In The Desert
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Map System Reviews
Sample Maps, Satellite Images
Both of the next two images are from the USGS Topographic maps, the second one is available by clicking on Images in the PDF file. This is really nice map for use in the desert, being able to switch back an forth between map options.
The next image is a capture of Google Earth to show the differences. With Google
Since all these mapping systems are free, why not have most of them, as each one has it's good points and specific uses.
All the satellite images are not created equal. The Wikimapia map below has one
Satellite image overlays on topography maps are highly recommended. you should download some of the USGS topo maps so you will have the best of both worlds.
We've tried to give you a good comparison here of the different satellite images (maps) that are available. The map samples shown below are in most cases zoomed in as close as they would go. The USGS is an exception (it did no good to zoom any closer). As you'll see here the best overall fine detail is arrived at by using the National Geographic Map system. We tried zooming in to get as much detail as possible, and as you'll see fine detail is not always available on these different mapping systems. Actually I don't know why some of them zoom in so far. The Yahoo map is a perfect example.
USGS, Google, Wikimapia, Bing, Nat Geo, Yahoo
However: we've heard that the Delorme Mapping System that you buy for around $100 also has great detail. At the present time we have no way of evaluating their software.
Below you can see what the same location looks like when zoomed in on each map.
Surprisingly: National Geographic and Bing seem to be the leaders in detail retention. Some of these maps allowed for more zoom (lower elevation) than others did. As you can see more zoom is not always an advantage. National Geographic may not have dropped you down to the lowest elevation but it sure does give you the sharpest detail. Of course as explained above there are other reasons to like each of the different mapping systems. Google Earth has a better 3D view and a lot of other options, Wikimapia allows for locations to be installed on the maps and USGS allows a great terrain map to be alternated with the satellite map. The choice is yours.
What do we use? Mostly Wikimapia (nice for finding places), then to see what the terrain is like we use Google Earth in 3D and finally, to get the most detail, National Geographic.