Whether you're a "windshield tourist" who rarely leaves the pavement or a serious backcountry hiker, you'll find plenty of high-tech aids to navigation. GPS units, apps for smart phones and other electronic devices offer a growing number of alternatives to traditional paper maps.
Both approaches clearly have their pros and cons—and their fans. It's hard to beat a traditional paper map when you want to get the big picture of an area or your route, and for backcountry users, the venerable topographic map offers details that can be critical to survival. Although figuring out how to refold that old-school map can sometimes be a pain, there's no denying their major advantages: they'll work anywhere, and the battery never dies.
A GPS and other electronic travel aids, on the other hand, might offer more current information than a paper map, can search out local services such as restaurants and gas stations, and can be read in the dark without a flashlight. Some devices, such as electronic versions of topographic maps, try to combine the best of both worlds.
Cautious travelers realize that directions from a GPS can sometimes lead the unwary into difficult or even dangerous situations. In some cases, route information is wildly inaccurate, and park visitors have died after following faulty directions and becoming stranded in remote locations.
So...what's your preference for navigating to—and through—a park? Do you still unfold a trusty paper map, rely on a high-tech device, or use a combination of the two?
Have you had any personal adventures—or misadventures—as a result of using either an old- style map or an electronic version?