Along with the travel guidebook, printed atlases may soon be eclipsed in popularity by online mapping services.

Many sites like Mapquest have been around for awhile and Google Earth has helped many people procrastinate away an entire afternoon. But more and more sites are launching to respond to travelers’ interest in receiving updated and accurate maps that can be downloaded, printed, and stuffed into a rucksack.

Among these newer sites is National Geographic’s online national outdoor recreation database, TOPO! Explorer. TOPO! Explorer has a searchable dynamic archive of U.S maps that are updated and reviewed by government agencies, publishers, and the site’s own community of users.

As a TOPO! user, you can upload video, photos, and other multimedia data that serve as useful information for other outdoor enthusiasts…and which can’t fit in the pages of a book. If you want to download maps, prices start at $1.00 per page.

Community Connections: Matador members love maps! Geotraveler makes web-based maps for a living; Hal Amen recently wrote a great blog about his obsession with maps; Jacob Bielanski wrote a useful article about How to Find Your Way When You’re Lost; and Lisa Lubin recently wrote an article about how to avoid getting lost in cities.

Photo: Green Map System (creative commons)