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US Elevation Map and Hillshade

There are several ways to view elevation in the United States. But the most common way to see a US elevation map is by using:

  • Digital elevation model
  • Hillshade surface
  • Physical map

Let’s check out all 3 ways to see how height changes in America.

1. US Elevation Map

First, this US elevation map depicts height by increasing color. In this map, elevation ranges from 0 to 13,100 feet above sea level. For metric system users, it goes from 0 to 4000 meters. But keep in mind that some mountains extend beyond this peak elevation. For example, Denali, Alaska rises 6190.5 m and appears orange.

US Elevation Map

2. US Hillshade Map

The alternate way to view elevation is by using a hillshade surface. As the name implies, it shades peaks and valleys based on the position and angle of the sun. For example, here is a US hillshade map, which equally displays elevation. But it’s in a much more unique way and highlights peaks and valleys.

US Hillshade Map

I’ve also found a neat resource from USGS. It uses the National Elevation Dataset (NED) for shaded relief images of each state in the U.S. Click a state and see its elevation. You can also download a JPG. It’s as simple as that.

US Map Collection


  1. FYI: for the third map (US Physical Map), the number for the height of Slide Mountain (in the Catskills of New York) is the height in feet, but it is labeled meters.

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