Outdoor Photographers: Nat Geo Made a Website to Easily Print Detailed Maps for Free

Outdoor Photographers: Nat Geo Made a Website to Easily Print Detailed Maps for Free

For outdoor and adventure photographers, knowing your terrain and location is essential for a safe journey. With that in mind, National Geographic created an easy-to-use website to find and print USGS quad maps to use for planning or while out on assignment.

While these maps were available before, the National Geographic website makes is more simple than ever to get what you need quickly. Using the interactive map, you zoom in on a location you are interested in until you see red flags. Clicking on the red flag gives you a preview of the PDF quad which you can then open to inspect or print. According to the site, the PDF quads are pre-processed to print on standard letter-sized paper and are the same USGS maps that have been available for decades.

From the National Geographic website:

They are pre-packaged using the standard 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 base but with some twists:

  • Page 1 is an overview map showing the Quad in context
  • Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS Quads cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
  • Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topography

Example of the interactive map.

[via Reddit]

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Liam Doran's picture

thanks for the heads up. I usually download topos to my phone which works well but I would like the larger size of an actual print...makes it easier to navigate IMO.

Ryan Mense's picture

I do the same thing for the most part, but also I like to tuck away a physical map in case something happens to my phone if I'm in a totally new location.

'Free'. You obviously haven't seen my printer's ink bill!

Ryan Mense's picture

Haha, very true!

Great, unless you want a map for Guam or CNMI...

Jeff Colburn's picture

This is really cool, thanks.

Have Fun,

Ryan Mense's picture

Happy to share it

Jim Bolen's picture

One thing I would like to add is that NG's waterproof paper is fantastic! I cross country ski and I always take printed maps with me. I've buried the paper under snow and they still look great.
Thanks for the heads-up on this site!