How to tell where snowmobiles aren't

Nathaniel's Avatar


06 Aug, 2018 06:01 PM

First: Thanks for this incredible resource--beautifully designed, immensely powerful, available to the public...just amazing. Thanks.

What I'd like to do is figure out where snowmobiles are allowed, or not. Basically, national parks, and federal wilderness areas. I've used your very nice land management overlay, which identifies the former, but not the latter.

I wonder if there would be some easy way to do that. The mapping info seems to be available from, at

  1. 1 Posted by Keith D. on 07 Aug, 2018 09:14 PM

    Keith D.'s Avatar

    One option would be to import Google Earth "KMZ" files representing the Wilderness areas. Here's a source:

    Download the relevant ones, then in Caltopo go to the Import menu to load them into your map as polygons. Quick and dirty but gets the job done, and you can customize how it looks.

    Matt or someone else might chime in with a better answer, but this is how I do it.

  2. Support Staff 2 Posted by matt on 08 Aug, 2018 02:44 AM

    matt's Avatar

    The OSM dataset does have a number of wilderness areas marked and those show up in the MapBuilder layer. The dataset may be more comprehensive, but it's a fair amount of extra work to take out-of-band info like that and patch it in every time I pull an OSM update.

    Depending on where you live, the question of where snowmobiles are allowed is probably more complex than just national parks and wilderness areas, and subject to change from year to year. To get an accurate answer you really need to search for the USFS OSV (over-snow vehicle) use map for the area you're interested in.

  3. 3 Posted by Nathaniel on 09 Aug, 2018 08:21 PM

    Nathaniel's Avatar

    You guys are great! Good info, thanks. The MapBuilder layer has a lot of good stuff, and I'll explore it more, but it appears to mostly not have the wilderness area boundaries in the areas I'm looking. The data seems to be exactly what I want, and the source for kmz files is a great tip. I completely sympathize if it is extra work to try to get that into the Caltopo options. It does seem a little funky, or maybe just big, and more than my limited computer capacity can handle. I've crashed Caltopo a few times importing those files. But used judiciously, those files are the perfect answer to my question--just a couple of clicks and I can match up the boundaries with my existing waypoints, trail maps and so on in Caltopo. I'll check out the OSV maps sometime, too, for further info.

  4. 4 Posted by Keith D. on 09 Aug, 2018 08:57 PM

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    One thing you could try with the KMZs is to split them apart using Google Earth so each individual KMZ files have fewer areas. That should help get them imported into Caltopo. Then, once in Caltopo, resample them to have fewer points - no need to have that much detail.

  5. 5 Posted by nate.berkopec on 20 Aug, 2018 09:49 PM

    nate.berkopec's Avatar

    Sort of a related pile-on, but Gaia provides a layer for the USFS motor vehicle use maps. It's extremely useful. File that one down as entry #1001 on the "layers people want" list :D

  6. 6 Posted by Nathaniel S on 20 Aug, 2018 10:46 PM

    Nathaniel S's Avatar

    Interesting, thanks. And I'll figure out how to split up and resample KMZs, if that should become necessary--tip is appreciated.
    Nat Siddall
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    5009 South Lake Dr
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        On Monday, August 20, 2018, 5:49:29 PM EDT, nate.berkopec <[email blocked]> wrote:


  7. 7 Posted by Keith D. on 23 Aug, 2018 07:47 PM

    Keith D.'s Avatar

    BTW – Gaia exposes some of their layers as "map tiles", meaning they can be displayed in Caltopo using the “Add Custom Source” feature.

    You would need to find the proper URL Template, which I won't share as I'm not sure if it would violate the terms of service...but it would look something like this (I found it using the "developer mode" in my web browser):{z}/{x}/{y}

    (presumably this only works if you have a paid Gaia membership as I do)

  8. kobe.pole closed this discussion on 28 Nov, 2018 06:08 PM.

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