Shaded USGS Topographic Maps « GE Library Store

Shaded USGS Topographic Maps

For Google Earth

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USGS topographic maps show both natural and man-made features and are a great tool for both professional and recreational map users.  Topographic maps show and name works of nature including mountains, valleys, plains, lakes, rivers, and vegetation. They also identify man-made features, such as trails, roads, boundaries, transmission lines, and major buildings.  The information provided by topographic maps can be used for a wide variety of purposes, such as:

  • Engineering
  • Energy exploration
  • Natural resource conservation
  • Environmental management
  • Public works design
  • Commercial and residential planning
  • Outdoor activities like hiking, bicycling, camping, and fishing.

The typical topographic map covers a 7.5 x 7.5 minute area at a scale of 1:24,000 and displays elevation information using contour lines.  The maps available from this store have been modified as follows to make them more useful in the digital age.

  • Hill shading, which gives the map a 3D effect, has been added using the 10-meter National Elevation Dataset (NED).
  • The maps have been merged together to cover a 1 x 1 degree area, which typically includes 64 of the 7.5 x 7.5 maps (or about 3,000 to 4,000 square miles)
  • The borders have been removed to allow adjacent maps to join seamlessly
  • The maps have been converted to KML SuperOverlays, which can be viewed in the desktop version Google Earth

The maps align with the underlying imagery in Google Earth which allows you to adjust the transparency of the map to compare it to the aerial photography of Google Earth.  The maps can also be used as a base map for Google Earth in off-line mode when an internet connection is not available.


Each map is downloaded as a ZIP file, which vary in size from 100 to 800 megabytes.  Simply unzip the contents of the zip file into a folder and then double click on the KML file to add the map to Google Earth.

Finding Your Map:

To purchase and download a map, first locate your area of interest on the index map provided below and make a note of the map ID (eg N46W123).   Then enter the Map ID into the search box at the top of the page.  Then simply add it to your cart.

There is also a KML version of the Map Index available for download.  This will overlay an index of the available maps onto Google Earth.  Simply click on one of the rectangles to be taken to the purchase page for that map.

The maps are only available by electronic delivery only.

A free map covering the San Francisco Area of California is available so you can try a map before you buy.  Please try before you buy as there are no refunds.

Current Coverage Area Map