Want a bunch of free printable USGS topo maps of mainland United States?
These topographic maps are super helpful for hiking and camping – you’ll not only be able to see where to go, but also if you’re going up, down, or over flat land.
Produced by the National Geospatial Program under the ‘US Topo Quadrangles project’, the maps have the standard 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 modeling ratio. The 7.5-minute quad map can each be printed on one piece of paper, yet they cover an area of between 50 to 70 square miles.
How to read a topographic map
Topographic maps can be confusing if you’re not familiar with them. Here are four things to keep in mind:
The scale bar tells you the distance between the square on the map and the actual distance on the ground.
The legend tells you the features on the ground using symbols (roads, fences, tracks).
These squiggly lines show the elevation. The closer the lines, the steeper the slope. Often they’ll have numbers written next to them indicating the height above sea level.
Color helps also helps to identify features. Typically, blue is water, black is manmade and green is vegetation.
Watch the video below for a beginner course into topographic maps and contour lines.
How to Get Your Free Printable USGS Topo Maps
National Geographic has a really clean and simple way for you to get the map you want really quickly. Then, you’ll be able to save your map as a PDF. I’ll show you exactly how.
- Visit this website
- Zoom into the area you want and click on the red marker
- Click on the image and you’ll get your PDF.
You’ll have 5 pages in total.
The first one will be the entire area – with the other 4 pages the same map cut into quarters.