What Is a Topographical Map?

What Is a Topographical Map?Topographic maps are a type of map established and maintained by the United States Geology Society and other private educational establishments worldwide. Topographic maps differ slightly from standard maps and can be found on the USGS website, locally or at libraries around the world. Topographic maps may also be used in combination with road, physical and resource maps.

Contour Lines

One of the key features of a topographic map is contour lines. These lines help explain elevation changes and identify types of terrain in a particular area.

Man Made Features

A topographic map displays man-made features such as buildings, bridges, landmarks, roads and trails.

Natural Features

Natural features such as forests, lakes, streams and mountains are highlighted on the map by the use of symbols, pictures and color coded lines.

Who Uses a Topographic Map?

Outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, hikers, campers, military units and survey crews all use topographic maps for assistance, reference and to safely reach their destination.

What is a Topographic Map Used For?

Topographic maps provide a way for explorers to measure distance by landmarks and features as opposed to detailed map designs. They are also used to seek alternative routes such as back roads, flat terrain or backcountry trails in order to reach a particular destination.

Article Written By Julie Boehlke

Julie Boehlke is a seasoned copywriter and content creator based in the Great Lakes state. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Boehlke has more than 10 years of professional writing experience on topics such as health and wellness, green living, gardening, genealogy, finances, relationships, world travel, golf, outdoors and interior decorating. She has also worked in geriatrics and hospice care.

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