GPS Information

Adventure Cycling offers GPS data that you can download and use on a PC or handheld computer to build routes for a GPS device. The GPS data are not very useful alone — they are far too limited. However, a GPS unit together with the paper maps of the Adventure Cycling Route Network can improve your navigation, both on and off the route.

To download GPS data for an entire route, except the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR), select either Route GPS Waypoints or Route and Services GPS Waypoints (Members Only) at the right, then select your route of interest.

For the IHSMBR, we are providing GPX tracks instead of Route GPS Waypoints. See Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route GPS Data to right for more information.

Visit the GPS Forum to share your experiences as well as to ask and answer questions.


Adventure Cycling Association strives to keep its waypoint information up to date. However, features are continually changing, so the data may not reflect the latest modifications and/or additions. You are solely responsible for safe navigation and the prudent use of this data.

What are GPS files?

The waypoint files are keyed to the Adventure Cycling Route Network maps. We have made waypoints for each turn in the narratives and each facility in the service directories. Every waypoint has a comment that describes a town, an intersection, a service, or another point of interest.

The files also contain GPS routes — not to be confused with Adventure Cycling routes. Your receiver uses a GPS route, which connects up to 30 waypoints, to guide you along the Adventure Cycling route.

All the waypoints and routes of one section — one paper map — are in two files:

  • A routes file contains one or more GPS routes and the waypoints that lie on them, defining the main and any alternate cycling routes in the section. The route files are available to anyone.
  • A routes and services file that contains the above plus additional waypoints that locate the services described in the section’s service directory. Access to the routes and services files is a benefit of membership in Adventure Cycling.

These files use the GPX format, a public XML text format that virtually all GPS data programs can read.

Before downloading, please note:

To use these data, you will need:

  1. A GPS unit that has upload/download capabilities
  2. A PC-to-GPS interface data cable so that you may transfer the data.

When choosing a GPS unit for a long distance ride, be sure your unit has the proper functionality to easily guide you across several states and over thousands of miles. If using our GPS data, you'll want to bear in mind how many waypoints are in the GPS data file. Oftentimes the data for an entire Adventure Cycyling route will consist of hundreds, if not thousands, of route and/or service waypoints.

While many cycling-specific units (like the Garmin Edge models) are great for training and short trips, they do not have the internal capacity to store a large enough number of waypoints at one time and will require reloading data throughout the trip. To mitigate these tasks, we recommend choosing a unit with a larger waypoint capacity (strive for a maximum 2000 waypoints and 200 routes), such as the handheld units designed more for hiking and geocaching from Garmin

To transfer our data to a GPS unit, we recommend using a GPS mapping program. The major GPS vendors and many others sell GPS data programs. Most run on Windows PCs or on Macs with Windows emulation software. They fall into two categories:

  • Graphical programs show waypoints and routes on maps — proprietary maps from some vendors and general-use maps from others.
  • Text programs show lists of waypoints in text format. Some users may find the text format less intuitive than clicking on a map, but the small size of the program and the text files is a great advantage on the road with a handheld computer, for which maps may be too big. The text programs are generally cheaper than the graphical ones. Some are free.

Some desktop software possibilities include:

* You must already own MapSource™ as it is no longer being sold or developed.

Some mobile software possibilities include:

More Information

An overview of how to use the data is available in our GPS Data User Guide (PDF). Also available is a Quick Start Guide (PDF) for those already familiar with this type of program.

To decompress the Zipped files on a Windows computer, you will need a decompression program, such as PeaZipWinZip, or PKZip. Other shareware programs are available from download sites such as

For more about consumer GPS units and programs, see Joe Mehaffey, Jack Yeazel, Sam Penrod, and Allory Deiss' GPS website. The news group news:sci.geo.satellite-nav is a good place to meet GPS-equipped cyclists and experts.

Please report problems or data updates to