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Old 08-17-2009, 11:09 PM
 
3 posts, read 12,080 times
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We recently visited Iowa and plan to return in a few weeks. We greatly enjoyed traveling on some of the back roads, keeping away from the 4-lane highways.

From what I recall in traveling there the state has a great deal of gravel roads. When using an Iowa State map is there a way of identifying which roads are gravel versus paved? I commonly see roads such as G47 or F33, etc., as well as Hwy 20, or Hwy 30, etc. Is there any rhyme or reason to the letters or numbers to help identify which ones are the gravel roads?

We would prefer to miss the gravel roads, but still visit some of the smaller towns in Iowa. Any pointers you can provide would be appreciated.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:32 PM
 
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The Iowa Highways Page

Here is a website I found about Iowa roads. It includes information about county, scenic and historic roads
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:04 AM
 
Location: Coralville/Ames, IA
267 posts, read 1,170,247 times
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Highways 20 and 30 are US Highways, and are 2 to 4 lanes. These are usually more heavily traveled, and in the case of 20 and 30, are often basically like Interstates. Those have the funny-shaped signs. (Look on Google Maps or an atlas if you don't know what I'm talking about with the shapes, you'll see it. I can't describe it...)

The round-signed Iowa state highways, like Hwy. 1 south of Iowa City, are usually 2-lane, or occasionally 4. (an example being Hwy. 163 SE of Des Moines)

Highways designated with a letter and two numbers, like W66, are county highways. These are usually less traveled, 2-lane roads that may be more like what you are looking for. In my experience, these are always paved. The gravel roads in my area are usually given a normal street name, like 250th St. or Taft Ave.
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:16 AM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,900,509 times
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Looking at the online .pdf of the state map, it looks like they don't put many gravel roads on the map at all. When they do, it looks like they are dashed grey lines = = = = = =.

In general, any of the state highways (round circle and number) are your quieter, two lane roads. State designated scenic routes (shown as red dots on the map) are also more likely to be paved and in good shape. With the county roads (J14, X22, etc.) it's a crapshoot.

Stick to the state highways and you should be fine.

http://iowahwypix.tripod.com/ic/ia1signs.jpg (broken link)
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:24 AM
 
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I've been on enough gravel roads in my life, but if you're looking at a map, I've always had everything be at least asphalt.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Scott County, IA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpHawkeye View Post
Looking at the online .pdf of the state map, it looks like they don't put many gravel roads on the map at all. When they do, it looks like they are dashed grey lines = = = = = =.

In general, any of the state highways (round circle and number) are your quieter, two lane roads. State designated scenic routes (shown as red dots on the map) are also more likely to be paved and in good shape. With the county roads (J14, X22, etc.) it's a crapshoot.

Stick to the state highways and you should be fine.
Wow, that is a busy map. And it still doesn't have the gravels on there .

On that same site, if you go to the county by county .pdf maps, the road types are clearly marked per the legend. I made sure the info was correct by studying my home county, Clinton, whose gravels are intimately known to me.

Thanks for the link to the map site, SharpHawkeye.
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Old 08-18-2009, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Marion, IA
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Anything on the map is paved. Everything else is gravel or mud. If you want to see the gravel roads buy a Gazettier.
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:55 PM
 
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The official Iowa highway maps usually show gravel roads as a black dashed line, while paved county roads are a solid gray line and paved state roads are a solid black line. Paved US highways will be a solid red or double orange line.

Any road that is marked as a US or State Highway will be paved. Nearly all county roads are paved, or at least have a bitumen surface (a black tar-like substance). The gravel and dirt roads will be all the filler roads between, usually named after trees or large numbered streets like 1200th St. Iowa's road system is based on a mile by mile grid, so we do have a significant amount of gravel and dirt roads. If you somehow get off the highway and wind up on a gravel road that turns to dirt with a sign that says "Level B maintenance road," turn around because Level B roads are typically ones that the state has no money to maintain any longer and are normally very muddy or poorly graded. These are usually far off the beaten path, though.



As long as you are staying on labeled highways, you shouldn't encounter any gravel.
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Old 08-19-2009, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Scott County, IA
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You almost have to be looking for a maintenance road to find one...
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:00 AM
 
11,289 posts, read 24,390,396 times
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I thought the OP was trying to MISS the gravel roads? If this is the case, just get a state transportation map.
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