US Topo Maps Reach Milestone

Updated Illinois and South Dakota maps completes second National Map revision cycle

With the release of new US Topo maps for Illinois and South Dakota, the USGS has completed the second, three-year cycle of revising and updating electronic US Topo quadrangles. This means that since late 2009, the USGS has published nearly every map in the conterminous U.S., twice.

Nov 19, 2015 -- “The USGS and NGP are proud of our history and legacy of topographic mapping in the US,” said Mike Tischler, director of the USGS National Geospatial Program. “This latest cycle of US Topo production is a testament to the professionalism and capability of our staff and keeps that legacy alive. We've revised more than 110,000 maps in the last six years to include higher quality data across the country, and have been able to deliver those maps in an easy to use format to suit the diverse needs of our users. While reaching the end of the second-cycle is an important achievement, we look forward to the next cycle of US Topo production, and investigating emerging technologies to better serve the needs of the country.”

In the past 12 months, the production staff of the NGP has updated, revised and loaded 18,767 US Topo quads covering 18 states. That equates to the assembly, inspection and loading of nearly 75 maps per working day. Additionally, the staff created more than 635 new 1:24,000 scale maps for Alaska, as part of the Alaska Mapping Initiative. All of the new US Topo maps are digital and offered for free download, as the USGS no longer prints topographic maps using traditional printing technologies.

Other improvements to the state maps in the second-cycle include the inclusion of National Scenic Trails, “crowdsourced” trail data from the International Mountain Bike Association, increased parcel land data ( PLSS), and most recently, trail data from the U.S. Forest Service.

The complete new map sets for Illinois and South Dakota join Maine, Alabama, Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, Missouri, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and Florida  as revised states for fiscal year 2015.

All of these new US Topo maps replace the first edition US Topo maps and are available for no-cost file download from The National Map, the USGS Map Locator & Downloader website , and several other USGS applications.

The first three-year production cycle ended in September 2012, and the second cycle ended in September 2015.

To compare change over time, scans of legacy USGS topo maps, some dating back to the late 1800s, can be downloaded from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection.

Find more information on US Topo maps online.

caption below caption below
This graphic represents the planned US Topo map production schedule for the next three- year revision cycle. The US Topo project repackages data from national GIS (geographic Information system) databases as traditional maps, primarily for the benefit of non-GIS users. Unlike traditional topographic maps, US Topo maps are mass-produced from secondary sources, on a programmed refresh cycle, using the best available data at the time of production. ( high resolution image 1.96 MB) As a result of the inclusion of selected National Scenic Trail data on the US Topo maps, 13 state map series now feature National Scenic Trails, and more will be added in the coming months. These trails have been established by Congress to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, and cultural qualities of the area through which such trails may pass.

There are 11 National Scenic Trails:
  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  • Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
  • North Country National Scenic Trail
  • Ice Age National Scenic Trail
  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
  • Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
  • Florida National Scenic Trail
  • Arizona National Scenic Trail
  • New England National Scenic Trail
  • Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail
( high resolution image 63.6 KB)

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