Friday, October 1, 2010

USGS Map Waypoints: Colorado

Well, what was started over 5 months ago is finally done: the Colorado USGS Features file.   I had a request from a reader to do the same thing for Colorado that I did for Utah, Nevada, Montana and elsewhere and did start it but just too many things got in the way.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Colorado USGS Features (2.6 mb)]

All that's over now and it's finally completed… all 64 counties of 'em! It does go a bit faster now that I'm used to the grind; but, it's still a fair amount of tedium which is why it probably gets relegated to the back burner so easily.

It has turned out that these USGS Features files are quite a bit more useful than I had anticipated which is why I've had so many requests for them. You may have noticed that Google Earth has changed perceptibly over the past couple of so-called "updates."

Google must have altered the settings for zoom visibility because now things like roads, county names and other labels don't even appear until you get so close that they are almost worthless for getting your bearings. And there is no way to manually alter the settings, believe me I've tried.

When you download one of these USGS Feature Files and then turn on the county that you are interested in, the placemarks appear and are permanent no matter what zoom level you navigate to. That makes them a life-saver when you are trying to get your bearings on a map you are looking at.

As have been all the previous files of this series, they are quite large. Google Earth sort of… well… chokes and sputters when you get more than a few hundred or so on the screen at the same time – and these have thousands.

I've found that if you first load your trail map and navigate to the area you want to see placemarks for, you can then move around a bit until you can find Google Earth's label for the county. Then you can load this USGS Feature File and click the box next to only the county you want. Just the features that you want to see will appear and you won't notice Google Earth struggling so much.

Murphy's 50 Laws of Combat Operations: (selected)
#2 A sucking chest wound is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
#7 The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
#14 Never share a foxhole with someone braver than you.
#15 Teamwork is essential -- it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
#23 When in doubt -- empty your magazine.”
Another side benefit of using these files is that you can make a "take-along" file of waypoints that you can download into your GPS unit. The easiest way to do it is to first zoom to the area where the waypoints you want are located.

First, right-click on "temporary places" in the Google Earth side-bar. Then left-click first on "add" then on "folder" to get a pop-up box where you can type in the name of the new folder you want.

Once that is done, just begin right-clicking on the placemarks that you want to copy and select "copy." Then right-click on your new folder to highlight it and select "paste." The placemark will be put in your folder where you can collect it with others until you are ready to export it.

Once you are ready, Right-click on your new folder and select "save place as" and output it as a .kml file (not the .kmz type). Once you have it in the .kml format you can then utilize either "easyGPS" or "gpsVisualizer" to convert it into the type of file format that can be imported into your unit. We've talked about that before.

Those of you who are gaining facility with making your own Google Earth maps of rides which you've taken are probably already seeing the possibility of "embellishing" your own maps with these waypoints.

It works. I use it all the time by basically doing the same cut and paste that I've just described above only putting them into your own map folder.

Look at them, try them out and consider leaving a comment on the blog about how you've used them and how it worked out!

Learn A Little More

Here is an important reminder about Utah's laws concerning out-of-state ATVs.

Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada do not offer reciprocity in registering OHV's to other states. Therefore, owners of OHV's residing in those states who ride in Utah must obtain a Non-Resident Permit for their machine.

Non-Resident Permits cost $30 and are good for one year from the month of purchase. Click here to obtain a Non-Resident Permit application.


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