Gila Wilderness (Land Navigation)

Land Navigation: Map Colors

The American Backpacker

Topographical maps are a wealth of information.  Understanding the colors on a topo map allows you to get a better vision of what type of terrain you will encounter. Below are some of the basic colors you will find on a Topo map.

Basic Topo Map Colors

  • BLACK: Man-made areas (eg. buildings, small roads).
  • RED: Built up areas like cities.
  • BROWN: Terrain reliefs and contour lines.
  • GREEN: Vegetation, (Trees, Forests, etc.).
  • BLUE: Water, (Lakes, Streams, Creeks, etc.)
  • OTHER COLORS: They are explained in the legend.

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