In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2011 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Garmin Topo Maps
GPS File Depot
If you're using a topo on your computer from Garmin, such as MapSource or BaseCamp that covers all of the USA then you'd probably like a little more detail in topography of the map. It's just not as good as the USGS topo maps on paper that we're used to seeing. Here's another alternative, and a good one. GPS File Depot's Web Site has a lot of nice topo maps, and most of them are free to download.
GPS File Depot is the ultimate source of custom maps, articles and tutorials with 491 maps, most of which are free. But before you download a map here you need to know which software you have -- Garmin's MapSource or BaseCamp? Don't have either one, no problem, you can download MapSource or Base Camp, just see the links on their Home Page to Garmin's site. You'll also find instructions for opening maps in BaseCamp and in MapSource.
We decided to try one of the maps to see what the level of detail in the topography was like. On GPS File Depot's site they had a screen capture that showed a preview of the one we were interested in. These topo examples show a lot of detail plus land ownership, BLM, etc. Nice features!
Before we give you the link to the download page for these maps we'll show you the differences between three of these maps. And how to best use this map on your computer or GPS. We downloaded the map, which took a while to do on a cable Internet connection. It was simple once the download was complete, it had it's own installer and it installed the map in our 2008 MapSource software. Here's what the differences will look like on your computer.
Typical topo view from Garmin's MapSource software
Typical topo view from the Desert Southwest map
The MapSource map shows more locations (circled in red), whereas the Desert Southwest map below lacks these references, the square black dots show water features when clicked on. The topography detail is better and is also more accurate.
The nice thing about this map is the greater detail and also it's accuracy. We just came back from this area in Stateline Utah so we're familiar with the topography of that area. You can easily switch between the two map systems so you'll still have the map features and then be able to see the accurate topography with the added detail shown here. You might want to consider loading one of these maps into your GPS to see what off-road conditions might be like.
Here's a screen capture showing the Utah topo map. Now this map has more features and jeep trails shown than either of the above maps. The area shown here is the same as the above maps.
Download Page for the Desert Southwest map
The Desert Southwest map DOES NOT cover Southern Arizona or Southern California or Northern Utah or Northern Nevada. See below for more map links....
Download Page for the Arizona map. This map covers the entire state of Arizona.
Download Page for the California map. This map covers the entire state of California.
Warning -- The download times can be long as some of these maps are over 200 MB. A fast Internet connection is helpful.
GPS Units Our review of two different Garmin GPS units. Our favorite is available at the Amazon Store. Our personal choice is the E-trex Vista HCx, see our review here.....
Download Page for the New Mexico map. Map covers the entire state of New Mexico.
These are great topography mapping systems and the downloads are free at
GPS File Depot
PAGE 1 Desert Southwest Map, Your here.
PAGE 2 Arizona Map Review
Download Page for the Nevada map. Map covers the entire state of Nevada.
The people at the GPS File Depot are very helpful, so don't overlook their forum (registration is free). If you had to buy these maps they could be very expensive, so don't hesitate to DONATE to their site! They have many links on the site for installing and using these maps, and even building them if you choose to do so.
PAGE 3 Other states reviewed here
Download Page for the Utah map. This map covers the entire state of Utah.
These maps are all a little different, but the one thing they all have in common is a more detailed topopgraphy. We really liked the Desert Southwest map because you can travel from Southern Utah over into Nevada using this map and south into the Arizona Strip. On the other hand the Utah map has more jeep roads shown on it. Some have government and private lands shown. Our advice - download them all in the areas you're interested in. See which ones you want to use in your GPS after looking at them on your computer.