Quads And Topo Maps with Google Earth

Here is an excellent trick for getting a Topo map in your GPS . Open Google Earth.

First go to this website Quads and then download Quads Click on the downloaded kml file and you get this:

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Scroll down just a hair and you’ll see this:

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The USGS quadrangles are added. Now click what you’re looking for, in my case “Topo” You’ll get a USGS Topo Map and note that it all lines up nicely with the quadrangles.


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It would be sweet at this point if you could just save the downloaded Topo all nice and lined up with the USGS quadrangles but it isn’t that easy.


Now do this to Save it as an image


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It will create a .jpg file which can now be added to the map as an image overlay. At this point uncheck the USGS quadrangles radio button and/or any Topo buttons and you’ll get a clean map

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Now go to “Add”, “Image Overlay”

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Now select your file

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Now see that the photo has some green resizing marks and a crosshair in the middle This is for resizing and aligning the photo and this can be a whole lot of no fun. But it is doable. Also note the opacity control on the slider in the lower left hand corner. This is an invaluable tool for aligning things. Fade in and out until you get it right.

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Yer doing it.

Now click OK on the image overlay and then File Save Place as and ensure you give the file a .kmz extension. (You can see the directions here Go to this webpage and start with Step 5.)

You should save this to your Garmin/Garmin/CustomMaps directory on your device. Now I’ll demonstrate in Garmin Basecamp software what that will look like on your device.

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If you zoom in you can see its off a tiny bit here or there and if I was going to use this I’d spend more time sizing and aligning it. But it’s pretty darn close.

So there you go. National Geographic Topo Maps for free for your compatible Garmin GPS device.