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How to Read a Topographic Map

| June 29, 2012

Reading a topographic map is a great skill and it’s one that can save your life, especially in Yosemite where there are plenty of steep hills and 3000 foot drops. Here’s a great from over at the Art of Manliness (if you’re a guy and you’re not following this blog you should be) that gives really good instruction on how to read a topographic map.

“The key thing to remember about contour lines is this: The closer the spacing, the more rapid the change in elevation. For a leisurely Sunday stroll, you might be looking to cross just a few contour lines, or perhaps follow a trail that shadows a few contour lines on the map. For rock climbing, look for a concentration of contour lines in a single area. If you’re looking for a true vertical cliff, look for a series of contour lines drawn so closely together that they appear to be a single line.” (Art of Manliness)

Definitely spend some time reading it and then reread it before your trip to Yosemite. It’s something you can do with your kids who will love being “the ones in charge with the map”.

You can read the rest of the article by visiting the Art of Manliness blog at artofmanliness.com.


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Category: Maps


About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

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