How to Download Complete USGS Topo Maps for Free




Introduction: 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.

Step 1: 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

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.

Step 3: Download Maps

After you enter a location the center of the page will look like below.
The black lines mark the "map footprints" which is the edges of the 1:24,000 scale (AKA 7.5 Minute series) USGS topographic quadrangle maps. This can be changed with the drop-down menu on the right. The black text with yellow highlight is the name of that particular map. In this case it's "Blackbird Knob".
If you entered a location it should be represented on the map by a red colored  inverted teardrop shaped marker.

Left click on the red marker and you will see a pop-up that shows all the topo maps that are available for that area.

In this case there are four maps listed. Two different 7.5 Minute maps. One updated in 1982 and the other last updated on 1998.

The Kingwood 30 minute by 60 minute (1:1000,000 scale metric) quadrangle map last revised in 1981 and the Cumberland 1x2 degree (1:250,000 scale) map.

Click on the download link next to which map you'd like a copy of. The map image you receive might not be exactly centered. I guess it was someone's job to take every USGS topo map and feed them to a scanner.  That person must of had their off days because some maps are better centered than others.

Step 4: More Maps

If I'm interested in one map I'll usually want the ones surrounding it. To check out other quadrangles just left click on a different map and the pointer will appear. Click on the pointer and like before it will list the topo maps available for that area.




    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest

    13 Discussions

    Thanks, this is very helpful for my area in western colorado for on but all 71/2 minutes I have are too much for me anymore.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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...

    2 replies

    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.

    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.

    I am not sure if i did right, but there is only one map of 1973 in my that correct?

    3 replies

    I search in MA Plymouth...the map is very old...i did what you said on your text!

    I just did search on Plymouth MA and found a map dated 2009 and an older one for 1977.