How can I find the average elevation of a county?

Specific data for average (or mean) county elevations for the United States are not presently available from the USGS. 

You can use the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) query form to find an elevation on the centroid location of a county polygon by searching on a feature name, such as "County", with the "Civil" feature class. To get to the query form, go to this website and click "Search Domestic Names."

Elevations for populated places can be found by downloading the Populated Places topical gazetteer from GNIS. The archive (.zip) file contains a pipe (|) delimited text file containing all populated places to include elevations in meters and feet.

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Where can I find a 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) DEM status map and get information on recent updates?

Status maps showing 3DEP product availability and recent updates can be found on the 3DEP Product Availability web page. Areas containing recent updates are refreshed on a monthly basis. Spatial metadata shapefiles showing the updated areas for each product are also available for download from the 3DEP Product Metadata web page. Product updates...

At what scales are contours visible in the TNM Viewer?

The 500-foot contours are shown at a scale of 578K in base maps, while 100-foot contours are visible at 289K/144K and 50-foot contours are visible at 72K. Large scale contours from US Topo products are shown from 36K to 18K, and in dynamic base map services for scales larger than 18K.

What is the vertical accuracy of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) DEMs?

The most recently published figure of absolute vertical accuracy of the 3DEP DEMs within the conterminous United States, in terms of the National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy (NSSDA) at 95% confidence level, is 3.04 meters. It is important to note that the vertical accuracy actually varies significantly across the U.S. because of differences...

What are the projection, horizontal and vertical datum, and resolution for 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) standard DEMs?

All 3DEP seamless DEMs are provided in geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) in units of decimal degrees, horizontally referenced on the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83). All elevation values are in units of meters, typically referenced to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88), although the National Geodetic Vertical...
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Date published: January 24, 2017

Maps Made with Light Show the Way

The topic, officially, was water. But during a scientific conference in Butte, Montana, in 2013, earthquake expert Michael Stickney glimpsed something unexpected in a three-dimensional lidar image of the Bitterroot Valley in nearby Missoula.

Date published: March 24, 2016

3D Elevation – We’ve Got You Covered in all 50 States

How 3D Elevation Can Benefit Each State and Puerto Rico

Date published: December 17, 2015

Mapping the National Parks

The national parks of the United States are often compared to, and indeed inspire, works of art. In fact, the USGS has been regularly contributing new and updated works of art for the national parks—maps.

Date published: May 14, 2014

Meeting the Elevation Needs of the Nation

Want to know how elevation will benefit your state? The USGS National Geospatial Program is advancing the 3D Elevation Program, known as 3DEP, in response to the growing need for high-quality three-dimensional representations of the Nation’s natural and constructed features.

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May 11, 2018

New 3D Model of the Drained Crater at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō

During an overflight on May 11, we collected thermal images of the crater at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and created an updated 3D model of the crater geometry. The collapse on April 30 produced a large cavity, with the deepest point roughly 350 m (1150 feet) below the crater rim.

video thumbnail: Elevation
April 30, 2012


The National Elevation Dataset (NED) is the primary elevation data product produced and distributed by the USGS National 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). The NED provides seamless raster elevation data of the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories. The NED is derived from diverse source data sets that are processed to a specification with a

Image: USGS Elevation Monument
January 1, 1905

USGS Elevation Monument

USGS elevation monument for a level line run from Mojave, California to Keeler, California. The line ran through such places as 18-Mile Station, Dixie, Indan Wells, Little Lake, and Olancha. Elevations were based on Benecia datum.