How to Read a Topographic Map:
• Connect points of equal
• Each line represents a
change in elevation
• The amount of elevation between 2 contour
If the contour
interval on this
map is 10 feet,
what is the
The difference between the highest and lowest
point on the map.
What is the relief
on this map?
is 10 feet)
Darker, heavier lines – usually about every 5-
10 lines. These are often the only lines
Golden Rules of Reading
1. Contour lines NEVER cross
2. All points on one contour line
represent one elevation
3. Closely spaced contour lines mean
4. Contour lines that are far apart mean
gentle slop or flat land
5. Contour lines that cross a valley or
stream are v-shaped
a.The v points to higher elevation
b.The v points upstream
6. Contour lines form closed circles
around hills, mountains, and
7. Depressions are marked with short
straight lines inside the circle
You Try It…
Draw a topographic map for a “pretend
landscape” that has a relief of 200 ft, 2
hills, 1 depression, a river, a city, and
some wooded areas. Use a contour
interval of 20 ft.
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.