Free Topographic Maps through Google Earth

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MapFinder: A USGS Topographic Map Index

“MapFinder for Google Earth is a “.kmz” application that loads into Google Earth and shows the 7.5 minute quad USGS topographic map boundaries for the lower 48 states.  Each boundary has an identification point that givse you information about the USGS topo map.  This information includes the map name, scale, year, projection, and contour interval.  The most exciting feature of this application is that there is a download link that enables you to download the topographic map for free.”

Here are the steps:

  1. Download Google Earth at http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html.
  2. Download the MapFinder file at http://www.usgsquads.com/mapfinder.html.
  3. Browse to and open the “.kmz” file from within Google Earth.  When it opens, you will notice a menu within Google Earth that allows you to choose a state of interest.
  4. Once you have chosen a state, zoom in on that state and you will see the topographic map boundaries, each with a clickable blue information symbol.  Hover over a particular information symbol, and you will see the name of that topo map.  Upon clicking, a web page will open, where you will see a link to download a tiff file of that map.
  5. The tiff file is your free digital copy of the topographic map.

Have fun exploring the US digitally, but I hope these maps give you the knowledge to explore in the real world as well!

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This entry was posted in Teaching Resources, Technology and tagged , , , , , by Eric Kessler. Bookmark the permalink.

About Eric Kessler

I am a high school biology teacher at Blue Valley North High School where I have taught freshman Biology and Honors Biology, Field Biology, Zoology, and AP Biology for the past 15 years. I am sponsor of the Environmental Club and our molecular modeling S.M.A.R.T. Team program. I am also the current treasurer of the Kansas Herpetological Society. Although I like most things biological, I have specific interests in the natural history of KS endemics (the outdoors) and things molecular. I am a pretty avid reader, I enjoy maintaining my website, and taking photographs. I plan on having students blogging and creating podcasts by the end of the year.

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