What Are USGS Topo Maps?
If you’re looking for topographic maps for the United States, the first place to look is the USGS topo maps series.
Since 1884, the purpose of these general-use maps has been to display the complex, changing geography of the United States.
This includes hydrography, place names, contour lines, and cultural features of the nation.
So how do you get your hands on USGS Topo Maps? We show you 2 quick ways to download USGS Topo Maps.
How to Download Free USGS Topo Maps with the National Map Viewer
Currently, the most recent version is published as “US Topo” and stored in digital format on the TNM Viewer.
Depending on your needs, you can choose “US Topo” or “Historical Topographic Maps” in the TNM Viewer. Otherwise, you can download the raw vector and raster GIS datasets in the bottom option.
By default, your current extent is the search area. However, you can enter latitude and longitude coordinates or draw a polygon extent to change it. Also, you can filter by date period in the advanced option.
Finally, you can click “Find Products” if you want the current “Topo Maps” or the “Historical Topographic Maps” version. From here, it’s a matter of adding your items to your cart and downloading it as a PDF.
For the US Topo maps that you want to download, simply click the “Download” button under the “Cart” tab.
Of course, the advantage of the TNM viewer is that you can preview the USGS Topo Map before you download it. Unless you want topo maps in Alaska, they are based on 1:100,000 and 1:24,000 scales.
How to Download Historical USGS Topographic Maps with TopoView
One of the neatest things about USGS topographic maps is how some of them date back to 1884. Like a time capsule, you can really explore these historical maps in the USGS TopoView application
As part of the Historic Topographic Map Collection (HTMC), you can filter USGS historical topographic by time period. Simply, move the time slider and it will filter and preview the Topo maps.
Similar to the TNM Viewer, add items to your cart that you want to download. To do that, you have to click anywhere on the map. Also, you can preview the topo map in the viewer which is a neat function.
From here, you can download the JPEG, KMZ, GeoTIFF, or GeoPDF by clicking the option on the right.
The USGS TopoView was specifically designed for time. Because you can preview images and filter with a time slider, these qualities make TopoView extremely intuitive for the end-user.
USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer
The USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer is an Esri web application that is part of the Living Atlas of the World. Not only can you compare maps using transparency sliders, but you can also download them.
First, type in a city name in the search and click enter. Secondly, this will zoom you in to your area of interest. Once you click on the map, it will display all the options you have to download topographic maps.
You don’t need an ArcGIS Online account to download any of the topographic maps. Simply, click the “Download” button in the left panel and you will be able to obtain a copy of the topographic map.
Web Services (WMS) or Physical Prints
PDFs and raw data aren’t the only two ways to view USGS topographic maps.
When you just want physical prints, you can visit the USGS store to get them delivered at a cost.
Overall, the natural and physical landscapes in the USGS topo maps have become an extremely valuable base map source of data. Check out these sources and see for yourself.