Topographic Maps from US Forest Service or US Geologic Service

A map — one of the ten essentials.

Anyone going to the back country needs a decent map. Most outdoor stores sell 7.5 minute topographic maps (maps with contours). But there are great online resources to download and buy topo maps. is a great resource for generating Geospatial PDFs. You can center the map at your particular latitude/longitude instead of trying to span multiple quadrangles. Then you get a URL that you can use to download your PDF for printing.

United States Forest Service

The USFS has a site for downloading PDFs of their format called “FSTopo GeoPDFs”. These maps can be viewed any usual PDF reader and printed out.

This example of a GeoPDF shows the following

  • The printed output side
  • The product generation date
  • UTM and latitude/longitude
  • Legend, including adjoining quadrangles
  • Scale and magnetic delcination are also on these maps
  • The GeoPDF file size in MB


United States Geologic Survey

The USGS has a site that is a map locator and download site. You can download 7.5 and 15 minute maps

The USGS Topos have a different features set

  • US-Topo-Map-Symbols
  • A satellite image is included in the GeoPDF, making the file slightly larger
  • If you wish to print with out the satellite, then you have to use a GeoPDF plugin to disable the image layer.


Live Online map of select USGS Maps