US Topo topographic maps are produced by the National Geospatial Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The project was launched in late 2009, and the term “US Topo” refers specifically to quadrangle topographic maps published in 2009 and later. These maps are modeled on the familiar 7.5-minute quadrangle maps of the period 1947-1992, but are mass-produced from national GIS databases on a repeating cycle. US Topo maps repackage geographic information system (GIS) data in traditional map form; this benefits non-specialist map users, as well as applications that need traditional maps.
US Topo maps can be downloaded free of charge from several USGS interfaces. The maps are published in Portable Document Format (PDF) with geospatial extensions (GeoPDF®). They can be viewed and printed with Adobe Reader or comparable PDF viewing software. The geospatial extensions provide limited GIS functionality, such as displaying ground coordinates and measuring distances and areas.
Layered PDF files allow users to turn data layers on and off. The maps include layers not present on most traditional topographic maps, such as aerial photo and shaded relief images. The US Topo median file size is 22 megabytes.
US Topo maps are produced by the USGS National Geospatial Technical Operations Center. The first 3-year production cycle for the conterminous 48 states was completed in September 2012, and the second in September 2015. We are currently in the third cycle. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands also have US Topo coverage. Alaska has been started, and should be complete by 2018.
More information about US Topo maps:
US Topo three-year work plan
How US Topos Differ from Traditional USGS Topographic Maps
- Mass-produced from national GIS databases; no field inspection or other primary data collection.
- Computer generated; no manual drafting, very limited editing.
- A rapid (3 year) publication cycle, with continuous product improvement.
- Published as digital documents, not as paper maps.
- Basic GIS functionality with no-cost software.
- Cast on current spatial reference systems.
- Feature content is comparable to traditional maps, but with some significant additions and some omissions.
- Downloadable free of charge
The USGS values your comments about US Topo Maps. Mail can be sent to email@example.com, or contact us through the methods listed here.
Older Topographic Maps
Topographic maps originally published as paper documents in the period 1884-2006 have been scanned and are published as PDF documents in the Historical Topographic Map Collection. These can also be downloaded free of charge.