USGS Topographical Maps, Helping You Plan Your Way to Success

Arquivo em: Map Printing / August 21, 2017

topographical maps

Produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) branch of the government, topographical maps offer a wealth of information, including natural features like elevation and terrain, as well as cultural ones like roads and buildings. Multifunctional and versatile, they are used in a variety of industry sectors (military, oil and gas, engineering, land management, urban planning), as well as for individual recreational purposes like national park trips and hiking adventures.

Always More to Explore

Available in a variety of scales, there’s always more to explore and chart as you leverage the various levels of detail available with topographics. Proportionate to the scale of the map, the larger the map scale, the more detail shown. The most popular, 1:24,000-scale or 7.5-minute maps, depict considerable detail, with 1 inch representing 2,000 feet, displaying paths and building features over a small site. Need a bird’s eye view of a wider area? Small scale maps, such as 1:1,000,000-scale, cover a greater geographic area. Need a close-up of features? Large scale maps, such as 1:1,250-scale, reveal a small area (for example, a neighborhood or college campus) in very great detail.


Getting Lost in Maps

USGS topographicals offer a maze of maps. All are not copyrighted, offering a great resource for your next printing project. Unfortunately, it’s easy to spend hours getting lost exploring the USGS vault. In addition to topographical world maps, state maps, county maps, and national park maps, the site also offers a veritable cornucopia of additional map data: Historic. Bathymetric. Geologic. Hydrologic. Earthquake, volcano, tsunami, and landslide maps. Water, gas, and coal. Even space maps. Possibilities are as limitless as the time you have to explore them.  Thus, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for before you get started in your map printing endeavor, lest you get lost in your travels.


Navigating Online Topos Resources

You can access USGS topographicals online, quickly accessing necessary resources for mapmaking or personal use. Simply locate your area of interest, and select and download pertinent, georeferenced, PDF, vector-based, or rasterized files. Easy-to-alter data layers can be turned on/off as needed. Just keep in mind, however, files are not small, with a median size of 22MB. What’s the difference between USGS sites?

  • USGS Historical Topographical Map Collection
    This site offers free mapping data from 1882-2006, allowing for search by location or purpose.
  • The National MapDownload Client
    Though the USGS created topos for over 125 years, as of 2009, they were passed on/subdivided into the National Geospatial Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. Dubbed ‘topos,’ this new generation of maps is entirely computer-generated, and produced on a 3-year production cycle. For a more in-depth ‘how-to’ and information on the new topos program, check out this handy USGS ‘User’s Guide.’ (


Finding Your Way

Because at MapPrinter, we know issues are more easily avoided than corrected, we want to help ensure a smooth journey for your mapmaking endeavors, beginning with printer consultation prior to file creation, all the way through to your spectacular finished product. Thus, for those relatively new to the map printing process as well as those setting off on a new map printing journey, the MapPrinter, step-by-step map printing guide is highly recommended before getting started on your digital file to avoid wasted time and resources.


Ready to begin your map printing journey? Before you begin sourcing topographical maps, contact us to learn more about the ways you can pave a smooth, successful path to success. From the first-time mapmakers to industry authorities, we know the map printing landscape. Ensure problem-free, professional results. Contact MapPrinter today.