The current state highway map, released last July, is much more readable and colorful than its predecessors. However, the Utah Department of Transportation promises an even better map is yet to come.
The Olympic Games version of the state highway map is expected to be published this fall and will be more readable, will be printed on a higher-quality paper and will likely contain some Olympics venues maps and other new features.
According to UDOT spokeswoman Amanda Covington, the map could also be published into more than its usual four languages — English, German, Spanish and Japanese — just for the Olympics. While 380,000 of the current highway map were initially printed, many more of the new version will be published in anticipation of Olympic visitors.
"We hope everyone will have one in their hands," Covington said of the Olympic visitors. "We also hope they will use it to venture into our tourist spots."
UDOT is also rushing to obtain some of the latest 2000 Census figures for use with the new map.
"We'd like to make it as up-to-date as we can," Covington said.
UDOT can update the map much quicker and easier than in the past because it is now based on digital technology. This new process will allow the map to be revised annually, or at least as needed, when formerly, a new one was only completed every four to five years.
Covington said response to the latest map has been excellent.
Tracie Cayford, communications director for the Utah Travel Council, agrees.
"We're tickled to have it," she said. "The map has been very popular."
Cayford said the Travel Council is down to its last eight boxes of the current map. The state map is actually a joint project between UDOT and the Travel Council, and she's heard nothing but compliments on the current map.
She stressed the best part of the map is that it is always free.
Pre-2000 state maps contained some significant errors in mountain-peak elevations. However, the newest version has corrected all those mistakes.
How do you know if you have the newest state map? The older 1995 map has a skier and Bryce Canyon National Park on its cover. The new map is more colorful with a skier flying at a Utah resort on one side of its "double cover" and a hiker leaping through the Windows formation in Arches National Park on the other cover.
The current map uses better paper than in the past and will last longer than previous versions. Other improvements include the addition of Logan and St. George maps, more readable freeway exit numbers and an expanded Wasatch Front close-up map.
About the only thing currently lacking is an online version of the map. That could come sometime in the future, too.
The free road maps are available at Utah's five "Welcome Centers"; the Utah Travel Council at Council Hall, located south of the State Capitol; the Salt Palace tourist office; or any UDOT regional office.
Those unable to go to one of those locations and receive a map may call UDOT at 965-4000 and have one mailed to them or may call the Utah Travel Council at 538-1030.