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The best way to find a topographic map for your area of interest is to come in to the Map Collection.
If you are not able to come in to the collection but know the names of the sheets you need, search the catalog. If those sheets are available, you may be able to borrow them through Interlibrary Loan.
If you are not able to come in to the collection and do not know the names of the sheets you need, a few series have online versions of index maps -- see Frequently Used Resources below.
Some topos are not in the catalog, particularly historic topos for other states. Please ask Map Collection staff for assistance if you cannot find what you are looking for.
Our list of Topographic Map Sets will direct you to one or several series that cover your country of interest.
Topographic maps (informally known as "topos") render the three-dimensional ups and downs of the terrain on a two-dimensional surface, through the use of contour lines to portray the shape and elevation of the land. Topographic maps usually portray both natural features (such as mountains, valleys, plains, lakes, rivers, and vegetation) and manmade features (such as roads, boundaries, transmission lines, and major buildings). (Adapted from the USGS Topographic Mapping page, "What is a topographic map?")
Topographic maps form a large part of the Map Collection, because they generally offer the most detailed and accurate mapping available for most nations and regions of the world.
The Map Collection's goal is to cover the whole world at 1:200,000 or 1:250,000. Within the United States, coverage is available at scales of:
The Map Collection has the most recent topos available for the United States, and keeps all superceded (older) topos of Washington State as well. Superseded Washington State topos, including historic 15 and 30 minute topos, are filed with the historic maps. We do have some older topos of other states as well, which are also filed with the historic maps.