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California Road & Recreation Atlas: Landscape Maps, Recreation Guides, Detailed Roads, GPS Grids (Benchmark Maps) Paperback – 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This oversized guide places its "recreation maps" of the state on left-hand pages facing diverse listings (with phone numbers)...An index to recreation resources is a state tour in itself. Then come the "Landscape Maps(tm)", so three-dimensional you feel every bump in the road as well as every foothill, mountain and fault; plus more listings and a complete and seemingly infallible index -- San Francisco Chronicle, January 3, 2000<br /><br />"Landscape Maps™", so three-dimensional you feel every bump in the road...more listings and a complete and seemingly infallible index. -- The San Francisco Chronicle, December 14, 1997<br /><br />Landscape Maps featuring improved landform detail, the addition of hundreds of back roads...useful to anyone who drives the state. -- Bob Masullo, Sacramento Bee, March 31, 2002<br /><br />The Landscape Maps™ are what set this publication apart. Legibility is excellent and the maps have a clean appearance. --Kathy Rankin, Western Association of Map Librarians. March, 1998
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Benchmark Maps; 5th edition (2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0929591801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0929591803
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 10.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Louis I. Jaffe on March 23, 2004
The Benchmark state road atlases are in a class by themselves. No one else combines excellent road legibility with vivid shaded-relief imagery of the land forms.
The main competitor is DeLorme's series of state atlases. Here's how they compare: Benchmark is better for primary and secondary roads, better for labeling landmarks, far better on land forms. Benchmark also has a dedicated set of pages showing what government agencies own what lands. DeLorme is larger scale, with occasionally better detail on local features.
Neither is a definitive guide to back-country roads, although Benchmark does more to classify which roads are actually driveable vs. which are mere tracks.
Benchmark covers only the Western states, DeLorme all 50 states. For any state covered by both, I would want to have both atlases in the car, but if I had to chose just one it would be Benchmark.
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We've had excellent luck with benchmark maps in the past, especially Idaho, Oregon, and (for the most part) Washington. The ability to zoom in at 3 different levels of detail on a particular area is a major bonus. The landscape level detail typically far exceeds the Gazeteer maps. California is really out of date, however, and caused miles and miles and hours of wasted time. In particular we were traveling in Northern California, and time after time, the map failed to indicate that roads no longer were open to the public due to privatization, development, gated resort compounds, logging, etc. Mileage accuracy was also poor for the region near Mount Shasta. We traveled miles down dirt roads to find locked gates and campgrounds that no longer existed. Benchmark sorely needs an update to California. We won't give up on the company yet, but this book was truly disappointing.
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By A Customer on April 19, 2002
This series of atlases is fantastic. The relief shading adds a tremendous amount of information and without cluttering or distracting from the road detail. Absolutely great for camping in remote areas, for example. With a GPS you can practically pinpoint your location on every page.
Printing and binding are excellent. My old edition went through hell and came out battered but alive.
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Benchmark are absolutely the best road atlases out there. I have the AZ, UT, OR, and CA maps that I have purchased for trips (I use my CA one all the time, but I live here) and find them invaluable. I can always find my way when lost, and they really do a great job of showing detail that you wouldn't expect, even in metro areas. They show the most random and remote Forest Service or BLM roads, and points of interest on those roads that you would otherwise need specialty maps to see. If there's a dirt road or otherwise going there, these maps show it. Highly recommended!
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Verified Purchase
If you love California roads and traveling off the beaten path this is your guide. If you are a tourists or just passing through there are better solutions.
As an avid off-roader this is the best for the entire state.
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The main advantage of the Benchmark atlas over that of DeLorme is that topography is much more immediately visible in the landscape maps than in DeLorme atlases. In all other respects, I find DeLorme superior, offering greater detail, more of the small roads (on which I spend a fair amount of time driving), better mapping of public land ownership at fine scales, etc. Both, of course, have their own errors, however; for instance, the Benchmark map of California misplaces Three Peaks and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park north-northwest of Napa, and Benchmark's California atlas once had me back-tracking for an hour or two in the Inyo Mountains, where what the atlas showed as a single passable road degenerated into a series of ATV trails (OK, it says "high clearance", but that can mean anything from "a little rough but perfectly passable in a decent passenger car" to, in this case, "good luck even if you have a Jeep"; the gist being that the symbology indicating road quality, which many reviewers like, is not consistent or reliable, and ultimately not very useful). Of the DeLorme atlases I own, I have not happened to notice errors in California, but I have seen a number of errors for New Mexico, including misnamed county roads.

Overall, if you like atlases you should probably have both Benchmark & DeLorme. If you have to choose one, and intend on spending any time off the main highways, Benchmark is better for looking at but DeLorme is better for actual use.
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Verified Purchase
I bought this for a recent driving trip through California. I have a GPS, but it does a lousy job of giving a "big picture" view of things, while the Benchmark guide is much more useful. On the other hand, it doesn't really have enough detail for street-level navigation of major cities, but it's hard to fit street-level maps for all of California into a book that mere mortals can actually lift.
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I ride motorcycles in the southwest and have done so for years. The Benchmark titles are the best there is! I have used them with confidence and recommend them to others who ride. "Nuff said.
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