Don’t get me started on maps

JD Harris at KFBC Radio sent me a message the other day asking me about maps. I don’t think he was ready for the glut of information I gave him. But I can’t help it. I absolutely love maps.

JD from the radio station sent me a message the other day asking me where I get my maps. I used to just buy the USGS maps at the nearest sporting goods store. Over the years, I have collected almost all the maps covering Wyoming, and even some from surrounding states. Those maps have long been the gold standard for backcountry navigation. They’re accurate, detailed, and cover a lot of territory.

But there was always the problem of the place you wanted to go being right on the edge of one of those quadrangles, or even in the corner. That meant you’d need to take two, three or even four maps with you if you wanted to be sure you never got lost.

Then I learned about MyTopo.com. A couple of guys from Montana had that same problem of needing to carry multiple maps, or tape a couple of maps together, and they also got tired of their USGS maps getting ruined from folding and refolding them, or getting them wet. So those guys found a way to solve the problem.

They applied for and got the entire data set from the USGS. They then developed a program that would stitch all that map data together, which allows you to pick any point anywhere in the country as the center of your map. They also give you several choices for scale and map size, so you can make sure you only have to carry one map. And to top it all off, their maps are water resistant and tear-proof, so they’re much more durable.

They start at about $15, so they’re more expensive than the USGS maps, but they’re more than worth it.

I don’t know how much of my explanation JD heard before his eyes glazed over. I tend to get a little passionate about maps. But I hope he heard enough to get his own map ordered.

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