a yellow marker to plan your route...

  4. The Bighorns are beautiful. I hiked circle park a while back. If you are interested in offline maps, I made a tutorial using QGIS and public information. There is a lot to learn but it makes exploring the outdoors much more enjoyable for me. I find most of my hikes and campsites that way.