The Ultimate Reading a Topographic Map Quiz
by Staff
Topographic maps show the landscape in detail. They show the land's contours, elevations, mountains, valleys, bodies of water, vegetation and more. Knowing how to use a topographic map can make cross-country hiking navigation a cinch. Take this quiz to learn more about topographic maps.

What's the difference between a topographic map and a regular map?

  • Topographic maps show a three-dimensional landscape, regular maps don't.
  • Topographic maps are heavy, regular maps are light.
  • Topographic maps are expensive, regular maps are cheap.

When was the first topographic map made in the United States?

  • 1779
  • 1879
  • 1979

What technology made it easier to make topographic maps since the 1940s?

  • bicycles
  • cars
  • airplanes

Which of these landscape details is not shown by topographic maps?

  • depth of the water table
  • types of manmade structures
  • types of vegetation

In which of these fields are topographic maps not used?

  • urban planning
  • athletics
  • environmental management

What do green symbols denote on a topographic map?

  • rivers
  • buildings
  • vegetation

What do blue symbols denote on a topographic map?

  • water
  • garden
  • buildings

What do gray or red symbols denote on a topographic map?

  • pond
  • dense built-up areas
  • garden

How are houses shown on topographic maps?

  • small yellow triangles
  • big red circles
  • small black squares

What feature are found most commonly on a topographic map?

  • contour lines
  • small black squares
  • small text

Which landscape feature is shown by a contour map?

  • color
  • shape
  • distance

What are the even spaces between the various contour lines known as?

  • contour brightness
  • contour thickness
  • contour interval

What are the darker contour lines known as?

  • index contour
  • premier contour
  • bold contour

On a topographic map, how do you know you are looking at a steep slope?

  • Contours are all thicker.
  • Contours are close together.
  • Contours are all red.

On a topographic map, what contour feature does not denote a relatively flat terrain?

  • Contours have wide spaces between them.
  • Contours are absent.
  • Contours are thinner.

What is the first number of a scale on a topographic map?

  • 1
  • 0.5
  • 0.25

What scale is commonly used on U.S. topographic maps?

  • 1:12,000
  • 1:24,000
  • 1:48,000

How many topographic maps does it take to show all the 48 contiguous United States, Hawaii and territories?

  • around 14,000
  • around 28,000
  • around 57,000

What is the scale of topographic maps used by town planners and engineers?

  • scale of 1:600
  • scale of 1:1200
  • scale of 1:2400

Where is the north direction on a topographic map?

  • right edge of the map
  • top edge of the map
  • bottom edge of the map