Welcome to this private page which I share only with my subscribers. This page will grow into a collection of tricks and tips with maps. These tips and tricks will help you to do a number of things better as an adventurer. Please feel free to comment and ask questions in our Adventure Forum near the bottom of this page.
(see method #1 below)
How & Where to Find Free,
Digital, Topographic Maps
For the avid and Wealthy Adventurer, it is essential to have access to topographic maps of the intended area(s) of exploration. In the old days, it was necessary to purchase topographic maps of distant areas, mostly through mail order. I remember sometimes paying up to $300 each for some of those maps that I needed and then having to wait for nearly a month to receive them.
Fortunately, in our modern world of technology and the internet, it is possible to shortcut this process, both in time and money. Below, I will share some of my favorite, little-known techniques for acquiring topographic maps of almost anywhere you desire.
Since I live in Ecuador, I will begin with a few examples from here. Then, I will share an example from the golden “Mother Lode” country of California. Once you get the hang of this, you should be able to search many other parts of the world for topographic maps that interest you.
First off, in Ecuador, we will go to the website of the Instituto Geografico Militar, in Quito. I have been buying physical, topographic maps from them for more than 20 years. I know most of the office employees on a first name basis. While their topographic maps are quite inexpensive, it is extremely inconvenient to go there to buy the physical maps these days.
I stopped going there about a year ago. I finally stopped waiting and paying. I now create and print my own customized, topographic maps on any scale and of any part of the country I choose. This is state-of-the-art, maximum convenience!
Here is how we do it...
Click on the 2nd tab which is named, “Visualizador de Mapas”. See the red arrow...
Take time to expand the window and play with the green tools found just above the upper left corner of the map. Learn to use the “selector square” (4th tool from the left) and the “map mover hand” (3rd tool from the left).
Now, zoom into a detailed area of your choice. It normally takes about a minute or so for all of the map layers to plot. The topographic contour line layer is the last one to plot. The contour lines only show up on the "zoomed in" views. When you are really zoomed in close, you can see amazing details such as individual houses and even foot trails! Wow!
Here is a topo map of Cuenca with the contour lines plotted:
You should play around with all of the tools. They are quite versatile. You should also explore the entire web site as this is an amazing resource with a ton of information available. Use a web page translation tool such as Google Translation if you don’t understand enough of the Spanish.
OK, now let’s move to an example of topographic maps of the Mother Lode country in Northern California. Let’s see if we can focus in on the small city of Downieville, which is located along the North Fork of the Yuba River. I have dredged for gold about 3 miles above Downieville, back in the 1980s. The results were amazingly rich.
To get started, let’s do a search for “usgs topographic quadrangle maps by county - state of California”.
Click on USGS Topographic Maps of California – UCSB Library.
This is what you should see:
Now, under the heading of “Graphical Indexes”, click on the “USGS Map Locator” link.
Here, you will see a Google map of the United States that looks like this:
In the search box above the map, type in “Downieville California”.
Search it. You should then see this:
Click once on the red marker. A list of free, downloadable, pdf, topographic maps will appear such as you see here:
I chose the first topographic map made in 2012. I added it to the cart (+ symbol at right) and then downloaded it. Here is the bottom right corner section of the topographic map pdf that I downloaded:
Just think... you can choose any location in the United States this way and download the corresponding topographic maps you want. There are many thousands from which to choose. I sure hope you have a good supply of ink for your printer!
If your exploration takes you to other parts of the world, be sure to search carefully in a variety of ways in order to locate the maps you desire.
The next Adventure Map module will deal with finding Historical Maps. After publishing that module, I will then create a Private Page about Adventure Research for you.
How to Find Gold & Minerals Anywhere in the World
For this method, you need to have Google Earth installed on your computer. The free edition will work just fine. If you prefer, you can download data to an Excel sheet instead. Google Earth is more visually pleasing for me.
Now, you need to do an internet search for: Mineral Resource Data System. It looks like this:
Click on Mineral Resources Data System and you will be taken to a page that looks like this:
Now, you can decide if you want to search in the U.S.A. or if you would like to search in some other country in the world. Today, I did a search in the state of Michigan where I grew up. In Michigan, I discovered the locations of copper, silver, gold and many other minerals I never even knew existed there!
Gold prospecting and adventure can be waiting for you right around the corner, no matter where you live in the world.
For this page, I have decided to demonstrate how to find gold in Ecuador. But you can go search anywhere you like on your own.
Here is your next step for Ecuador... Click on "Search by site name, location, or commodity". This link is found as the second item down under the Download section (see the image above). When you click on this link, you will see this: (see the image below)
You only need to choose Ecuador as the country (in this case) and leave all of the other boxes alone. Now, click on Search. When you do this, you will see the following result:
Now all you have to do is choose your desired format. In this case, we will choose Google Earth. Once this is chosen, click on Get Data.
For Google Earth, we will be working with a .klm file. It is only 674 kb of data to download 591 records as seen below.
Click on the first line link (blue) that is the download data file named mrds in .kml format.
Now you will see this:
Choose to open with Google Earth and then click on OK.
This is what you will see next. Google Earth will open up automatically with all of these X's plotted. Check out the key (legend) in the bottom left of the screen. You can now click on each individual X to see what has been discovered there.
When you click on any "X", you will see a mini report like this. Be sure to click on the Record Number to open up a more in-depth report in your browser window.
This gold and silver discovery is only a 10-minute drive from where I live. I went there and found gold in my pan! Nobody appears to even know about it. It is just sitting there waiting for someone to come along and investigate it further. I bet you can find something similar right near where you live or work.
I can't wait to hear about your results. Please tell us about what you discover in our Adventure Forum below!
Do you have a question, answer or comment to share?
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Hi Stan, I really enjoy this new information today. I bought several of your books years ago. I always satisfied with your service. I really enjoyed …
Thank You, Stan!
AWESOME Mapping Tools and help! Thanks a $$ Million for this GREAT Tutorial!
Veteran Gold Prospector and Treasure Hunter
I enjoy your site and reading of your adventures. I am enjoying the maps too. Looking forward to the historical sites. I live in Cut and Shoot, north of …
Great Adventure Research Tools
Stan, Thank you for all the tips. This information is such a valuable tool when it comes finding places online to prospect. I'm looking forward to your …
Topographic Map Locator
I would recommend Lr2000 Geo-communicator for topographic maps from anywhere in the world. And I believe they are using Eagle Eye for their sat photos …
Got Any Map Information for Thailand in English?
I struggle to find maps in English that are of any value for Thailand. Got any ideas? Stan's response: In my experience, countries only publish …
Thanks, that is easy!
Thank you for the easy instructions, that is a neat tool!
X Marks the Spot
Stan, Thanks for the excellent info on the USGA maps. My guides here in Honduras are surprised at how much I know about an area when they take us to it. …