Topo Maps / Trip Planning


Looking for advice. What do you guys recommend in terms of Topo/Map resources to use for planning multip-day trips on a river?

I know a few people like the DeLorme State Topographic Maps and I know National Geographic has some good stuff. I’ve also heard Garmin Mapsource is really good and also something called Map Tech?

When planning a 3-4 day trip in unfamiliar territory, I’d like the best information I can find.


Topo Maps/Trip Planning
I have found that the software ExpertGPS is spectacular for planning expeditions in the US and elsewhere. You can preview it for one month for free and it is cheap to buy. Find it at I can download topo maps(charts) and/or fairly hi-res aerial photos of most of the USA and some international sites. I use the aerial photos to identify good passages, deep water, etc. I download waypoints and the routes I plotted on ExpertGPS onto my Garmin, and vice-versa, after a trip I upload my trip onto an aerial/topo map. Makes a great log of my expeditions!



My personal experience
is with Natl Geographic TOPO and DeLorme Topo USA.

I have NG’s Mid Atlantic set ($100) which covers WV, VA, MD and DE. These are raster maps, scanned from USGS 7.5 and 100,000 prints. Very detailed, but some maps may be as much as 20 years old.

The DeLorme set (I paid $90) is great due to it’s nationwide coverage, but the maps are vector maps (digitized by some peon somewhere from the actual topos). Much info is missing, such as bathymetric features in the Chesapeake Bay or detailed cliff elevations in the WV highlands. DeLorme also has an enhanced version which should cover all my gripes, but at $100 per state. Ouch.

A friend has MapTech, and is pleased with it (again, raster maps).

I have also used for custom map prints. You choose the area and coverage you want, and for a reasonable price - compared to piecing together as many as six 7.5 topos - you get a custom printed area map on waterproof paper.


We use a bunch of stuff, but
most of what you have named, and just prior to a trip, “the bride” will use the Garmin Map source and print out all the areas that we are going to be paddling.

The printouts go in a baggie as required.

What we both like about it, is the ability to make the scale the size that is best suited for the trip.

Then we compliment it with her Map 76, which for the money has to be the best GPS going.


I have used

It’s free and easy to use online.

MSN has terraserver with photo’s that is also free

I am thinking of getting Topo. Is there anyone who has experience useing it with an E-trex GPS.


Check out

Good maps, quick service.

I do use topozone and a few other sites but when I really want decent maps, I go to the local map store, spend $6 and buy a USGS sectional of the area.

Like my daughter and I are racing an unfamiliar section of the Verde River so I bought a USGS map of the area and took it to the local photocopy store.

I showed them the 2 sections I wanted copied in full color (about a buck per copy) then I had them back them and do a heavy laminate with a hole at the top (another buck).

So for a cost of $6 for the map and $3 at Quick Print, I have a waterproof 8 1/2 x 11 waterproof map of the area we are paddling that can be tied to the kayak with a shoestring, marked with a grease pencil and is waterproof, easily accessible and durable enough for years of racing.

Great ideas and info everyone!

Thanks a lot! I’m so glad I found this site.

Check out USAPhotoMaps
You can find it at

USAPhotoMaps creates scrollable/zoomable aerial photo and topo maps from data that it downloads from Microsoft’s TerraServer Web site. Latitude/longitude at the cursor is shown. Waypoints can be displayed and transferred to/from most GPSs. Routes can be created, displayed and transferred to/from most GPSs. GPS tracks can be transferred and displayed. GPS position can be displayed. Text can be overlayed. And much more.

I’ve found it to be a great piece of software,and the greatest think about it is it’s Free!

Nat’l Geographic Topo
I just purchased the state of oregon edition and it has proven extremely useful in planning a trip down the alsea river in Oregon. The maps print nicely and the shading feature really bring the maps to life.

I just downloaded the software and played with an aerial for a few. It appears to work nicely, especially for free!