Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Topographic Map Resources for Teachers

Topics: Maps, topographic maps, elevation

Length: Varies

Type of Resource Being Described: Various Links


This directory level site includes links to various resources on topographic maps, how to obtain them, read them, their history, and map projections and includes links to various teaching activities and modules. It is the one-stop shop for learning about, using, and teaching topographic map concepts.


  • Topographic map information
  • Map projections
  • map reading
  • Topographic teaching resources


USGS Resources for Working with Topographic Maps

Downloading and Purchasing USGS Topographic Maps

Download free digital topographic maps in a GeoPDF format by going to the USGS Store and clicking on "Map Locator & Downloader". Users have the option of selecting two different kinds of topographic maps. Both can be downloaded in a digital format for free or ordered as a paper product:

  • US Topo Maps - The same 7.5-minute quadrangles as our historical topographic maps, but generated entirely by computer. Updated every three years, these maps have different layers that can be turned on and off.
  • "Historical" topographic maps - These are high-resolution scans (400 ppi to 508 ppi) of existing paper maps. They are available at all scales and in all editions.

To browse popular thematic maps, go to the USGS Store and click on "Education Products"

Questions? Need help? Call 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747) or submit your question online.

What's New?


Interpreting Topographic Maps

Coordinates, Datums, and Projections

Using Topographic Maps

Lessons and Activities