How to Download Complete USGS Topo Maps for Free

Picture of How to Download Complete USGS Topo Maps for Free
I like maps. I own several GPS units but there is nothing like having a paper map when you're hiking the back country. I find the larger format of a map easier when aligning landmarks and better yet I don't have to worry about the batteries ever running out.
There are several places on the Internet where you can print parts of topo maps. Why have parts when you can have the whole thing. Might as well go directly to the source for the complete maps.
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Step 1: USGS web page

Picture of USGS web page
I could post a direct link to where we need to go but that wouldn't help you much if this Instructables wasn't handy so I'll show how to get there on you're own.

Point your browser at

Once you get the page loaded, click on the "Map Locator" link near the upper left corner.

Step 2: Enter Location

Picture of Enter Location
With the Map Locator page you can either click around on the map or enter the location you're interested in directly.

Let's enter in the location directly. Use my favorite hiking spot.
Dolly Sods in West Virginia.

Be sure to click on "Mark Points" radio button.

RichardM61 month ago

For Mac users MacGPS Pro software fro James Associates ( will read the free USGS geo referenced PDFs and convert them to the PICT format that it uses. You can also purchase map files from James associates for various regions, which have the advantage of being able to view adjoining maps seamlessly.

ElijahP3 months ago

Dolly Sods are excellent for sure! Try to make it there twice a year.

wow, this is great. I have always wondered if there was a database that compiled these maps and distributed them for free. Great find and great instructable. thanks!

Ernest121 year ago
This worked fine for me, Thank You for a great instructable. I didn't have to down load any software, and I am running Linux.
Madddog3 years ago
The download is done with the "TerraGo" software??
It seems you have to download their software or am I missing something ??
Anyway, I'm on an iMac and it's Windows only, so I guess I'm screwed...
WVvan (author)  Madddog3 years ago
I just checked the USGS site and something is going on. Maybe it's a temporary glitch. I'll check back later and update the instructable if needed.
WVvan (author)  WVvan3 years ago
OK it's working now. You don't need the TerraGo software to download the maps. I'm using a linux machine so it wouldn't have worked for me either.
Be sure to check "MARK POINTS" on the right side of the screen then just left click once on the map and wait. Takes a few seconds before the read marker shows up where you clicked. Left click on the red marker to see what maps are available.
lucasaf3 years ago
I am not sure if i did right, but there is only one map of 1973 in my that correct?
WVvan (author)  lucasaf3 years ago
What is the location you searched on?
lucasaf WVvan3 years ago
I search in MA Plymouth...the map is very old...i did what you said on your text!
WVvan (author)  lucasaf3 years ago
I just did search on Plymouth MA and found a map dated 2009 and an older one for 1977.
paulijames3 years ago
Great information! Thanks.