National Geographic has built an easy to use web interface that allows anyone to quickly find any 7.5 minute topographic map in the continental U.S.A. for downloading and printing. Each topo has been pre-processed to print on a standard home, letter size printer. These are the same topos that were printed by USGS for decades on giant bus-sized presses but are now available in multi-page PDFs that can be printed just about anywhere. They are pre-packaged using the standard 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 base but with some twists:
- Page 1 is an overview map showing the topo in context
- Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS topo cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
- illshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topography
Zoom into your area of interest or use the search box to look for a Quad. Red pointers will appear at the center of each USGS 7.5 minute quad, click on the pointer to download the multi-page PDF. After zooming into your area of interest you may see a green polygon. These polygons show the outlines of National Geographic's Trails Illustrated maps. The Trails Illustrated maps are based on the USGS quads but are updated and have much more accurate and up-to-date outdoor recreation information.