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Backcountry

Download 3D Maps of Your Favorite Backcountry Zones with Gaia GPS

Scope out new terrain, plan perfect routes, or dream the day away discovering all the world’s natural wonders in 3D.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

Get Unrestricted Access to Gaia GPS and download premium maps with unlimited layering with your Outside+ membership.

Global 3D maps are now live on the web! Scope out new terrain, plan perfect routes, or dream the day away discovering all the world’s natural wonders in 3D mode on any map in Gaia GPS. Topo maps, satellite imagery, weather, and activity-specific maps can all be viewed in 3D mode at Gaiagps.com/map/.

3D maps allow you to visualize every mile of your route in a realistic way. Just click the 3D button on the map, and watch the canyons plunge and the mountains pop into 3D objects that beg you to explore. Whether you’re backpacking, overlanding, or backcountry skiing, 3D maps will revolutionize the way you research and plan your next adventure.

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Research the Terrain, Create Routes, and View Your Tracks on 3D Maps

All of Gaia GPS’s signature navigation and route planning tools can be used in 3D mode. Scour high-resolution satellite 3D maps to discover new backcountry skiing routes. Explore the best maps for overlanding in 3D mode. Check out your next hiking destination in 3D on Gaia Topo. No matter which map you select, the 3D vantage point gives you a new perspective of the landscape, giving away all its little secrets like slope steepness, impassable cliffs, and low-angle terrain.

Create a route in 3D mode so you can see every swell and dip of the land that you’ll encounter on your journey. Drop waypoints in places you’ll need to remember: trail junctions, water sources, planned campsites, and bail-out points.

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Pull up your recorded tracks and relive your adventures on Gaia GPS’s high-resolution 3D satellite map. See all the hills you climbed and how much ground you covered on your track, and show your friends at home all the beautiful scenery you passed through.

You can always import GPX, KLM, and other files and data to your Gaia GPS account. And now you can view these files in 3D mode on the web to get a realistic view of the landscape.

How to Use 3D Map Controls to See all Sides of the Mountain

Toggle on 3D Maps

On Gaiagps.com, pull up any map in the Gaia GPS catalog. Turn on 3D mode by tapping the “3D” button on the lower right-hand corner of the screen. In 3D mode, use the vertical toggle switch to adjust the pitch of the map. Adjusting the pitch allows you to view the map straight down from a bird’s eye view or sprawled out before you as if you are standing on a mountain top.

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Use Your Mouse and Keyboard to View Different Aspects on the 3D Map

Rotate the map so you can see all aspects of the terrain in 3D mode by holding down “control” on your keyboard and left-clicking and dragging the mouse. Another way you can orient the map is by holding down the “shift“ key and using your arrow keys to view different aspects of the map. The 3D map will adjust the bearing accordingly. Also, use the mouse controls to zoom in on the map and pan out for a larger view of the area.

Press the 2D button to return to two-dimensional maps.

Try This: Use 3D Maps to Help Learn How to Read Topo Maps

3D maps make it so easy to read the landscape, but they can’t be downloaded for offline use and shouldn’t be a replacement for knowing how to read topographical maps. However, 3D maps provide a great tool for practicing to read contour lines.

Challenge yourself by first looking at Gaia Topo in 2D mode. Pick out a feature on the map, like a mountain or canyon. See how many landscape features you can point out on the topo map. Look for ridges, gullies, couloirs, saddles, and peaks. Drop waypoints on the features you identified. Now switch the map to view in 3D satellite imagery. Check your work. Did the features check out? Were the slopes the pitch you predicted after studying the contour lines on the map?

Going back and forth between 2D maps and 3D maps is a great way to practice reading contour lines on a topo map.

3D Maps are Available to Everyone

View a limited number of 3D maps for free by creating an account at Gaiagps.com. View the entire Gaia GPS map catalog, that’s hundreds of maps, in 3D mode with a Premium Membership. With a premium membership, you can layer multiple maps on top of each other on the screen, and view them all at once in 3D mode with just a single click of the 3D button.

3D is only available on the website. 3D maps cannot be downloaded for offline use.

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