Whenever you’re in a remote or unfamiliar area, a topographic map and compass are a must.
Topographic maps are often created from aerial photographs and reveal the contours of the land, including hills, ridges, and valleys, as well as lakes, rivers, creeks, trails, and roads.
- Contour lines show the elevation of the ground.
- Contour intervals reveal how much vertical distance there is between each contour line—closely spaced contour lines indicate very steep slopes.
- Contour lines that are sharply tapered indicate an uphill direction.
- Rounded contour lines typically indicate a downhill direction.
Topographic maps are available at many outdoor stores or may be ordered from:
U.S. Geological Survey
Branch of Distribution
P.O. Box 25286
Denver, CO 80225
National Forest Service Travel Maps show forest road networks and restrictions. They are available from the U.S. Forest Service.