Avoid smacking low bridges with this new 2020 Road Atlas


By Chuck Woodbury
The new edition of the premier guide to off-limit highways for large RVs has just been published for 2020. While it’s designed for big rig truckers, it should be a must-have for RVers who travel in unfamiliar territory with recreation vehicles over about 11 feet tall.

We used this when we spent four months traveling from Seattle to Nova Scotia and back with our Winnebago View. In the Midwest and East, especially, some bridges and tunnels along old or minor highways are too low to even accommodate an RV of the View’s size (less than 12 feet). Our basic GPS did not warn us of low bridges, nor would a non-specialized smartphone app.

American truckers rely on Rand McNally’s Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. Just like with trucks, there are roads where RVs do not belong — without slamming into bridges or tunnels.

One way to avoid these RV busters is with a specialized GPS. But they’re expensive. Many RVers these days use their smartphones to guide them. But smartphones don’t show low bridges.

That’s where Rand McNally’s Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas saves the day. It shows every highway in North America where trucks can pass. And if a truck can pass, so can an RV. Use this atlas as your guide and you’ll never go bump and grind, and end up with a tow to an RV junkyard. The Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas also includes a highway-by-highway list of all low-clearance locations.

We found the new 2020 edition at Amazon at a large discount but you should be able to find it at a large bookstore or Camping World. Just be sure to check that it’s the new 2020 edition.

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Gene Bjerke

We use Allstays to find campgrounds. A couple of years ago we turned it on and it warned us that the road we were on had a bridge with 8-foot clearance. I didn’t know that the app had that feature but it saved us a lot of trouble.


The atlas is large and heavy so I only take the appropriate pages with me on a trip. (I check out expected routes before leaving home, but plans change and detours happen.)

I bought “loose leaf binder, split rings” to hold the trip pages together and removed the spiral binding. Using eight rings in the 3/4 to 1 inch diameter range is about right. You can find them on Amazon by searching for: Book Loose Leaf Binder Ring Keychain Key Rings

I use large binder clips to hold the pages together that I’m leaving at home.

Even though the atlas is large, the map features are tiny. A magnifying glass comes in handy.

Jennifer R

We were disappointed to learn that this oft-recommended road atlas does not have the low bridges and non-truck-friendly roads marked ON the actual map. They are instead on a list by state. We have painstakingly marked each on the actual maps (for 3 states so far) and were surprised to discover that some of the yellow routes (which I thought were truck-safe) were also listed on the “no trucks” list. This doesn’t mean that the atlas is not useful, but be advised that some effort may be required to provide the information expected.