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47892Re: GPS Routes

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  • mcooprec
    May 1, 2010
      James, I also have the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map for Zion National Park. If you are venturing off-trail, this map alone may not suffice for a safe trip. The contour lines are 100 feet apart, which omits a lot of detail. The USGS maps, on the other hand, provide either 40- or 80-foot contours, depending on the specific area you are viewing. TOPO! Utah provides digitally scanned versions of the USGS maps and is an excellent product. But what makes the USGS maps so valuable is their large format: you can really see a lot of terrain at full resolution (i.e., smallest contour interval) on one large sheet of paper, which gives you a perspective of how all the landscape fits together vis-a-vis your route.

      TOPO! products do have two huge advantages (besides lower cost if you're using many maps) over USGS maps, however: 1. you can customize the interval between latitude/longitude ("lat/long") or UTM grid lines and print them on the map; if you use UTM grids (which are more symmetrical than lat/long and are based on meters rather than the more abstract degrees that lat/long provides), you can guesstimate your current position on the map based on your GPS readout vis-a-vis the grid lines printed on your map. 2. TOPO! automatically generates coordinates as you move your mouse around on the map and can even record and print out GPS way points directly on the map (printing the coordinates can, unfortunately, also obscure some contour lines). If you zoom all the way in on the map before placing your GPS waypoints, my experience is that TOPO's GPS waypoints are accurate to within a few meters! To avoid cluttering the map with GPS coordinates that obscure topographic detail, I simply print only the GPS waypoint mark (a small diamond icon) and record the coordinates to my GPS device.

      Coming from out of state, I initially used the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map to formulate a provisional route that I understood may or may not have worked (in fact, my original plan was way too ambitious and technically unrealistic). Once I had devised a route that had a pretty high probability of working and my trip was beginning to take shape, I bought TOPO! Utah to fine-tune my route.

      All that said, backpacking in Utah's red-rock country requires a lot of ground-truthing, because the proverbial 39-feet-high bands of rock, dry waterfalls and rock palisades that don't show up on a topo map can get you into serious trouble.

      That's what makes this forum so indispensable. I have relied heavily on the combined firsthand knowledge of people on this forum to formulate my route for an upcoming off-trail trip. I suggest you plan your route well before you embark for Zion and run it past the good folks on this forum to see if it's doable and find out what else you might need to know, such as the probability of finding water enroute.

      Best wishes,

      --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, Ray Fink <rkf@...> wrote:
      > I have the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map of Zion NP, as
      > well as their maps for many other parks. I think they are generally
      > excellent, though of course they don't give you much detail as a 1:24K
      > USGS topo.
      > The TOPO! National Parks software works pretty well for printing custom
      > maps, I use it as well as several other topographic software packages
      > for trip planning and custom maps. The USGS maps are still the gold
      > standard.
      > Reid Preidhorsky on the Grand Canyon hikers list has done some
      > comparisons of printed maps from various sources. Check those out online
      > at http://reidster.net/trips/maps/
      > -- Ray
      > jamesclark9 wrote:
      > > So I have been researching a bit on Amazon. I noticed National Geo has a hard copy topo map of Zion. The price seems to vary a bit when I look online. In addition National Geo has TOPO! National Geographic USGS Topographic Maps (Utah) and TOPO! National Parks electronic software that you can print maps from. Neither of these seem to have the extensive reviews that most Amazon.com products have. Does anyone have experience with these items?
      > >
      > > Thank You
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