I posted about free downloadable USGS maps of the United States last year here: USGS Topo Maps for Free. The official USGS site is great for finding accurate small-scale (1:24,000) topo maps of whatever part of the US you would like to have. The problem with the site, or at least the maps you can get is that they don’t easily print at home because the sheets are sized for large format printers that are typically only found at commercial printing centers forcing you to download the files and pay to have them printed.
National Geographic has fixed that with the debut of a new site on their page called PDF Quads that lets you search for and download home-printable copies of every USGS quad for the US. NatGeo has packaged each quad into a 5-page package that includes:
- Page 1 is an overview map showing the Quad in context
- Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS Quads cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
- Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topography
They are sized such that you can print them from home, cut off the white edges, and tape them together to have a navigation ready map of the quad you want. The page includes and interactive, zoomable map similar to the google maps interface that lets you quickly find the map quad you are looking for and download it. I have included the PDF file for Mine Mountain in the Nevada test site so you can look at it and see what the NatGeo file looks like.
To repeat, the link to the NatGeo maps page is PDF Quads.
I am on the lookout for map products as useful the USGS quads for the rest of the world but while there are some good map sites out there, I have yet to fins free map products anywhere else in the world that come even close to matching what the USGS provides for the United States. If anyone knows of some good sites please eave a comment.