How do Forest Service maps differ from USGS topographic maps?

Forest Service Visitor Maps are at a smaller scale (i.e. they show a larger area but less detail) than 7.5-minute (1:24,000-scale) USGS topographic maps and typically do not show elevation contours. 

Forest Service Visitor Maps include recreational information about camping, fishing, biking, and other outdoor activities.They might also show points of interest, area travel restrictions, visitor safety tips, local plant and wildlife, visitor centers, and ranger stations. None of those features are included on a USGS topographic map.

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How do I find, download, or order topographic maps?

Download all dates and scales of USGS topographic maps (both current US Topo maps and Historical topographic maps ) free of charge from the following applications. With the exception of GNIS, each site has an option for toggling on map indices showing an outline of all the maps, though you might need to zoom in to see the outlines: Map Locator on...

Are all US Forest Service maps available from the USGS?

Currently, some national forests have elected not to participate in the USGS map distribution program. The USGS hopes to carry all the US Forest Service visitor maps in the future. Purchase paper maps for individual national forests using the online USGS Store . Enter the name of the forest in the Keyword Search window or click on Maps/ U.S...

Why don't Forest Service maps have Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grids?

The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid is not used on the Forest Visitor Map series because of the maps’ small scale and intended use. The more detailed Wilderness and Special Area maps published by the Forest Service (some of which are available through the USGS Store ) might have UTM grid ticks. UTM grids are included on all US Topo maps (...

Are the trails and/or symbols clearly shown on Forest Service Maps? Where is the legend?

Trails and symbols US Forest Service maps are clearly shown. A comprehensive legend appears on each map. Since each map is unique, placement of the legend and symbolization might vary from map to map.

When would I use Forest Service maps?

Forest Service Visitor Maps are best used to view an entire National Forest. They are great for driving through or planning a trip to the forest and for showing recreational sites, campgrounds, public information sites, and other attractions in the forest. Wilderness maps and Special Area maps are used to illustrate specific recreation...

Are Forest Service maps updated regularly?

Yes. On average, the US Forest Service updates its maps every 2 to 7 years.

How do US Topo maps differ from historical USGS topographic maps?

Historically, USGS topographic maps were made using data from primary sources including direct field observations. Those maps were compiled, drawn, and edited by hand. By today's standards, those traditional methods are very expensive and time-consuming, and the USGS no longer has funding to make maps that way. A new USGS topographic map series...
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Date published: April 18, 2001

USGS and Forest Service to Offer One-Stop Shopping for Maps

To provide outdoor recreationists and others greater access to maps of the nation’s 192 million acres of national forests and grasslands, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Forest Service have entered into an agreement to make Forest Service maps available from the USGS.