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A new series of road-travel guides, Frommer's "America on Wheels," is challenging the familiar Mobil Travel Guide series and American Automobile Association Tour Books. Macmillan Travel published the first four volumes at the end of April: Arizona and New Mexico; California and Nevada; Florida; the Mid-Atlantic States, comprising Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Five more volumes, due next year, will cover the rest of the country. After 1996, the books will be revised annually.

Travel writers from each region reviewed the lodgings and restaurants. They rated the lodgings after inspecting two rooms at each hotel or motel and spending at least an hour there, according to Gretchen Henderson, the project director. Lodging ratings are in flags, with an "ultra" for outstanding. Reporters did not stay overnight except at the few places in the running for an "ultra."Restaurant reviews were also written after inspection, but not necessarily after a meal, although the writers had often reviewed the food for other publications.

The write-ups are in sentences, in contrast with the telegraphic entries in the Mobil and A.A.A. guides.

Frommer's books are 71/2 by 9 inches, the same size as the Mobil Guides, and like them they contain no advertisements. But the information about attractions, both scenic and other, is fuller, more on the model of the A.A.A. books.

Color maps are included, but no photographs. Like their competitors, the new books contain coupons for discounts. The guides cost $13.95 in the United States, $19.95 in Canada.

Lake Taho fills up

A record snowpack in the Sierra this year is filling Lake Tahoe, on the California-Nevada border, for the first time since 1986 - good news for boaters, bathers and tourist businesses.

The lake rose six feet between Nov. 1 and July 31, a record increase, according to Garry Stone, federal watermaster in Reno.

One of the few benefits of those years was the increased size of some beaches as the lake receded.