Finding Your Way Around

Some of us are born with a great sense of direction, and some of us aren’t. Whichever group you fit into, there’s a map for you.

Globes look great on your sofa table, but they’re a little difficult to pack (although we do have backpacks large enough, in case you’re determined to make it work.) Use globes to plan your future travels or to see how your current adventures fit into the world.

Don’t forget Google Earth for that preliminary scoping out the world, either. Get to know it well and you can use it (along with Google Maps and Google Sky) to figure out where you are in the world with the help of your smartphone on the trail as well.

Flat maps are the number one choice for outdoor adventure. If you’re headed to the Buffalo River, pick up one or two of our National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps of the area. They cover the most popular parts of the wilderness, from the Ozark National Forest on the Upper Buffalo down through Boxley Valley to the Little Buffalo River and beyond. Points of interest are located along the river, and the maps include UTM grids to use with a GPS device.

If you’re really looking for an adventure, pick up a topographic, or “topo” map. We don’t recommend straying off of the marked trails when there are marked trails, but learning more about your terrain by keeping a topo map with you on your journey can be a great experience. Sometimes a trail map won’t tell you which area is a steeper elevation or where there might be bluffs with great photo opportunities, and a topo map can help you with that. If you’re unsure about how to read one, ask one of our staff for a little lesson.

If you do pick up a map that you’d like to use over and over, consider having it laminated. That way, you can use a grease pencil or temporary marker to trace your route, and mark interesting things to remember on your next visit, or when you are sitting down to write about your journey. Wipe it off later and use it again.

Another long-use option is a map-printed bandana. As you can imagine, we don’t have those for all the places you’re likely to want to go, but we do have them for some popular places, like Devil’s Den. They make a fun souvenir as well as a useful map.

The leaves are turning folks – get to the woods!

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