From the Gear Junkie, I downloaded a swell map of Zion.
Beginning in the 1940s, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Mapping Program was tasked with the immense cartographical feat of surveying the entire country to create a series of more than 50,000 topographical maps. Widely available and mostly accurate, the 1:24,000-scale government maps canvas the total of the contiguous United States.
Not occurring to many people — including me! — these maps exist within the public domain and are thus free for use and distribution. Taxpayers funded the decades-long project, and now you, dear taxpayer, are allowed the keys to download thousands of maps from a U.S. Geological Survey web site.
To be sure, printed maps from the USGS still come with a fee. But a download of the agency’s cartographical creations, which open in Adobe Acrobat as PDF files, is as simple and free as a few mouse clicks.
You can print the high-resolution map files from a home inkjet. Or, save the file and email a map to a copy shop for large-format print-outs.
To start the process, go to http://store.usgs.gov and find the text “Map Locator” on the top upper part of the left-hand column. Click it to be whisked to a Google Maps interface of the United States.