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US Geological Survey (USGS) Topographic Maps


The US Geological Survey has made its standard topo maps available for download through The National Map Viewer.  NOTE – through research I have found that the USGS topo Store is a better place to go to download the maps.  Click here to go to the store

There are now in .pdf format, which is a digital file format which has a couple of unique capabilites:

  1. Layers can be turned on and off – see the snapshot to the right.
  2. There is an ortho image behind the map now (that’s cool)
  3. I believe there are some very cool tools within a plugin for Acrobat called “geo-pdf” which adds GIS capabilities.
Below is a snapshot of the Pasadena quadrangle.

Pasadena Quad

More information about the maps

US Topo is the next generation of digital topographic maps from USGS.  Arranged in the traditional 7.5-minute quadrangle format, digital US Topo maps are designed to look and feel like the traditional paper topographic maps for which the USGS is so well known. At the same time, US Topo maps provide modern technical advantages that support wider and faster public distribution and enable basic, on-screen geographic analysis for all users.  US Topo maps are available free on the Web. Each map quadrangle is available as a GeoPDF® file created from key layers of geographic data – orthoimagery (2010 NAIP), roads, geographic names, contours, and hydrographic features – found in The National Map, which is a nationwide collection of integrated data from local, state, federal, and other sources.  The National Map data layers make up the US Topo products and much of these data are available for download through The National Map Viewer (nationalmap.gov/viewer).  Stay tuned for additional emails soon from us about these digital resources (data download and consumable map services).

Note that California also played a significant role in developing end user requirements for the US topo.  There were a number of interviews and workshops that took place across the state in 2008 and 2009.  These gathered information from many of you as private sector, educational, and local, state, and federal government customers on the direction for future USGS mapping products and services – including US Topo.

The US Topo News Release refers to the USGS Store at the place to go for the new maps.  Visit the USGS Store site at store.usgs.gov.  Then click on the “Map Locator & Downloader” in the center of the page.  From there you can locate your favorite maps in CA by searching by map or place name or by pan/zoom on the viewer.  Maps are available as GeoPDF® files for free download.  Besides the map downloads at the Store, we have lots of information on US Topo and related products.

1. US Topo information is online at
http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/        (main page)
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3108/      (fact sheet)

2. A Users Guide to US Topo and other USGS GeoPDF® products is available here:

3. There is a good FAQ section too.  It has information for queries such as bulk data downloads (Q2 under Product Access and Download ) and GIS formats (Q6 under Product Use).  See:

4. News items and tweets on the USGS National Geospatial Program are at

5. We welcome your comments and suggestions about new US Topo maps.  Please submit comments online at

While downloading US Topo maps and looking around the USGS Store. you will also notice that the digital historical topographic maps for California are available.  We had announced the historical topo maps release before but this is a good time for a reminder.  The historical map collection includes over 13,700 historic maps across the state with some maps dating back over 100 years.  All published map scales are available, including: 7.5-minute (1:24,000), 15-minute (~1:63,000), 30-minute (1:100,000), and 1×2 degree (1:250,000).  For dataset needs that cover the entire state, please contact Carol or Drew.

Like with US Topo, we have lots of additional information on the historical map collection and the program that produced them.  For example:

1. Information about the USGS historical topographic map collection and the historical quadrangle scanning project can be found here:
http://nationalmap.gov/historical/     (main page)
       http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3009/      (fact sheet)

2. We have a 19 minute video from the September 2011 International Map Trade Association Conference on distribution of USGS historical topo maps:

3.  See a press release on the historical topographic map collection.  The article is from late 2011 but provides good additional information on the project:

Using GIS Data on this site

GIS Data downloaded from this site generally requires GIS software to view. Click here for a list of GIS Data Viewers

GIS data available on this website is provided AS IS - please read the GIS Data Portal Terms of Use

Data Field Descriptions

GIS Source Information
Database Name:
Feature Class Name:
Feature Dataset Name (if applicable):
Reference Date:
Accuracy: Other
Update Frequency: Other
Access Constraints:None

Contact Information
Drew Decker
Geospatial Liaison
US Geological Survey
NSDI Partnership Office
4165 Spruance Road
Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 225-6430

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