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BrianZ's Golf Course Design Resource

USGS Seamless Data Distribution System

The USGS has a site called the Seamless Data Distribution System. This site makes it easy to download USGS data.

  1. Go to the USGS Seamless Site and choose either US or International data. From here the site takes a few moments to launch.
  2. A map with a set of buttons to the left opens. You can use the map to zoom in to your location but it is slow. Instead it is easier to just enter the coordinates. Under Downloads on the left side, click on Define Area by Coordinates.
    Define Area by Coordinates
  3. A new window opens up. Click on Switch to Decimal Degrees.
  4. Enter the coordinates you wrote down from Google Earth for the west, north, south, and east sides. Include the negative signs that appear in the coordinates. See the Location Coordinates Section if you do not know the coordinates.
  5. Click on Add Area and click OK. The area for your plot is now set.

Next choose what you want to download.

  1. Click Modify Data Request.
  2. Put a check next to each item you want to download. Set the formats to GeoTIFF, Zip, and HTML for any items you select.

Below, some of the useful choices are listed.

National Elevation Dataset (NED)

These are the USGS DEMs. All resolutions are listed but not necessarily available for your area. Use the highest resolution available for your area. Most areas do not have a 1/9 Arc Second (1 meter) resolution DEM. You can select more then one here if you want. For more about resolutions see the DEM Overview.

National Elevation Dataset

24k DRG (Digital Raster Graphics)

This is a topographic map. It contains location markings for buildings, trees, swamp areas, etc. and is useful to verify elevation data. 24k is the highest resolution version.

24k DRG

DOQQ 1.0m (Digital Orthoimagery Quarter Quadrangles)

This is a black and white (or in some cases infrared color) satellite image taken in the 90's.

DOQQ 1.0m


This is a high resolution color image. For the most part this image is only available in urban areas.


When you are finished, click Save Changes & Return to Summery.

The download screen appears with the items you checked. If an item doesn't show up then it is unavailable in your area. You can click Modify Data Request to go back to the list and make changes.

To download each item, click on the download button next to it. A new window opens. It may take awhile for it to process your request. When it is finished it prompts you to save. Repeat this process for the other items you want to download.

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