NatGeo Maps, formerly known as TOPO Explorer and sometimes still referenced as such on the website, is a subsidiary of the National Geographic Society. It is the product of National Geographic’s acquisition of a company called Trails Unlimited, which provided hiking trail resources for explorers across the U.S. NatGeo Maps is both an online map website and a desktop application with topographical maps and exploration features to help you plan your next outdoor adventure. It specializes in online maps of hiking and bike trails throughout the U.S. as well as artistic topographical map prints.
The NatGeo Maps website uses National Geographic’s familiar color scheme and branding, and it has a simple design with a single-field search bar. To use the site, you simply click on a spot on the map to begin zooming toward your area of interest, or you can type a city or state into the search bar.
To access many of NatGeo Maps’ features, you must sign in. The membership is free, and anyone interested in hiking, backpacking or bicycling, will want to visit the site again and again.
This map site has topographical and satellite maps of the entire U.S. you can explore in many ways. You can simply double click any point to zoom in or drag the map from side to side to find the area you want to explore. Once you’ve picked a location, the site offers information about nearby land formations and nature reserves, such as rivers, mountains and parks; trips in the area, including hikes, camping spots and sightseeing tours; photos; and videos. The content comes from a combination of sources, including National Geographic and Trails Unlimited.
The site lists different kinds of trails and trips. If you’re interested in caving, camping, bicycling or hiking, NatGeo Maps has a wealth of resources. Because this site focuses on topographical maps, it doesn’t provide driving directions. The satellite view is helpful when you need an overall picture of a location, but it does not zoom in very far. The online maps on this site are designed for outdoor use, away from cities, so they do not contain information about area businesses.
You can choose to use the online version of NatGeo Maps, or you can download the desktop version, which has more functions and features. When you use the desktop version, you also have the option to purchase additional maps for your collection in both electronic and paper formats. The desktop version of the application also allows you to print maps.
The NatGeo Maps website has lots of resources for help and support, including FAQs, manuals and tips, and user forums. The desktop version has its own help section with all the information you need to use the software’s features as well as the website. The user forums are particularly helpful because they have clear and straightforward answers to questions.
NatGeo Maps is the leading site for outdoor adventure online maps. It is equipped with a detailed map of the entire U.S. that shows trails, photographs and videos provided by National Geographic and Trails Unlimited. The trip index is organized, so it’s easy to find information for the exact type of trip you’re planning, preview the area using a topographical map, and then save or print your directions.