View Full Version : Which mapping software?

04-23-2007, 07:46 AM
Looking for mapping software for CO, NM, UT, and maybe AZ- would like to be able to look up GPS coordinates, input the coordinates, and see on the map where the place is. Can they all do this? In any case, would like folks' recommendations for the best software for ghosttowning. Will probably use a fairly basic handheld GPS unit; ability to download maps to GPS unit nice but not critically important.


High Desert Drifter
04-23-2007, 08:27 PM
I use a Garmin GPS and I feel the Mapsource software best compliments it. very easy to use, transfer and save maps and waypoints. it also has a topo feature you can turn on or off and it has lots of mines and historic locations already built in for refference. I find that it works well in combination with the individual Delorme state gazateer map books.

04-25-2007, 03:43 AM
Thanks! I will probably go with an Etrex of some sort.

04-25-2007, 07:51 AM
I use a few different software programs, and find all tend to have the same USGS maps. Pretty much any program can do (or should be able to) the things you are asking. I'd look into the unit you want to use, and what software is compatible and go from there. I use a Magellan unit with their topo software loaded onto it. But I like the "feel" of the National Geographic program for laying out routes and loading them to the unit.

There are quite a few on line topo sites that also allow you to switch between topo maps and aerial pictures. Comes in handy when trying to determine what's left to see and if it's worth it. Or as I have found out, seeing if the roads are still there or flooded away.

04-27-2007, 03:55 AM
You may want to invest in something more than just a plain eTrex. There isn't much memory in them and they really don't have any mapping capabilities. An eTrex Legend might be better but I don't have any experience with that model.

I am consiering getting the new Delorme Earthmate PN-20. It has road and topo maps already loaded into it. Plus you can download satellite images to it (like Google Earth). They run about $350. I think I will wait for the second release although I haven't read about any big bugs with them.

04-27-2007, 05:55 AM
Thanks to everyone for their responses. Rattler, I have seen a writeup of that Delorme and it looks really great, though more than I had planned to spend. Anyway, let me ask everyone a bit of a newbie question: Are the file formats of the different companies' maps mutually compatible, so that one can buy, say, A garmin map and use it in a Magellan or Delorme GPS?

04-27-2007, 10:03 AM
From what I have heard about GPS specific software, no. I have never tried it myself, so I'm not sure. But I have loaded non Magellan maps to my Magellan unit from other mapping software. Some are buggy, some work fine. I have found the Magellan software to be the best though.

Some things to consider about GPS units. You want something that either has expandable memory or a lot of storage stock. Unless you plan on dumping routes every time, memory comes in handy especially if you return often to places. Also map storage uses memory. I have a 1 gig chip and have the entire state of Nevada, plus the edges of neighboring states saved to mine, and it barely used up a 1/3 of the chip. But I tend to save routes from past trips, and the more detailed ones eat up memory.

You also want as big a screen as you can get. That way you can scan through the magnification of maps easier, and see more things nearby without scrolling around.

Mine is color too, which I like. Makes figuring out if I'm near a creek or road or canyon easier. Everything is color coded.

External power (12 volt) is a major plus.

External antennas (if the unit can use them) help get a better pin point as they can draw from more satellites. Without the antenna, I can get 4-6 usually. With the antenna, I'm around 8-10. More satellites means a closer to actual mark.

Here's a site that has some really good info and decent prices. http://www.gpscity.com/

I myself got my unit off eBay. You can find new ones there for reasonable prices. I got mine used, but it was in mint shape with accessories. I paid well below the cost it would have been if I bought it and the extras at a store.

04-28-2007, 09:15 AM

Many thanks - excellent advice. I will try to stretch my budget to get something decent.

04-30-2007, 06:45 AM
GaryB, what size screen do you have on your gps?

05-09-2007, 09:06 AM
GaryB, what size screen do you have on your gps?

Mine is 1 5/8" wide by 2 1/2" tall. 2 3/4" diagonal. I have one of the last Megellan Meridian Color units before they revamped their line. It would be equivalent to the eXplorist 500 LE today. But I paid almost as much as a 600 goes for back then.

Car units are bigger screens, but I like mine as it's still small enough to pack around.

If you like to explore and find things off the beaten path, mobile units are the way to go. Plus you can swap between vehicles easier.