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 (7.5-minute, 1:24,000-scale) published by the USGS after 2010.

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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...

Why don’t all USGS 7.5 minute topographic maps show the UTM grid?

For maps in the Historical Topographic Map Collection (1884-2006): Through time, policies have changed regarding whether or not a full UTM grid would appear on the 7.5-minute map series. Beginning in the mid 1950's, the grid was indicated by blue ticks around the map at 1000 meter spacing. In 1979, the ticks were replaced with a full-line black...

What does the term UTM mean? Is UTM better or more accurate than latitude/longitude?

UTM is the acronym for Universal Transverse Mercator, a plane coordinate grid system named for the map projection on which it is based (Transverse Mercator). The UTM system consists of 60 zones, each 6-degrees of longitude in width. The zones are numbered 1-60, beginning at 180-degrees longitude and increasing to the east. The military uses their...

How are UTM coordinates measured on a USGS topographic maps? Are UTM ticks shown on all topographic maps?

The UTM ( Universal Transverse Mercator ) coordinate system divides the world into sixty north-south zones, each 6 degrees of longitude wide. UTM zones are numbered consecutively beginning with Zone 1, which includes the westernmost point of Alaska, and progress eastward to Zone 16, which includes Maine. If UTM ticks are shown on a USGS...

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...

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...

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...

Are Forest Service maps updated regularly?

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

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Screenshot of map corner showing two grid lines and their UTM coordinates

UTM and latitude/longitude coordinates on a topographic map

US Topo map showing latitude and longitude of the corner (38°N, -115.8750°W) and brown UTM gridlines (4,206,000 meters northing and 599,000 meters easting)