Topographic Maps

Topographic Maps Web Quest

Suggested Grade Level:  7th - 12th 

Created by:

Matthew Borgogno / Edited by Greg Sheppard

Fullerton Joint Unified School District, La Habra H.S.



Topographic maps are maps that show locations and elevations of natural and cultural features of a given area.
Standard colors and symbols have been designated for use on these maps by the United States Geological Survey.
Topographic maps are generally oriented to show north at the top. Scales and contour intervals vary on topographic maps
depending on the series of the map and the relief (the variation in elevation) of the topography.
Using the Internet students can create topographic maps for any area in the United States.  Students need to input the latitude and longitude or the zip code to create a map of their choice.


Learn the standard symbol signs and colors used on a topographic map. Become familiar with directions, scales,
elevation readings, and ways of locating various features on topographic maps.


Internet ready computer and web browser

 Mission, Viejo, California

      33.6ºN, -117.6711ºW

Task: 1

1) Pick any city in the United States and generate a map using the Topozone website.
  The TopoZone is the Web's center for topographic map users and outdoor recreation
  enthusiasts. Check it out!

  Another Excellent Map Making Website Arc Data Online -Excellent Resource
  Allows you to browse a world of geographic data to create live maps of specific areas of interest. Maps can include a
  variety of information, such as Topographic Maps  floodplains, earthquake zones, and  demographics. A great source of
  graphic representations of detailed data.

2) Answer the following questions:
These resources may help you answer the questions.
    Topographic Map Symbols
    Topographic Mapping


Sample Map Questions:  -Questions will vary depending on the maps that are generated.

   1. What is the fractional scale of the map?
  2. What is the scale of the map in inches to miles?
  3. What is the contour interval of the map?
  4. What county is this map located in?
  5. What do the following colors represent on any topographic map?

     1. Black
    2. Green
    3. Red
    4. Blue
    5. Brown
    6. Purple

Task: 2

Follow the link below

Exploring Maps (grades 7-12)  USGS

There are Many valuable resources and activities at this site.  Pick the ones that are appropriate to your teaching needs.

Metric Conversion Calculator (not available)

Excellent  Resources:

Color Landform Atlas of the United States

Geosystems Map Projections
Geography Net Links from
Java Script Calculators / Converters
News Bank - Reference Maps
Xerox PARC Map Viewer

Click on the picture! 

A few Internet Resources:

Email: (Matthew Borgogno)

Created August 12, 1998
Last Revised March 5, 2000